ASO try to block Chris Froome from racing Tour de France

Tour de France organisers ASO have told Team Sky that Chris Froome will not be allowed to start in this year’s race, which starts on Saturday.

Under UCI regulations, Froome is allowed to continue racing pending a resolution of his salbutamol case. However, ASO sent Team Sky an email in which they make it clear that Froome is not welcome at the Tour.

"The Tour de France wants at all costs to avoid being in the same situation as the recent Giro d’Italia, where the final victory of Froome is now marked with an asterisk," report Le Monde.

The ASO has cited article 29.1 of its rules, which "expressly reserves the right to refuse participation in - or to exclude from - the event, a team or any of its members whose presence would be such as to damage the image or reputation of ASO or the event."

Team Sky has already appealed this decision to the National Olympic Committee of French Sport, and a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 3 with a decision set to made the following day. The case could then move towards CAS although a ruling might be unlikely before the Tour de France starts. 

Team Sky responded to calls from Cyclingnews stating their confidence in Froome: “We are confident that Chris [Froome] will be riding the Tour as we know he has done nothing wrong.”

Froome returned an AAF for salbutamol at the end of stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana in 2017. He went on to win the race before also claiming the Giro d’Italia in May thanks largely to an incredible 80km solo attack over the Finestre on stage 19. He is hoping to win a fifth Tour de France this July and last week was talking confidently of his chances of riding.

"From my point of view, I know I’ve done nothing wrong and from the very beginning, that’s always been my starting point," Froome told Sky Sports in a video interview. "So, it would be really hard for me to not race, knowing that I’ve done nothing wrong, that I’ve got every right to be racing, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Froome said.

However Christian Prudhomme could barely hide his frustration on Friday. Speaking on the show Village Médias on Europe 1, he said: "It's terrible that the sporting authorities have not managed to solve this problem before the start of the world's biggest race. I won't say anything more but of course, rules have to be modified.

"An abnormal control doesn't mean anything to a large public. It has to be black or white, positive or negative."

A precedent for this situation does exist. In 2009 ASO initially barred Tom Boonen from riding the Tour de France, citing that his positive test for cocaine was ‘incompatible with the image of the Tour de France’. Boonen was eventually cleared and raced the Tour.

Team Sky have yet to announce their initial Tour de France roster. The eight-man team, including Froome, was set to be released at the start of this coming week.

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