PARIS (Reuters) - Defending champion Chris Froome will ride the Tour de France even if the owners of cycling’s biggest race want to prevent the four-times winner from appearing in this year’s event due to an ongoing doping investigation, his wife told Reuters.
The Team Sky rider, who last week said he had every right to defend his title from July 7, tested positive for excessive levels of the asthma drug Salbutamol at last September’s Vuelta a Espana. But he is confident of being cleared of doping after an investigation.
Citing sources close to the matter on Sunday, French daily Le Monde said Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which owns the event, was trying to prevent Froome from starting the race.
“Chris will ride the Tour,” Froome’s wife and representative Michelle Froome told Reuters on Sunday.
The daily newspaper said ASO had sent a letter to Team Sky asking them not to include Froome in their team line-up to protect the Tour’s image.
ASO was not immediately available for comment.
The Briton was criticised in June by five-times Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault, who called on riders to go on strike if Froome competes at the race.
Reporting by Julien Pretot, John Irish and Sophie Louet; Editing by Hugh Lawson