Chris Froome has denied he is ready to accept a six-month ban from cycling by admitting negligence following his failed drug test last year.
The four-times Tour de France winner reacted to a claim in an Italian newspaper that he was preparing to accept the six-month sanction as a plea bargain on the advice of his wife, Michelle, who is also his manager. The article suggested he would agree to an “acceptance of consequences” deal in order to avoid the case reaching an independent anti-doping trial.
Froome tweeted: “I have seen the report in Corriere della Sera this morning – it’s completely untrue.”
It is understood the rider will not accept a ban of even one day in relation to his failed test at the Vuelta a España last September when double the permitted amount of a banned asthma drug, salbutamol, was found in his system.
It is understood Froome, his advisers at Team Sky and his lawyer, Mike Morgan, are still committed to finding a physiological reason to explain why he returned an adverse analytical finding to a urine test.
Froome won the Vuelta but could have that title stripped if he is given an anti-doping rule violation. He also rode for Great Britain in the time trial world championships after being told of his failed test and could be stripped of the bronze medal he won there.
The 32-year-old is still entered for the Giro d’Italia in May and the Tour De France, despite David Lappartient, the head of cycling’s world governing body the UCI, calling on Team Sky to suspend Froome immediately. It is understood they have no plans to do so but the UCI does have the power to suspend him even with the appeal process outstanding.
Froome is training near his home in Johannesburg, where he completed an astonishing 271.65km (168.8 miles) ride this week with only two breaks in seven hours, longer than almost any stage last year.
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