Richie Porte 'flabbergasted' by Chris Froome salbutamol situation

Responding to questions about Chris Froome's adverse analytical finding for salbutamol, Richie Porte admitted he was "flabbergasted" at the announcement in December.

Porte spent four years at Team Sky, helping Bradley Wiggins to Tour de France victory in 2012, then Froome to yellow jersey success in 2013 and 2015.

The Australian has since moved across to BMC and, while no longer teammates with Froome, he has maintained a friendship with the Briton. While the friendship was tested on the final stage of last year's Critérium du Dauphiné, Porte explained the two remain "good friends".

Froome returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for salbutamol in the final week of the 2017 Vuelta a España as he fought for overall victory. Twice the permitted 1000ng/ml level of the asthma drug was found in his urine and he could now lose his Vuelta title and face a ban from the sport.

To avoid punishment, Froome and his legal team must convince the anti-doping authorities that he did not exceed the permitted dosage and that his sample was skewed by other factors, such as dehydration.

Porte, speaking after claiming bronze in the Australian national time trial championships, admitted he was shocked when he heard the news. 

"There is not really much you can say at the moment. Whatever you say, you can't win. It is big shame. I heard the news and I was in massive shock," Porte said.

"Let's see what happens. Let it all run its course. I am flabbergasted as you guys are too. Let's see what happens."

Porte's commentary was in keeping with the tone of Tom Dumoulin when asked about Froome's situation on Thursday, neither weighing in with the same conviction of Greg LeMond, Jan Bakelants and Mathieu van der Poel this week.

"I do have respect," Porte said of Froome. "He is a good friend and we were teammates for a long time. It is only natural you are going to ask the questions but I'd probably rather not say too much."

Froome and Team Sky deny wrongdoing, with team manager Dave Brailsford suggesting that “there are complex medical and physiological issues which affect the metabolism and excretion of salbutamol". He added: "I have the utmost confidence that Chris followed the medical guidance in managing his asthma symptoms, staying within the permissible dose for salbutamol."

More on this story:

Dennis takes a zero tolerance approach

While Porte and Froome will be rivals at the Tour de France, should Froome avoid a sanction sanction, Rohan Dennis will be leading BMC at the Giro d'Italia in May - a race that Froome has set his sights on in a bid to complete a Grand Tour hat-trick following Tour and Vuelta wins in 2017.

Dennis won the Australian time trial title for a third year in a row on Friday, but rather than bat away the Froome questions and focus on his green and gold jersey, he reiterated his "zero tolerance" approach to doping.

"I have made it no secret of mine that I have zero tolerance for any sort of positive test," Dennis said emphatically.

"And that goes for myself. If I accidentally or purposely take something - I never would purposely take something - then you just have to own it and accept that you get a slap on the wrist and try to move on and not to make a mistake again."

Dennis stopped short of playing judge and jury on the matter, taking a similar line to Porte, but explained what his approach would be, should he ever find himself in a similar situation.

"I don't know the full details but really I just… for myself, if that was me, I would say, 'I screwed up, I shouldn't have done this', or what not. If that is the case," Dennis said.

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