A frustrating week for cycling.

The announcement last week that Team Sky’s Chris Froome failed a drugs test during the 2017 Vuelta has sparked a pretty angry backlash: The German cycling powerhouse, Tony Martin, described it as, “a double standard being applied,” and that he’s “totally angry” about it too. Another person totally angry is Cath Wiggins, wife of 2012 TDF Champion Bradley Wiggins, who described the current Team Sky leader as a “slithering reptile”. She later apologised and said she, “certainly didn’t mean to fan any flames.” No, no of course not…

09-09-2017 Vuelta A Espana; Tappa 20 Corvera De Asturias - Alto De L'angliru; 2017, Team Sky; Froome, Christopher; Poels, Wouter; Alto De L'angliru;
09-09-2017 Vuelta A Espana; Tappa 20 Corvera De Asturias – Alto De L’angliru; 2017, Team Sky; Froome, Christopher; Poels, Wouter; Alto De L’angliru;

Froome failed the test due to having twice the legal limit of salbutamol (a drug used to treat asthma) in his system. Salbutamol is permitted in cycling as long as it remains within certain doses. It doesn’t require a TUE and it is also clear that there is a great deal of doubt over whether it provides any sporting advantage. The point being you don’t over use this stuff if you’re looking for an illegal advantage as it isn’t performance enhancing and also when Froome did his drugs tests he would have had to declare he was using salbutamol so if he was deliberately overusing would know that he is going to get caught. As such, Tony Martin seems to be getting his bib shorts in a twist over claims of “double standards” – Froome will have to answer for this and if he doesn’t do so successfully then he will be suspended.

The key question though is why the UCI and Team Sky waited this long to announce the failed test. Did they forget? Did they simply have a lot on? Why not announce it when they found out in September? By leaving it until now exposes them and Team Sky to all kinds of understandable criticism which is undeniably bad for cycling’s reputation. Froome is the Golden Boy of world cycling, the Skywalker to the Armstrong Sith Lord of the 2000s. His speech after the 2013 TDF that “this is yellow jersey that will stand the test of time,” was a message the cycling world needed to here. The ambiguity of this situation has eroded a lot of the trust that had started to grow back in professional cyclists, their teams and the those that govern the sport since that speech and that is the real sadness and frustration.

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