EMBRUN, France (VN) — The Association of Professional Cyclists voiced its support for Tour de France overall leader Chris Froome on Wednesday, condemning “unjustified” allegations of doping.
Froome has been dogged by questions regarding performance-enhancing drugs at this year’s Tour de France, as his dominant performance has set off alarm bells in a scandal-weary press corps and fanbase.
“It’s not fair to blame someone without evidence against him,” said Gianni Bugno, president of the CPA, in a press release. “And we demand more respect for Chris and for all the riders … We are witnessing a daily attack against the dignity of the riders in a manner that can no longer be tolerated.”
At a press conference on the Tour’s second rest day, on Monday, Froome was asked several questions pertaining to PEDs, and he finally grew weary.
“I just think it’s quite sad that we’re sitting here the day after the biggest victory of my life, talking about doping,” Froome said. “And here I am, sitting here being accused of being a cheat and a liar. That’s just not cool.”
A contributing factor to the skepticism surrounding current riders was the report released by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency regarding the sophisticated doping program of Lance Armstong, and the subsequent confessions of stars like Jan Ullrich and Laurent Jalabert. While many of the riders coming forward with confessions over past PED use competed before much of today’s peloton turned pro, that USADA report presented evidence that Armstrong had used banned products and methods during his 2009 comeback.
The CPA condemned what it called the “fury” of a media that, “over the years has ofted led to the association [of] cycling = doping,” the release read.
“Unlike all the other disciplines, only in cycling [is it] quite normal to investigate and tarnish the image of athletes of the present and of the past,” the release continued. “Now we come to the paradox, with Froome, to publicly condemn an athlete without having any evidence against him. The CPA asks, for all these reasons, more attention and respect for all the riders, including the yellow jersey Chris Froome.”