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PARIS (AFP) — Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome should be suspended by his Sky team over his adverse drug test, according to world cycling governing body chief David Lappartient.
“Sky should suspend Froome,” Lappartient told French regional newspaper Le Telegramme. “Now, it’s not up to me to interfere. Without wishing to comment on the rider’s guilt, it would be easier for everyone [were Sky to suspend him]. It’s up to [Sky team manager Dave] 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.”
Lappartient said that regardless of Froome’s innocence or guilt, until he is either exonerated or found to have broken the rules, fans will not give him the benefit of the doubt.
“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,” said the UCI chief, who claimed he found out about the test result an hour after being elected to his post over Briton Brian Cookson on September 21.
“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.”
Regardless, Lappartient believes the affair will last a long time with the possibility of Froome appealing any eventual sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“It’s going to be a judicial battle that will last a long time,” Lappartient said. “This affair won’t be sorted out in two minutes, it could last at least a year.”
Some of Froome’s main rivals have hit out at cycling authorities for failing to ban the reigning Tour and Vuelta a Espana champion, who tested for elevated levels of the asthma medication salbutamol during his victory in Spain’s Grand Tour last September.
Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) described cycling as “a laughing stock” earlier this week over the affair. World time-trial champion Tom Dumoulin previously insisted his team, Sunweb, would have suspended him for a similar offense. Team Sunweb announced earlier this year an intense in-house anti-doping program independent and in addition to the UCI’s program.
Bardet even suggested that if Sky doesn’t suspend Froome, the rider himself should voluntarily “pull out” from racing “while waiting for the authorities to decide”. Lappartient said he understood Bardet’s feelings, adding: “He’s saying out loud what everyone’s thinking under their breath.”
Lappartient said he would look into the issue of therapeutic use exemptions (TUE), which many believe have been abused to allow riders to get an unfair advantage from legally taking banned substances.
The UCI president said he wanted to put in place “independent medical observation” that would prevent riders from competing if they’ve applied for and been granted a TUE. “That would allow us to solve the corticosteroids problem,” Lappartient added.
In 2016, the Russian hacking group Fancy Bears revealed that Bradley Wiggins, the first Briton to win the Tour in 2012 before Froome emulated him a year later, had received three TUEs during his career at crucial moments — before the Tour in 2011 and 2012 and the Giro d’Italia in 2013.
Wiggins claims he needed to take the corticosteroid triamcinolone to treat allergies but some ex-cyclists have spoken out against that claiming it would have given him a significant performance boost.
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Before each day's play at the Australian Open, we'll preview and predict three must-see matches.
Nick Kyrgios vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Kyrgios said he had fun in his only previous meeting with Tsonga, in Marseille last year, despite the fact that it ended in a three-set defeat. The 22-year-old Aussie grew up loving the 32-year-old Frenchman’s flamboyant, above-the-rim style of play, and you can see a lot of that style in the way Kyrgios approaches the game. Put the two together, and you have the makings of an explosive night match in Laver.
As for who will win it, Kyrgios is at home, is coming off a tournament win in Brisbane and seems to be in a positive frame of mind—at the moment. But Tsonga is coming off an electrifying comeback win over Denis Shapovalov from 2-5 down in the fifth. By the end, he was playing unstoppable tennis. With Jo, though, that doesn’t mean he’s going to be unstoppable again. Winner: Kyrgios
Tennis Channel Live on what's next for Nick Kyrgios and Grigor Dimitrov:
Grigor Dimitrov vs. Andrey Rublev
Was Dimitrov’s brush with disaster against Mackenzie McDonald a wake-up call or a death knell? If he has designs on the title here, Dimitrov shouldn’t be forced to go deep into a fifth set to scratch his way past the world No. 186. But at the same time, scratching through on off days is something that Grand Slam title winners must do every now and then.
What we know for certain is that Dimitrov will need to play better from the start against Rublev, who has recorded wins over two quality veterans, David Ferrer and Marcos Baghdatis, in his first two matches in Melbourne. More ominously for Dimitrov, the hard-hitting 20-year-old beat him in straight sets, in their only meeting, at the US Open last year. Winner: Rublev
Elina Svitolina vs. Marta Kostyuk
In this intra-national battle of Ukrainians, Svitolina is the heavy favorite. She’s ranked No. 6 and is the choice of many—including myself—to win the tournament. Kostyuk, by contrast, is 15 years old and ranked 521st. But the fact that she’s the youngest player to reach the third round of a major in this century tells you that she possesses special talent.
Watching her first two matches in Melbourne, it was hard to tell much difference between Kostyuk and the veteran pros that surrounded her; she can, if nothing else, rip a forehand with anyone. Svitolina, meanwhile, lost her forehand somewhere along the way during her slump-shouldered three-set win over Katerina Siniakova on Wednesday. She’ll need to find it again soon. Winner: Svitolina
Read Joel Drucker and Nina Pantic on as they report from the Australian Open, and watch them each day on The Daily Mix:
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More episodes of The VeloNews ShowVN Show: The shrinking peloton, CX Nationals moves to December
VN Show: Why we’re watching Sagan, Froome, and Boels Dolmans in 2018
VN Show: Chris Froome’s Salbutamol case is cycling’s biggest story
VN Show: Is Froome’s Giro participation a blast or a bummer?
More episodes of The VeloNews Show
VN Show: The shrinking peloton, CX Nationals moves to DecemberThe pro peloton is shrinking in 2018. No, we're not talking about Nairo Quintana and Esteban Chaves.
Editor’s note: This VeloNews Show includes images from YouTube/CXHairs, Red Bull Content Pool, YouTube/SlamerDad, YouTube/USA Cycling,, YouTube/TheLateShowwithJamesCorden,, Flickr Creative Commons This week’s episode of the VeloNews Show is sponsored by Health IQ, the life insurance company that works with cyclists. 
USA Cycling’s national cyclocross championships delivered plenty of drama and excitement this past weekend. On this week’s episode of The VeloNews Show we break down all of the action from Reno, Nevada.
Stephen Hyde and Jeremy Powers revived their rivalry in the elite men’s race. Katie Compton took her 14th national title in the women’s race. And some young up-and-coming racers turned heads with impressive rides.
One of those riders is Christopher Blevins, who already owns multiple national titles in mountain bike racing. That’s not the only reason we’re impressed with Blevins, however. Blevins is a budding music star, and on this week’s episode, we check out his music video.
All that and more on this week’s VeloNews Show.
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