ORANGE, France (Reuters) - Facing yet another barrage of doping questions after Chris Froome’s awe-inspiring victory up Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France, Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford said he was ready to give the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) all their team training data.
This year’s race has been under extra scrutiny as it is the first Tour being staged since Lance Armstrong admitted that he had cheated his way to seven Tour titles from 1999 to 2005.
Although the American was stripped of all seven titles, the sport is still trying to salvage its image.
With athletics also under a cloud following the positive dope tests of former 100 meters record holder Asafa Powell and 2007 world 100 meters champion Tyson Gay at the weekend, Brailsford was adamant that Froome and other riders in his team were clean and said their achievements should not be undermined.
“Given what’s happened with Armstrong, given what’s happened with athletics I think just replying with the old way of thinking is not going to give us solutions,” Brailsford told a packed news conference at his team hotel on Monday’s rest day.
On Sunday, Froome accelerated brutally to leave rival Alberto Contador of Spain stuck on the tar on his way to victory in the 15th stage, triggering a collective gasp in the press room.
The Briton now leads second-placed Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands by four minutes 14 seconds and Contador by 4:25.
“You’re asking me how I can prove to you that we’re not doping basically,” Brailsford said.
“You’re all asking the same question obviously and we rack our brains every day, we see each other in the morning in front of the bus, at night after the stage and every day we get asked the same question.
“I think we’d encourage maybe WADA to appoint an expert and they can have everything that we’ve got, have a look at everything that we’ve got,” said Brailsford.
“They could see all of our data, they could have access to every single training file, compare the training files to the blood data, to weight, all that type of information.
“It seems to me WADA would be a good body. Then they would tell the world whether they think this is credible or not. That would be my best answer.”
Froome, who has to face the media every day on the Tour, has expressed his frustration at being repeatedly questioned about doping in the sport.
“I just think it’s quite sad that we’re sitting here the day after the biggest victory of my life yesterday, quite a historic win, talking about doping,” he said.
“Quite frankly, my team mates and I, we’ve slept on volcanoes to get ready for this, we’ve been away from home for months, training together, just working our arses off to get here and here I am basically being accused of being a cheat and a liar. That’s not cool.”
His fierce rival Contador joined the debate later on Monday, saying he was certain that Froome was a clean rider.
“He is a professional who has a high level all year around and it is because he has been working hard,” the Spaniard told a news conference.
Editing by Clare Fallon