Chris Froome 'confident' of clearing name in doping probe as he prepares to start season next week
Chris Froome will begin his season on February 14 by racing at the Ruta del Sol, the five-day stage race in Andalucia, with the investigation into his use of an inhaler yet to be concluded.
The 32-year-old - the overall winner of the Ruta del Sol three years ago - has been training in South Africa as he begins preparations for a planned unprecedented treble assault on the Grand Tours of the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.
However, he begins the season with an investigation into use of an inhaler hanging over him.
The four-times Tour de France winner was found to have double the allowed amount of the legal drug Salbutamol in his system in a test after Stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana, which he won, on September 7
Team Sky said in a press release on Monday that they were "providing information" alongside Froome to the International Cycling Union "regarding Chris’s use of his asthma medication at last year’s Vuelta a Espana".
Froome said in December his use of an inhaler is "not something to be ashamed of" after a urine test at the Vuelta showed excess levels of an asthma medication.
“I’m confident that we will be able to get to the bottom of what has happened, and I’m working hard with the team to do that," said Froome.
"Obviously I understand that this situation has created a lot of uncertainty. I completely get why there has been so much interest and speculation.
"I hope that people will appreciate there are limits to what I can say whilst the process is still ongoing but no-one is keener than me to move things forward as quickly as possible. "
“I have put in a hard training block in January. It’s been good to be out on my bike and to get the miles under my belt.
“It’s been a couple of years now since I was last at Ruta del Sol. It’s a race I’ve enjoyed in the past, and so I’m looking forward to going back there”.
Froome risks being banned from cycling, which has struggled for decades with doping scandals, and could lose his Vuelta title if he cannot provide a satisfactory explanation for the adverse test finding.
Sky Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said there was hard work going on to ensure a swift resolution.
Chris Froome (Team Sky)Getty Images
"We all recognise that these are difficult circumstances, but it’s important for all sides that this process is conducted fairly before a final conclusion is reached," said Brailsford.
"It is a complex situation, but we’re working as hard as we can with Chris to resolve things as soon as possible."