Paris – World cycling's governing body has been accused of giving British rider Chris Froome an unfair advantage in the Tour of Romandie in April by allowing him to use a steroid-based drug.
According to the French Sunday newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, Froome, who went on to win the race in Switzerland, was suffering from a chill and was granted permission to use the steroid to treat the illness under the Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) rule.
The request for a TUE came from Tour de France winner Froome's Sky team doctor, Alan Farrell, and was approved “solely by the UCI medical sirector Mario Zorzoli”, the paper claimed.
The World Anti-Doping Agency is apprently studying the case, the paper said.
Froome was permitted to take up to 40mg of the drug prenisolone a day. The drug is administered in tablet form.
But according to Dr Gerard Guillaume, cited by the Journal du Dimanche as an expert: “The rules state that taking steroids by mouth is prohibited during competition and that if a cyclist displays a condition requiring such a treatment, he is clearly not fit to take part and that any request for a TUE must be considered by a group of experts.”
Team Sky rejected the allegations and dismissed accusations of collusion because UCI president Brian Cookson's son is on the Sky staff.
“That's ridiculous,” snapped team boss Dave Brailsford.
Cookson was president of British Cycling before his election as UCI supremo last year and Brailsford said: “I've worked with Brian for 16 years at British Cycling and no-one has ever said anything. His son works with us, but I don't think that raises any questions.”
He added: “Dr Zorzoli, the UCI doctor, told us what we could and coudn't do, we've always stayed within the rules, so we've got nothing to hide.”
Froome, who withdrew from the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic on April 27, was able two days later to start the Tour of Romandie, the only race in his programme for April and May.
He went on to win the final stage, a time trial, and seal victory in the race for a second year running. – Sapa-AFP