Four-time world champion Martin now ‘understands’ Froome case

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‘I certainly haven’t broken any rules’

Four-time world time trial champion Tony Martin says Chris Froome is not getting special treatment following his ‘adverse’ drugs test.

Froome had double the allowed limit of a legal asthma drug in his urine when tested at September’s Vuelta a Espana.

German Martin had said the case was a “scandal” but says he now understands cycling’s world governing body rules over such test results.

On Monday he posted a link to the full explanation of the UCI regulations.

“According to the rules, in a case involving a specified substance, every athlete shall have the chance to explain whether the numbers can be due to natural causes,” Martin posted on his Facebook page.

That followed comments made last Thursday, when the Katusha-Alpecin rider, 32, claimed authorities were applying “double-standards” to Froome’s case.

He said he was “angry” that Froome had not faced an immediate suspension while an investigation continued into the levels of salbutamol detected in the Briton’s urine.

Now, while admitting rules have not been broken, Martin says: “I will, as I always did, continue to take a strong position regarding the fight against doping and I will always remain an outspoken advocate for a 100% clean sport.”

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Froome, who won the Tour de France for a fourth time in 2017, denies any wrongdoing and, speaking on the Sports Personality of the Year programme on Sunday, the 32-year-old said he “understood people’s concerns”.

But he insisted he had “never taken more” of the drug “than I am allowed”.

Froome, who has suffered with asthma since childhood, was permitted to take salbutamol for his condition during the Vuelta, as it is not a banned substance.

He said he followed the advice of his doctor to increase the use of an inhaler when his symptoms worsened, but did not exceed the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) limit.

The urine test, taken on 7 September, showed Froome’s levels of salbutamol were at 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml), compared to Wada’s threshold of 1,000 ng/ml.

Because there are legitimate reasons why Froome was taking salbutamol, he has not been suspended and is providing more detail to the UCI.

He could face a series of laboratory tests to try to replicate and explain his adverse drugs test.

But the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), which is a voluntary anti-doping union involving seven of the 18 World Tour pro teams, has called for Team Sky to suspend Froome.

In a statement released on Monday it said “without making any assumption towards the final decision” it wants Team Sky to suspend Froome “on a voluntary basis, until the end of the procedure.

“This measure would allow the rider and its team to focus on their defence with serenity, but also to avoid tension among many managers and riders.”

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