(AFP) – Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome said Monday he never doubted he would be cleared by the sport’s governing body over having twice the permissible amount of asthma drug Salbutamol in his system.
The delighted 33-year-old Kenyan-born rider — who has been under a cloud since returning that test at last year’s Vuelta e Espana — said he is now looking forward to attempting to win a fifth Tour de France which gets underway on Saturday.
“I am very pleased that the UCI has exonerated me,” he said in a statement issued by Team Sky. “While this decision is obviously a big deal for me and the Team, it’s also an important moment for cycling.”
His participation had been in doubt after it was reported Sunday that race organisers had banned Froome from taking part to protect the integrity of the world’s best-known cycling race.
“I have never doubted that this case would be dismissed for the simple reason that I have known throughout I did nothing wrong. I have suffered with asthma since childhood.
“I know exactly what the rules are regarding my asthma medication and I only ever use my puffer to manage my symptoms within the permissible limits.
“Of course, the UCI had to examine these test results from the Vuelta.”
Froome, whose Giro win in May made him the first man to hold all three Grand Tours at once since French legend Bernard Hinault in 1983, said he was unhappy at the manner in which the test results had been leaked.
“Unfortunately, the details of the case did not remain confidential, as they should have done,” he said. “And I appreciate more than anyone else the frustration at how long the case has taken to resolve and the uncertainty this has caused. I am glad it’s finally over.”
Froome is out to emulate five-time Tour de France winners Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain.
He said that as team leader he would never have besmirched the sport.
“I have always taken my leadership position very seriously and I always do things the right way,” he said. “I meant it when I said that I would never dishonour a winner’s jersey and that my results would stand the test of time.”
A win this year would make Froome the second racer after Merckx to win four straight Tours.
“Today’s ruling draws a line. It means we can all move on and focus on the Tour de France,” said Froome.