Chris Froome On Adverse Test Result: "This Is Damaging"

Team Sky's Chris Froome still holds the overall lead in the general classification after stage 13 of the Vuelta a España today

Cycling's governing body UCI has asked the Team Sky rider to provide more information but in line with World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines has not suspended him.

"If this positive test is confirmed it will not feel as if I climbed onto the highest step of the podium to be declared champion in Madrid", said the 2014 Tour de France victor. The team said that he was experiencing "acute asthma symptoms".

The British cyclist was found to have twice the permissible amount of legal asthma drug Salbutamol in his system during September's race.

Team Sky rider Froome, 32, risks missing next year's Tour de France and could lose his Vuelta crown unless he can provide a satisfactory explanation for the failed test during the Spanish race.

"I use an inhaler to manage my symptoms", he said.

"At the same time I know within me that fundamentally I have followed the protocol, I have not overstepped any boundaries and I hope by the end of this process that will be clear to everyone and I'll be exonerated of any wrongdoing".

"I am racing against guys who are looking for any kind of weakness", Froome said.

The adverse analytical finding occurred in a routine test after the Vuelta's 18th stage on September 7 - a day that saw Froome respond to a disappointing ride the day before by stretching his lead over rival Vincenzo Nibali on the last climb.

"I took the greatest care to ensure I did not use more than the permissible dose".

Froome himself spoke out and said his allergies worsened late in the Vuelta, so he took puffs from his inhaler that contained the drug Salbutamol.

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Froome, widely considered the greatest Tour rider of his generation, is scheduled to race the Giro d'Italia in May 2018 ahead of defending his Tour de France title in July 2018.

"I have been only too happy to help the UCI fill in the blanks and give all that information up to try and get to the bottom of what has happened".

Froome tweeted on Thursday: "It's sad seeing the misconceptions that are out there about athletes & salbutamol use".

That tweet drew this response from Dutch journalist Thijs Zonneveld: "It's not about asthma, you know that very well". "Do he and his team enjoy a special status?"

The UCI did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its actions, which Martin denounced as a "major blow to the hard anti-doping fight". Commonly marketed as Ventolin, salbutamol is classified as a beta-2 agonist and WADA allows it to be taken through inhalation only, in limited amounts.

Team Sky has been dominating the field at the Tour de France in recent years, but has been targeted by doping accusations.

Dr. Dickinson told CNN World Sport's Amanda Davies that while inhaled doses of Salbutamol did not boost endurance performance, taking the medication orally could improve sprinting power performance.

"So we've been able to hand that over to the authorities and let's go from there".

Dr. Dickinson also said it was possible for Froome to argue his case successfully.

"There might be a few pieces of evidence that Chris can put together which may explain why his level is above the WADA limit or he's acted within the rules".

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