Bernard Hinault's name has been mentioned a few times in recent days after Chris Froome's Giro d'Italia win saw him join the Frenchman and Eddy Merckx as the only cyclists to have held all three Grand Tour titles at the same time. And it turns out, the Badger is not very happy about it at all.
“Froome does not belong on that list,” said Hinault, according to a report in Belgian newspaper Het Laaste Nieuws cited by The Guardian.
“He should never have been allowed to start in the Giro,” he continued, a reference to Froome's ongoing salbutamol case.
“Why do we have to wait so long for a verdict? With what right does Froome get so much time to find an explanation? Is it because Sky has so much money?”
The Team Sky rider returned an adverse analytical finding for twice the permitted level of the anti-asthma drug salbutamol at last year's Vuelta, which he won, making him the first man since Hinault in 1978 to win that race and the Tour de France in the same year.
Because salbutamol is a specified substance, rather than one that is completely banned, UCI rules permit Froome, who is confident of clearlng his name, while the rider seeks to provide an explanation about why the levels were so high.
The ongoing case has clearly left a bitter taste in Hinault's mouth, however.
“This is all very sad,” he said.
“Froome is not part of the legend of the sport, because what image does he give cycling?"
UCI president David Lappartient has said that there is now less than a 50 per cent chance of the case being resolved before the Tour de France starts in six weeks' time.
“He may also start the Tour later," Hinault added.
"It’s a real scandal. This has to stop.”
There could be worse to come for the 63-year-old in July.
Should Froome successfully defend his title, he would equal the record held jointly by Hinault, Merckx, Miguel Indurain and Jaques Anquetil.
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