Chris Froome has revealed that he missed an out-of-competition doping control earlier this year during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. The Sky rider said that the missed test took place while on a short break in Italy but did not divulge the precise date of the incident.
Subsequent to the conference call, Froome told The Sun newspaper that he had missed one other out-of-competition doping control during his career, five years previously. The admission follows the recent controversy surrounding British runner Mo Farah, who missed two doping controls in a year before the London 2012 Olympic Games.
"Yes, I have missed a drugs test," Froome said. "Earlier this year I had a couple of recovery days, and I took my wife down to quite an exclusive hotel down in Italy. The first morning we were down there, the authorities turned up at seven o'clock in the morning and the hotel staff actually didn't give them access to our room.
"They also refused to let them call up to the room. So when we came down for breakfast they basically just said to us 'Oh, the anti-doping guys were here to test you this morning, but it's our policy not to let anyone disturb our clients.'"
According to the WADA code, three missed doping controls or failures to provide accurate whereabouts information within a 12-month period (down from the old 18-month window) are punishable with a ban of between one and two years. Riders who have served bans after registering three strikes on the whereabouts system include Yoann Offredo, who missed the 2012 season when he was handed a one-year ban, Alex Rasmussen, who was given an 18-month suspension, and Gregory Baugé, who was stripped of his 2011 world sprint title.
Froome said that he had lodged an appeal to have the missed test stricken from his record, though his comments suggested that it had not proved successful.
"I did appeal it but at the end of the day, I do take responsibility for that case," Froome said. "I should have been more pro-active in letting the hotel know that there existed a possibility that I could be tested and I've certainly learned my lesson there. I've stayed in hotels all over the world and I've been tested all over the world without any issues at all, but unfortunately I just didn't see this one coming. It's opened my eyes and I'm definitely going to be more proactive in the future. It's always the athlete's responsibility to be sure he or she is available.”
Asked to clarify when the missed test had taken place, Froome said: "That was earlier on this year."
Earlier in the conference call, Froome had praised the increased out-of-competition testing he had faced during his long stint of altitude training at Mount Teide in the build-up to the Tour de France, saying that he and his Sky teammates had been tested "at least four times" while in Tenerife.
Ahead of last year's race, Froome had taken to Twitter to complain about the lack of testing at Mount Teide, and both Sky and Astana later confirmed to Cyclingnews that none of their riders had been tested during their time at altitude.
"You'd keep going out there year after year, and every year we'd come back from Tenerife and people would ask us, 'Were you tested up there?' and every year the answer would be 'No.' To me, something wasn't right, especially in those key preparation moments for the Tour de France when we'd be up in Tenerife and there was no testing," Froome said.
"Obviously I'd feel as if I have a responsibility in the position that I'm in, and I think I'm happy to be a spokesperson for the sport to show that you can not only ride clean, but you can win the biggest races clean, and I just wanted to point that out to the authorities that it seems to be a bit of an oversight that none of the teams are being tested during this period up on the volcano.
"But as far as I can see that has been rectified already. This year up on Tenerife, we were tested at least four times during the period when we were up there."
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.