LONDON • Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome said yesterday he never doubted he would be cleared by the sport's governing body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) over having twice the permissible amount of asthma drug Salbutamol in his system.
The 33-year-old British rider - who has been under a cloud since testing positive at last year's Vuelta e Espana - said he is now looking forward to attempting to win a fifth Tour which gets underway on Saturday in Noirmoutier.
"I am very pleased that the UCI has exonerated me," he said in a Team Sky statement. "While this decision is obviously a big deal for me and the team, it's also an important moment for cycling."
The UCI announced the decision to clear Froome a day after Tour organisers barred him from taking part in this year's race.
His appeal will be heard by the French national Olympic committee in Paris today. Experts expect him to be free to race following the UCI's ruling to clear him.
"I never doubted that this case would be dismissed... I have known throughout I did nothing wrong," Froome noted. "I have suffered from asthma since childhood.
"I know exactly what the rules are regarding my asthma medication and I only ever use my puffer to manage my symptoms within the permissible limits. Of course, the UCI had to examine these test results from the Vuelta."
Froome, whose Giro d'Italia win in May made him the first man to hold all three Grand Tours at once since French legend Bernard Hinault in 1983, said he was, however, unhappy at the manner in which the test results had been leaked.
He is out to emulate five-time Tour de France winners Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain. He said that, as team leader, he would never have besmirched the sport.
"I have always taken my leadership position very seriously and I always do things the right way," he said. "I meant it when I said that I would never dishonour a winner's jersey and that my results would stand the test of time."
A win this year would make Froome the second racer after Merckx to win four straight Tours.
American Lance Armstrong finished first seven straight times, but those results were retrospectively scrubbed out because of drug use.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS