Chris Froome said he has “every right” to race the Tour de France that starts next week while his drug-test case from September remains unsettled.
“I can certainly see it from that point of view, people concerned about the image of the sport,” Froome said in a Sky Sports interview published Wednesday. “But from my point of view, I know I’ve done nothing wrong and that from the very beginning, that’s always been my starting point. So, it would be really hard for me to not race, knowing that I’ve done nothing wrong here. I’ve got every right to be racing, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
Froome would race in the July 7-29 Grand Tour, eyeing his fifth Tour de France win and fourth straight, under the cloud of a potential ban.
A urine sample he provided at the Vuelta a España in September, which he also won, showed a concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol that was twice the permitted level.
Froome maintains he has long struggled with asthma. Froome’s Team Sky said he had to take an increased dosage of salbutamol without exceeding the permissible dose after experiencing “acute asthma symptoms” during the final week of the Vuelta.
Salbutamol helps expand lung capacity and can be used as a performance-enhancing drug to increase endurance.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) hasn’t ruled on the case. Froome guaranteed that he would not be retroactively stripped of his result next month, nor would he be stripped of last month’s Giro d’Italia title.
“I’m fully expecting to be exonerated, to be fully cleared by the end of this process,,” Froome said.
Froome joined Belgian Eddy Merckx and Frenchman Bernard Hinault as the only men to hold all three Grand Tour titles at once.
Hinault called Froome “a cheat” last week and called for riders to boycott the Tour if Froome was on the start line for the three-week event, according to Agence France-Presse.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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