Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has reiterated his call for a resolution to Chris Froome's salbutamol case, and said that it is "completely grotesque" that a verdict has not yet been reached.
Froome returned a positive test for salbutamol en route to victory at last year's Vuelta a España, but as salbutamol is listed a specified substance, the Team Sky rider remains free to race pending the resolution of the case. He began his season at the Ruta del Sol and is currently in Italy for Tirreno-Adriatico.
News of Froome's positive test broke in mid-December, and as the months pass by, it seems increasingly likely that the Briton might – like Alberto Contador in 2011 – ride both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France while waiting for a verdict on his case.
"What we want ardently, like all organisers, is for the UCI to provide a response," Prudhomme told RMC Sport. "I said since the month of December that we wanted a rapid response. Now, we can remove the word 'rapid'. We want a response. The organisers need a response."
Prudhomme demurred when asked if he would prefer Froome to stay away from the 2018 Tour, saying that it was the UCI's responsibility to issue a ruling on the case.
"That's not the question. What we want is a response. We need a response, not just for us at the Tour de France but for all the organisers, so that there isn't a rider they'll later say shouldn't have been at the start," Prudhomme said. "It's mad! It's completely grotesque! We need a response."
Prudhomme refused to be drawn on whether ASO would attempt to take measures to prevent Froome from participating in the Tour if a verdict is not reached in the case before July.
"From the moment there is a response [from the UCI], we'll see…," Prudhomme said. "We simply need a response. We aren't the international governing body."
In 2008, ASO opted not to invite the Astana squad of defending champion Alberto Contador due to misgivings about the team's ethical record, but the organiser had greater freedom to do so on that occasion given that the Tour was not part of the ProTour in 2008 due to a dispute with the UCI.
Three years later, with ASO's events back in the WorldTour, Contador took part in the 2011 Tour despite his positive test for clenbuterol 12 months previously. In 2012, the Court of Arbitration for Sport eventually ruled that Contador should receive a backdated two-year ban, and he was stripped of his 2010 Tour victory.
Prudhomme expressed his annoyance that the UCI did not make sufficient alterations to the regulations governing the processing of doping cases in the aftermath of the protracted Contador affair.
"Since 2010 – and that's eight years ago – nothing has been done to change the text [of the regulations – ed.] The text is incomprehensible for people," Prudhomme said. "An abnormal case, that doesn't mean anything. It has to be black or white, and the rest isn't important. We want a response."
MPCC asks UCI to change WorldTour rules
The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) met ahead of Paris-Nice and on Tuesday, the voluntary group issued a statement calling on the UCI to allow WorldTour organisers to exclude riders facing a possible doping sanction from their races. Team Sky are not part of the MPCC, but if Froome raced for a member team, he would not be permitted to race until his case was resolved.
"In order to maintain cycling's image and credibility, it is of great importance that when facing the situation of a positive or abnormal antidoping control result, the procedure remains the same whether the rider is part of a MPCC team or not," the MPCC statement read.
"Waiting for a change in the official rules, the board presently asks the UCI to change its World Tour rules: organizers should be able to exclude from their races a rider that would be facing a pending enquiry following a positive or abnormal control."