LONDON • Team Sky have been accused of deceiving the Giro d'Italia organisers into handing over a reported €1.4 million (S$2.2 million) in appearance fees by not disclosing that their star rider Chris Froome had failed a drug test.
According to the Giro race director Mauro Vegni, Dave Brailsford's team entered into negotiations over Froome's appearance in the Giro knowing the rider had returned an adverse finding from a urine test on his way to winning the Vuelta a Espana last September.
Sky secured a hefty fee for the four-time Tour de France winner and a support team to contest the Giro, which began yesterday in Jerusalem, the first time the race has travelled outside Europe.
But, on the eve of the event, Vegni made the claim that he felt let down by Brailsford after the Guardian and the French newspaper Le Monde made public news of Froome's failed test in December.
He said this was the first time he became aware of the anti-doping case lingering over the Briton, which could lead to Froome being suspended from cycling for several months.
Asked if he felt deceived by Brailsford, Vegni replied: "Definitely, yes. The negotiations with Team Sky took place before the Giro presentation so I would have expected within a correct relationship to be informed. I didn't really like this."
In a bid to repair relations with the organisers, Brailsford flew to Italy to explain the situation.
"Dave himself was not pleased and he told me that in fact he did not receive the information until the end of September," Vegni added.
"But he also said to me that he was confident that this whole issue will find a solution."
The launch of the 101st edition of the Giro took place last November, with Froome confirming his participation via a video message.
The 32-year-old arrived in Israel this week confident of clinching a triple crown of grand tour wins: the Tour de France, Vuelta, and now Giro, all in a row. But there is every chance his Vuelta title could be taken away if he receives an anti-doping rule violation.
Cycling's world governing body, the UCI, sent a letter to Team Sky, Froome and British Cycling to inform them of the failed test on Sept 20.
It is understood that talks with Giro organisers began in the following weeks.
In a statement, Team Sky said: "The UCI process regarding Chris would normally have remained confidential. The team wanted to fully respect this but since it became public, we have stayed in regular touch with the Giro organisers about it.
"We received and agreed the final race contract within the last three weeks - obviously some time after the issue had become public."