The Association of Professional Cyclists has come out in support of Chris Froome as the Tour de France leader continues to face speculation about doping.
Froome, who today extended his hold on the yellow jersey with victory in the individual time trial to Chorges, has faced daily questioning on the topic ever since taking the overall lead with victory on Ax 3 Domaines more than a week and a half ago.
His patience has begun to wear thin after his stunning victory on Mont Ventoux on Sunday was questioned rather than celebrated.
With no actual evidence against Froome beyond the scepticism of those all too familiar with cycling’s troubled past, there is a feeling the Team Sky man is paying the price for others’ misdeeds.
“It’s not fair to blame someone without evidence against him,” said Gianni Bugno, president of the CPA, in a statement today.
“We demand more respect for Chris and for all the riders. We are witnessing a daily attack against the dignity of the riders in a manner that can no longer be tolerated.”
The CPA, while acknowledging the catalogue of scandals that have brought the sport to this point, said the riders were now “the most controlled athletes in the world”.
“Unlike all the other disciplines only in cycling is it quite normal to investigate and tarnish the image of athletes of the present and of the past,” the statement said.
“Now we come to the paradox, with Froome, to publicly condemn an athlete without having any evidence against him.”
Although Froome patiently answered questions during his first week in yellow, Team Sky have grown increasingly frustrated with Monday’s rest day press conference dominated by the topic less than 24 hours removed from Froome’s win on Mont Ventoux.
Team principal Sir Dave Brailsford responded by offering to allow representatives of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to come and “live” with the team in order to study their data and judge whether Froome’s results were credible.
While WADA welcomed Team Sky’s attempts to be open, the organisation said it would only be able to intervene if invited by the International Cycling Union.
“We encourage all those involved in sport to share relevant intelligence with those whose aim it is to promote fair and clean sport,” WADA said in a statement.
“We would always be receptive to information that will aid the fight against doping in sport.
“We have not received a formal invitation from any team to observe data and practices.
“It is not specifically in WADA’s mandate to accept specific team or individual requests, however, and we undertake at-event observation programs only if invited to do so by an international federation.”