PARIS • Tour de France organisers have reportedly formally blocked Chris Froome from competing in this year's race, but the four-time champion's wife, Michelle, has insisted he will defend his title when cycling's biggest event begins on Saturday.
The Team Sky star has been under a cloud since he was found to have twice the permissible amount of asthma drug salbutamol in his system during September's Vuelta a Espana, which he won.
Five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault called for the peloton to strike if the British rider lines up at this year's event, while Froome responded on Wednesday that he will compete in this year's race.
Cyclingnews.com quoted Team Sky as responding to yesterday's Le Monde report that they are "confident that Chris will be riding the Tour as we know he has done nothing wrong".
A final decision on the organisers' attempt to prevent him from taking part is expected to be made by the French National Olympic and Sports Committee tomorrow.
Technically, while Froome awaits the result of an ongoing investigation into his doping case, he can still ride on the Tour.
According to the letter of the rules, Froome is authorised to ride until a final decision from the anti-doping tribunal of the International Cycling Union (UCI) regarding his ongoing case.
Le Monde said Froome, who is to be defended by British sports lawyer Mike Morgan, will not necessarily attend tomorrow's meeting by the French committee.
According to Tour statutes, organisers may ban a rider or a team if their presence is seen as liable to damage the image or reputation of the organisers or the event.
Team Sky have yet to unveil their eight-strong Tour team.
Froome, who denies wrongdoing, is out to emulate five-time winners Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS