Speaking in Monaco before this year’s Tour in which he will lead Team Sky as one of the favourites to win the race, Froome blamed overzealous hotel staff, rather than an inaudible doorbell similar to that owned by the distance runner Mo Farah, for his missed drug test.
“I had a couple of recovery days and I took my wife down to quite an exclusive hotel in Italy,” said Froome, who was forced to abandon last year’s Tour through injury after two crashes on stage five. “On the first morning the authorities pitched up at seven and the hotel staff actually wouldn’t give them access to our room and also refused to let them call up.
“So when we came down for breakfast at 8.30, they basically just said to us: ‘OK, the anti-doping guys were here to test you this morning but it’s our hotel policy not to let them disturb our clients or let anyone disturb our clients’. So that was a hugely frustrating situation for me.”
Under the whereabouts system, designed to support out-of-competition testing, cyclists are obliged to inform officials where they will be for a specific hour between 5am and 11pm when they are obliged to be available for testing.
Most nominate a time early in the morning, as it is when they are most certain of their likely whereabouts: at home in bed. While Froome had logged his temporary holiday address on the whereabouts website, he neglected to let hotel staff know he may have callers who should be granted immediate access to his room.
“I did appeal to try and explain the circumstances to the authorities but at the end of the day I take full responsibility for that case,” said Froome, who has previously claimed to have been tested more than 30 times in one three-week period.
“I should have been more proactive in letting the hotel know this was a possibility that I could be tested. I’ve certainly learned my lesson there. I’ve stayed in hotels all over the world and I’ve been tested all over the world without any issues at all. Unfortunately I just didn’t see this one coming but it’s opened my eyes and I’m definitely going to be more pro-active in the future. It’s always the athlete’s responsibility to make sure he or she is available for testing.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency operates a three-strike policy that means anyone who misses three tests in a 12-month period is deemed to have committed an anti-doping rule violation and incurs an automatic ban of up to two years.
Despite the recent blot on his copybook, Froome is pleased with what he sees as a more rigorous approach to drug testing in cycling.
Last year he observed that neither he, nor his high-profile Tour de France rivals Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador, had been asked to undergo drug controls during lengthy spells of altitude training in Tenerife.
“As far as I can see that has been rectified,” he said. “This year, up in Tenerife alone, I think we were tested at least three or four times during the period when we were up there. So yes, I think the authorities have acted on that.”
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