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Chris Froome's salbutamol case reportedly moves a step closer towards a verdict

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All smiles from Chris Froome after the Sky captain collected another red jersey

All smiles from Chris Froome after the Sky captain collected another red jersey
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Chris Froome (Sky).

Chris Froome (Sky).
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Sky's Chris Froome on the final stage of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana

Sky's Chris Froome on the final stage of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Bronze for Chris Froome (Great Britain)

Bronze for Chris Froome (Great Britain)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Alberto Contador and Chris Froome became rivals at the Tour and Vuelta. Alberto Contador got the better of Briton at the 2014 Vuelta

Alberto Contador and Chris Froome became rivals at the Tour and Vuelta. Alberto Contador got the better of Briton at the 2014 Vuelta
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

With Chris Froome, Team Sky and the UCI all preferring not to comment on the Briton's ongoing salbutamol case, the only information emerging is coming via the media, with race organisers and riders left to plea for a rapid outcome while highlighting the damage a drawn-out case involving a four-time Tour de France winner could have on the sport.

Froome returned an adverse analytical finding for salbutamol at last year's Vuelta a España. Some 2000ng/ml – twice the permitted level of the asthma drug – was found in Froome's urine after stage 18, though the 32-year-old denies exceeding the permitted inhaled dose.

At a procedural crossroads?

On Thursday La Gazzetta dello Sport suggested that Froome is ready to fight to defend his innocence and so will not strike a quick deal for a shortest possible ban.

A similar situation occurred with Alberto Contador's positive test at the 2010 Tour de France. The Spaniard was cleared by the Spanish Anti-Doping Tribunal, but eventually found guilty and banned by CAS. In the meantime, he won the 2011 Giro d'Italia but that success was cancelled, with Michele Scarponi eventually declared the winner.

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RCS Sport wants to protect the Giro d'Italia

Giro d'Italia director Mauro Vegni recently called on the UCI to 'sort out' the Froome case as quickly as possible to avoid another Contador case. On Thursday, he said he wants "a certificate from the UCI that allows the rider to be at the start of the next Giro d'Italia."

Froome confirmed he would target the 2018 Giro d’Italia at the route presentation on November 29, with reports that RCS Sport will pay him €1.4 million. Vegni and RCS Sport have said they were not aware of Froome’s salbutamol case when a deal was struck with Team Sky.

He suggested that the sword of Damocles is hanging over Froome's head and called on Lappartient to get heavily involved and quickly select the judge who will handle the UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal case.

The Giro d'Italia starts on May 4 in Israel, in three months time. Bergonzi called for urgency to find a solution to the case.

"There was and is the technical time necessary to reach a solution before the Classics and the Grand Tours," Bergonzi writes.