Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cloud hangs over history-seeking Froome at Giro

Cloud hangs over history-seeking Froome at Giro

Chris Froome arrives at Israel's Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, with Sky teammates on Tuesday ahead of Friday's start of the Giro d'Italia. AFP
Chris Froome arrives at Israel's Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, with Sky teammates on Tuesday ahead of Friday's start of the Giro d'Italia. AFP

Cloud hangs over history-seeking Froome at Giro

Chris Froome heads into the Giro d’Italia. which starts on Friday, insisting he is focusing on his attempt to make history by holding all three titles from cycling’s Grand Tours at the same time.

But the 32-year-old Briton is being weighed down by a cloud looming over his continued participation in professional cycling races while waiting for a doping storm to be resolved.

Froome tested positive in September last year for elevated levels of the asthma medication salbutamol, resulting in an adverse analytical finding.

But rather than face a doping suspension, he has been given the opportunity to explain his test result during the Tour of Spain race he won.

The issue has dragged on, with some prominent voices in cycling – such as world governing body chief David Lappartient – expressing his belief that Froome should have been suspended by his British team Sky pending an outcome to his case.

Froome and Sky insist the Kenyan-born athlete has done nothing wrong and simply took more puffs on his asthma inhaler than normal on the day he gave the adverse reading.

“I certainly haven’t been charged [with] anything as of yet and I hope to be fully exonerated of any wrongdoing because I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” Froome said last week when Sky announced their Giro line-up.

Tour de France organisers have insisted they want his case resolved before he aims for a record-equalling fifth victory in the world’s most prestigious cycle race in July but there is currently no end in sight to the scandal.

Should he be found guilty of a doping offence, Froome would likely lose his victory in the Tour of Spain and any subsequent results such as a Giro d’Italia success.

But should he win the three-week race around Italy, which starts on Friday with a time-trial in Jerusalem, he would become the first man since Bernard Hinault 35 years ago to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time and only the third ever to do so – with Belgian great Eddy Merckx out on his own having won four in a row in the 1970s.

‘Hugely frustrating’

Froome has admitted the whole doping investigation has been “hugely frustrating” because it “is now being played out in the public domain”.

Normally with an adverse analytical finding, which does not trigger a provisional suspension under International Cycling Union (UCI) rules, a rider would be spared public scrutiny.

But that wasn’t the case with Froome as a joint investigation by newspapers in Britain and France exposed the news in December.

Froome’s lawyers are working behind the scenes to fight his case with the UCI but even if he loses, he would likely appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

That would further delay any final decision on whether or not he will serve a ban, meaning he would continue competing for the sport’s biggest prizes.

While Giro organisers seem delighted to have the greatest stage racer of this generation gracing their event for the first time since 2010, when Froome was still a relative unknown, he might not face such a welcome at the Tour.

Froome has endured an at-times fractious relationship with French fans as some media have questioned the validity of his most explosive performances at a time when the sport is still suffering from the fall-out of the systematic doping of the Lance Armstrong era.

Froome has previously been grilled over doping and even the use of a motorised bike, with some fans considering him and his team guilty without trial.

In 2015 he claimed a fan threw urine over him during one Tour stage, while a Sky teammate said he’d been punched.

Many French fans support Froome but his team, and in particular team principal Dave Brailsford, are far from popular.

As for his Giro chances, he arrives in somewhat underwhelming form, although he insists that he’s “had a different start to the season as I’ve obviously been aiming to try and reach my peak quite a bit earlier than usual”.

Whereas in previous years he won a number of week-long stage races before arriving at the Tour, his best result in 2018 was fourth at last month’s Tour of the Alps, won by Giro rival Thibaut Pinot.

Struggling for form and facing the stress that doping suspicions impose on a rider in a sport with a sorry history of drug abuse, it has been a far from serene Giro build-up up for Froome.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Vietnamese workers in Koh Kong questioned

    The General Department of Immigration (GDI) is questioning 49 Vietnamese nationals who were working illegally in Koh Kong province to build a case and send them back to Vietnam, its Department of Investigation and Procedure director Kem Sarin said on Thursday. GDI forces and provincial authorities

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism