German cyclist Tony Martin has slammed the International Cycling Union for applying a “double-standard” approach in handling Chris Froome's case, whose doping test revealed unacceptably high levels of banned steroid salbutamol.
A doping test taken from Froome during the Vuelta a España race in Spain last September indicated elevated levels of the anti-asthma medicine. However, the four-time Tour de France winner denied doping, saying it was down to experiencing acute asthma symptoms during the final week of Vuelta, adding that he has nothing “to be ashamed of.”
In a lengthy post published on his Facebook page on Thursday, Martin criticized the governing body, saying other riders would have been immediately suspended in a similar situation, instead of the International Cycling Union (UCI) allowing Froome and his team time to explain their predicament.
“I am totally angry. There is definitely a double standard being applied in the Christopher Froome’s case,” the German athlete wrote.
“Other athletes are suspended immediately after a positive test. He and his team are given time by the UCI to explain it all. I do not know of any similar case in the recent past. That is a scandal, and he should at least not have been allowed to appear in the World Championships.”
The 32-year old suggested that Froome benefits from a “special status” in the cycling community, which leaves him practically immune from punishment.
It’s sad seeing the misconceptions that are out there about athletes & salbutamol use. My hope is that this doesn’t prevent asthmatic athletes from using their inhalers in emergency situations for fear of being judged. It is not something to be ashamed of @asthmauk#asthma
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) December 14, 2017
“Not only the public but also I have immediately the impression that there is wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes, agreements are being made and ways are being sought as to how to get out of this case. Do he and his team enjoy a special status?” Martin noted.
Martin, a four-time world champion in the men’s time trial, said the UCI’s soft reaction to Froome’s alleged doping violations are a “major blow” to the fight against anti-doping.
"These actions are major blow to the difficult anti-doping fight, which I am leading with riders like Marcel Kittel. We need a consequent and transparent approach by the UCI. What is going on here is inconsequent, not transparent, unprofessional and unfair,” he said.
Froome was outspoken when his Sky teammate, Bradley Wiggins, was implicated in doping last year. Wiggins insisted the use of substances banned by WADA was authorized by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which granted him a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to treat allergies.
Back then, Froome said he didn’t support a “win at all costs” approach, calling on the UCI and WADA to address possible “abuse” of TUEs.
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