UCI president wants Team Sky to suspend Froome
International Cycling Union (UCI) president David Lappartient has called for Team Sky to suspend its star rider Chris Froome while an investigation into the adverse drugs test he returned during the Vuelta a Espana continues.
Froome is under scrutiny after a urine sample submitted during his successful Vuelta campaign showed elevated levels of the asthma medication salbutamol.
Salbutamol is permitted by WADA rules without the need for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) when inhaled up to a limit of 1,600 micrograms over 24 hours.
However, the sample returned by Froome displayed a concentration of the substance that was double the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) threshold of 1,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml).
The rider has insisted he has not broken the rules, while Sky's general manager David Brailsford has said he is confident Froome stayed "within the permissible dose for salbutamol".
The adverse finding does not necessarily constitute a breach of the rules and Froome has not been hit with a provisional suspension.
Nevertheless, Lappartient, who was elected to replace Brian Cookson as UCI chief in September, feels the four-time Tour de France champion should not be permitted by his team to compete while an investigation into the situation continues.
"Sky should suspend Froome," Lappartient was quoted as telling Le Telegramme by L'Equipe. "Now, it's not up to me to interfere. Without wishing to comment on the rider's guilt, it would be easier for everyone [if Froome was suspended by his team].
"It's up to Brailsford to take his responsibilities. Quite apart from that, I think that's what the other riders want.
"They're fed up with the general image.
"Whether the test result is abnormal or not, either naturally or fraudulently, it's awful: in the eyes of the wider public he's already guilty.
"We're in the hands of the experts. It's up to Froome to demonstrate the reasons for such a high level of salbutamol, it's up to him to prove his innocence."
When contacted by Omnisport, Team Sky declined the opportunity to respond to Lappartient's comments.
Froome is due to compete at the Giro d'Italia, the only grand tour event he is yet to win, in May, and Lappartient is concerned the matter will not be settled when the race begins.
"It's going to be a judicial battle that will last a long time," he said. "This affair won't be sorted out in two minutes, it could last at least a year."
After news of the adverse sample emerged last month, Froome insisted he will cooperate fully with the UCI's investigation.
"I certainly haven't broken any rules here," he told BBC Sport.
"I know what those rules are, I know what those limits are and I have never been over those limits. I have given all that information to the UCI to help get to the bottom of it."