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Court of Arbitration for Sport member predicts Chris Froome vs ASO legal battle over right to ride Tour de France

Sports law professor Jack Anderson also believes it will be “very difficult” for Team Sky rider to escape ban

A member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has said he expects there to be a legal battle between Tour de France champion Chris Froome and race organisers ASO regarding the Team Sky rider’s participation in this year’s 105th edition of the race.

Speaking to, CAS member Jack Anderson, who is Professor of Sports Law at the University of Melbourne, also said that he believes it would be “very difficult” for Froome to escape a ban following his adverse analytical finding (AAF) for twice the permitted level of the anti-asthma drug salbutamol at last year’s Vuelta.

Despite repeated calls for Froome to voluntarily suspend himself, he has continued to race as he is permitted to do under the rules since salbutamol is a specified substance rather than a banned one, so no provisional suspension applies.

Earlier this week, five-time Tour de France champion Bernard Hinault pulled no punches as he tore into Froome for continuing to race while he seeks to provide an explanation for the AAF. "It’s a real scandal,” he said. “This has to stop.”

> Bernard Hinault: “Froome is not part of the legend of the sport"

UCI president David Lappartient, meanwhile, has said he believes there is now less than 50 per cent chance of the case being resolved ahead of the Tour de France starting on 7 July.

In winning the Giro d’Italia at the weekend, Froome joins Hinault and Eddy Merckx in holding all three Grand Tour titles at the same time, and in July could equal the record they hold jointly with Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain of five Tour de France victories.

While Hinault no longer works with ASO, a report in the Gazzetta dello Sport this week suggests that ASO may seek to prevent Froome from participating in this year’s race, citing a rule that allows them to do so to protect the Tour de France’s image.

And if that happens, Anderson expects lawyers to get involved. He cited the case of Tom Boonen, whom ASO tried to exclude from the 2009 edition after he tested positive for cocaine.

“It was out of competition and it was not a technical violation of cycling’s anti-doping code at the time,” he explained.

“The race organisers feared that if they allowed him in, it would tarnish the Tour’s reputation so they made moves to stop that.

“This then went through an internal French sports arbitration process and eventually ended up in the French courts, which allowed him to compete.

“So there is precedent there. ASO have lost in previous times and this will be the argument that Froome will make.”

Anderson believes that if ASO did try and exclude Froome from the race, his argument would be that he had not been convicted of an anti-doping rule violation and would also be likely to use the Boonen case as a precedent.

But he added that while Froome’s case would be built on legal principles – “he hasn’t been convicted of anything, he’s entitled to due process, and while that process is ongoing he’s entitled to ride” – ASO could nevertheless exclude him from the race on ethical grounds.

In support of that, he cited the case of Russian athletes ahead of this year’s Winter Olympics who, while cleared of anti-doping charges after appealing to CAS, were told by the International Olympic Committee that they could not compete at Pyeongchang.

Anderson said: “The Court of Arbitration for Sport was invoked again a second time and the Court of Arbitration for Sport said ‘Yes, there is a difference between being eligible’ — and Froome is eligible — ‘and the organisers right to invite’.

“Now the key point is: what are the criteria about your invitation? Are you just going to invoke something that says ‘Oh, we’re protecting the reputation of the race’? What exactly is the basis for that? Will that basis be applied consistently and into the future?

“Given what Froome has done in the Giro, he now holds all three tours consecutively, he’s going for a fifth Tour — this is historic proportions,” he added. “Will the ASO say ‘no’? It’s going to end up with the lawyers in either event, I think.”

Regarding the issue of whether he believes Froome will be banned once the salbutamol case has been decided, he said: “Based on the precedent you would imagine yes, that that would be the case. It’s very difficult to make the argument they’re making. But I have to say: they’re absolutely entitled to make it and they will give significant resources to it.

He added that if Froome were suspended, he would “definitely” lose his Vuelta title, given that was the race he returned AAV on, and that because he chose not to suspend himself, he might also lose the bronze medal he won in the time trial at September’s UCI Road World Championships as well as his Giro d’Italia victory.

“Whether the UCI independent arbitrator would do this is a matter for him,” he added.

Like Lappartient, Anderson doesn’t expect the case to be resolved ahead of the Tour de France, not least because of the prospect of any decision being appealed to CAS.

With eight months having passed since Froome was told of the AAF, and more than six since it became public, it does not seem as though there will be a resolution any time soon.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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zanf | 5 years ago
1 like

If he rides the tour, I can see him getting alot more urine thrown at him

Paul J | 5 years ago
1 like

For those saying Froome hasn't been proven to have taken drugs, sorry that's plain wrong: he had a bucketload of salbutamol in his blood, twice an already generous limit. Even Froome himself doesn't dispute that.

Simon E replied to Paul J | 5 years ago

Paul J wrote:

For those saying Froome hasn't been proven to have taken drugs, sorry that's plain wrong: he had a bucketload of salbutamol in his blood, twice an already generous limit. Even Froome himself doesn't dispute that.

"a bucketload?" FFS!

The limit is 1,000 ng/ml. I know a thousand is a big number for people with little brains but that really is a very small amount. A nanogram is 1/1,000,000,000th of a gram.

And it was in his urine, not his blood. They aren't interchangeable. It doesn't mean there was the same concentration in his blood.

It would be very interesting to know how much salbutamol was in the samples from all his previous and subsequent tests. And how much is found in other riders' samples. We could then see how prevalent its use is (bearing in mind that this case has caused people to question the validity of the urine test. But that won't bother the shouty types who just want to do some stoning).

peted76 replied to Simon E | 5 years ago
1 like

Simon E wrote:

But that won't bother the shouty types who just want to do some stoning).

This whole debacle, ever since the initial bears leak is almost modelled on Monty Python sketch. 

Here's the Stoning scene from Life of Brian.. 

OFFICIAL: have been found guilty by the elders of the town of uttering the name of our Lord, and so, as a blasphemer,...

CROWD: Ooooh!

OFFICIAL: are to be stoned to death.


MATTHIAS: Look. I-- I'd had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was, 'That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.'

CROWD: Oooooh!

OFFICIAL: Blasphemy! He's said it again!


(the whole scene is here for those who like sillyness - )

madcarew replied to Paul J | 5 years ago
Paul J wrote:

For those saying Froome hasn't been proven to have taken drugs, sorry that's plain wrong: he had a bucketload of salbutamol in his blood, twice an already generous limit. Even Froome himself doesn't dispute that.

Of course he takes drugs, as does nearly every citizen of the western world. The question is whether he took drugs against the rules of cycling. He may have a nano-bucket load of salbutamol metabolite in his urine (his blood wasn't tested for that). It will take a bucket load of lawyers and experts to establish whether they got there due to "illegal" actions. Your idea of a 'generous limit 'is not based on the biological reality of 'drug taking' and subsequent metabolytes

I have read his sample was 140 mls so there was about .28 mg in the entire sample, or about one fifth the weight of a single hair off a cyclists unshaven leg.

bornslippy | 5 years ago
1 like

What reputation?

alansmurphy | 5 years ago

The reputation was damaged when they chucked Sagan out last year in the hope that a Frenchman may win the points jersey...

Martyn_K | 5 years ago

Strange how ASO seem hell bent on stopping a rider who has not been found guilty when historically proven guilty riders have been welcomed and in some cases won the TdF.

David Lappartient wants the issue to be resolved quickly? Well get your organisation to make a bloody decision then.


I doubt if Sky or Froome himself are dragging their heels providing the required information to the authorities. Reputational damage to Sky is massive the longer this drags on. Froome himself will also further suffer reputationally but also physically from abuse on the roadside, social media and potentially off the bike.

Meanwhile the UCI officials are sat in their marble floored office pondering what to do. I expect the fact that the AAF was leaked, potentially by someone in the UCI, has backed them into a bit of a corner.

burtthebike | 5 years ago

“The race organisers feared that if they allowed him in, it would tarnish the Tour’s reputation....."

Given the history of the TdF, it is difficult to see how someone not proven to have taken drugs could possibly tarnish it further than the previous rampant drug taking has.  Perhaps if they allowed Armstrong to race, that might do it.

waldner71 | 5 years ago

It is absolutely scandalous that this is being allowed to rumble on and on.

The whole process needs expediting  and a decision made promptly, the longer it drags on the worse it is for everyone.


In the meantime we have trial by media. Does anyone know exactly why is it taking this long to reach a decision? 

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