Vuelta a España race director Javier Guillen has called for a resolution to the Chris Froome salbutamol case before the start of the 2018 edition on August 25. Froome won last year’s Vuelta, but risks being stripped of the title after returning a positive test for salbutamol following stage 18.
As salbutamol is a specified substance, Froome is free to race until the case is resolved. The Team Sky rider won the Giro d’Italia last month and looks set to line out at the Tour de France in July.
“What is absolutely necessary for the 2018 Vuelta is to start out knowing who has won the Vuelta of 2017,” Guillen said in a press conference, according to Marca. “We can’t be in the position a year later of not knowing what has happened.”
If Froome were to be sanctioned with a doping offence and stripped of his Vuelta title, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) would enter the record books as the winner of the 2017 Vuelta.
When news of Froome’s salbutamol case first broke last December, Vuelta organiser Unipublic said that its position was one “of extreme caution.” Froome’s anti-doping sample contained twice the permissible threshold of salbutamol, but the case has proven to be a protracted one, with no resolution in sight some nine months on from the 2017 Vuelta.
“Froome has won the Giro and we do not know what will happen with the rest of the races that he can ride. I get the feeling that with the passing of time it becomes more complicated,” Guillen said. “I do not know what we would do [if Froome were to ride the Vuelta – ed.] but I do know that the Vuelta must know who won in 2017 before the 2018 edition begins.
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