MPCC pressures Sky to suspend Froome

The Sky rider had higher-than-allowed amounts of Salbutamol in his system during the Vuelta a Espana.

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MPCC — the voluntary advocacy group promoting cycling ethics — is pressuring Team Sky to suspend Chris Froome until his asthma case plays out.

Team Sky is not among seven WorldTour teams that are part of the group, but that didn’t stop the MPCC board from pressing its case that the best thing for cycling is for Froome to temporarily step aside.

“[The] MPCC and its Board of Directors, without making any assumption towards the final decision, asks Team Sky to suspend its rider on a voluntary basis, until the end of the procedure,” an MPCC press release stated Monday. “This measure would allow the rider and its team to focus on their defense with serenity, but also to avoid tension among many managers and riders.”

The fact that Froome is still able to race — though it is worth pointing out there are no major races until next month — has rankled some within the cycling community.

WADA rules, however, state clearly that Froome is not facing a provisional ban for turning in a urine sample in September with double the allowed limit of Salbutamol. The drug is a threshold product — called a “specified substance” in WADA jargon — and does not trigger a provisional ban in the case of an “adverse analytical finding.”

Froome is currently in Mallorca for a Team Sky pre-season training camp, and shows no signs of stepping aside as his case plays out. Froome denies culpability, and said he did not take more than allowed doses of Salbutamol, a product that is allowed under WADA rules in spray form but under strict quantity limits.

The MPCC — Movement Pour Cyclisme Credible — was created in 2007. Twenty Pro Continental team, nine Continental teams, and six women’s teams are members.

As of now, only seven WorldTour teams participate: Ag2r-La Mondiale, Bora-Hansgrohe, Dimension Data, FDJ, Lotto-Soudal, Team Sunweb, and Education First-Drapac (Cannondale-Drapac).

MPCC members vow to follow a stricter ethical code than outlined by WADA and UCI rules, in part to engender confidence via transparency. One of those tenets is to voluntarily sideline riders if they run afoul with an anti-doping investigation.

Froome tested positive for elevated levels of Salbutamol in a routine anti-doping control on September 7. Froome and Team Sky were notified September 20. The story only broke via leaks last week.

The MPCC also requested a formal investigation into comments made by former Sky coach Shane Sutton in a BBC documentary suggesting that Team Sky’s use of TUEs (therapeutic-use exceptions) might have been for a competitive advantage.

“MPCC also requests that UCI opens an inquiry following Shane Sutton’s statements. The former Team Sky and UK’s national team’s coach admitted that some of the medicine requiring a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) might have been used to enhance performance,” the release said.

“Given the zero tolerance that everyone advocates and the necessity for transparency, MPCC renews its wish to see Team Sky and all the other teams, sponsors, organizers … to join MPCC on a voluntary basis. MPCC’s philosophy, alongside the UCI, can make a real difference in the fight against doping.”

Listen to our discussion of the Froome case on the VeloNews podcast:

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