Chris Froome recently competed in the Ruta del Sol, his first race since his adverse drugs test was made public. Now I don’t go on cycling-specific news sites so it may be different there but the mainstream news certainly seemed to less on how Froome’s race was going and more on if he should be racing at all!
The UCI and Team Sky have not suspended Froome while he attempts to prove his innocent and Froome has chosen not to step down while his case goes on and judging by his interviews intends to race in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France if everything is not settled by that point. But should he carry on as normal or take a step back?
Even his fellow racers have seemed split on the question, with Tony Martin – who has spoken out against Froome a couple of times since news of the drugs test broke – critical of Froome taking part in the race, while last season’s teammate (and now General Classification rival with Movistar) Mikel Landa saying Froome was welcome.
It is a difficult to decide if Froome should have taken a step back while the case was going on and it will probably not be until the case is closed that we really know if it was the right choice. If Froome is found guilty then voluntarily stepping back would have allowed him to return to racing quicker, whereas now he would have to wait longer to come back and likely be stripped of any title he wins in the interim. However if Froome had stepped back from racing and proved himself innocent then he has effectively been stopped from racing for something that he didn’t do. If the case drags on much longer then stepping down could stop him from trying to become only the third rider (behind Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault) to be champion in all 3 Grand Tours at the same time. That would be a big loss for someone proved innocent.
Right now, I still believe Froome’s assertions that he has done nothing wrong so I have no problem with him continuing to race. I just continue to hope that I’m not proved wrong…