NAIROBI, Nov 19, 2013 (AFP) – Tour de France champion Chris Froome has
welcomed the introduction of tougher penalties for doping, and admitted that
he had been personally “hit hard” by accusations he had cheated.
Speaking at the end of a private visit to Kenya, the country of his birth
and where he first fell in love with the sport, Froome said cycling was now a
much cleaner sport than it was during the notorious Lance Armstrong era.
“It is great that WADA plans to extend the ban from two to four years, and
that cycling is being taken as leading the way in the fight in anti-doping,”
he told reporters.
Last week a the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) conference concluded with
the adoption of a tougher code featuring longer bans for those who
intentionally use performance-enhancing drugs.
“When first-time offenders are given a four-year ban, that’s quite serious
for a sport when the window is very short. You can only be a professional for
15 years. It is a harsh penalty and that’s what we need to see in cycling,”
Froome said the fall-out from the Armstrong era, when doping in the peloton
was rife, meant that cycling was now probably “the cleanest endurance sport
there is” because of the sheer amount of out-of-competition tests being
He admitted he had been “hit hard” when faced with accusations that he was
doping, even though he understood such questions were inevitable.
“It was a very difficult time in the Tour De France. Everybody was asking
me… and people were saying to me you could be doping,” he recounted. “It
definitely added stress during the tour.”
“That hit me quite hard, but it was something I expected, because
post-Lance Armstrong everyone was asking questions about it and I came to
accept it, because I knew it came from the past and everyone putting on the
yellow jersey could be asked about doping.”