Chris Froome: I’ve got every right to race Tour de France

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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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World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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