Doping questions follow Froome after Ventoux victory
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Briton Chris Froome is looking increasingly likely to wear the yellow jersey over the finish line of the Tour de France on July 21. But his astonishing performance in Sunday’s climb up Mont Ventoux has led to renewed suspicion of doping.
British rider Chris Froome’s astonishing performance in the Tour de France's gruelling climb up Mont Ventoux in Provence on Sunday will open him to ever more intensive questions about doping, according to his Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford.
Froome became the first British winner of the punishing mountain stage of the Tour de France, the same climb into thin air that took the life of fellow countryman Tom Simpson in 1967, who died from a lethal cocktail of heat, drugs and exhaustion.
Froome made the climb to the 1,912 metre summit in 59 minutes – the fastest un-disqualified ascent on record. The air was so thin at the top that he had to take oxygen after he passed the finish line.
The British national is now four minutes and 14 seconds ahead of Dutchman Bauke Mollema, with less than a week to go before the final sprint down the Champs Elysées in Paris.
Short of a fall, his lead virtually guarantees him victory.
Undertones of suspicion
In a sport that has been mired in doping scandals, commentators are hanging on Froome’s insistence that he’s riding clean.
But his astonishing and relentless performance has not quieted an undertone of suspicion beneath the broad admiration for his record-breaking performance.
“The events of the recent past are sufficient cause for unhealthy suspicion,” ran an editorial in regional daily Ouest France. “Team Sky and Chris Froome spend much time justifying their excellent results by their extensive altitude training.
“While they are certainly not resting on their laurels, the same arguments were used by other victors who were subsequently deprived of their titles for doping. Lance Armstrong is the black symbol of this suspicion."
‘Lance cheated, I don’t cheat, end of story’
Froome has been asked numerous times during this year’s race if he’s riding clean. He insists that he is.
On Sunday, one Norwegian journalist asked him: “The way you are racing today reminds some people of Lance Armstrong, how do you react to that?”
Froome replied: “I am going to take that as a compliment. To win the way so many big names have won on such a famous climb means a lot.”
“Lance cheated, I didn’t cheat, end of story,” he added.
Data for independent scrutiny
The Team Sky boss, Dave Brailsford, said on Sunday that he expected renewed scrutiny following Froome’s Ventoux exploit.
“We have a great performance and 10 minutes later, you know, I jump for joy like this, and then 10 minutes later, I guarantee you, I’ll be answering all these questions and allegations of doping for the next few days,” he said.
On Monday, Team Sky volunteered to open up all of Froome’s training and performance data and blood readings to independent scrutiny in a bid to silence any suspicions of doping.
Brailsford told reporters: “Every day we get asked the same question and I can assure you that we are thinking very hard about the optimal way of proving to you guys that we are not doping."