Tour de France champion Chris Froome says the UCI’s decision, announced yesterday, that disciplinary proceedings should be opened against Jonathan Tiernan-Locke due to discrepancies in his biological passport data will “inevitably” taint his own achievements as well as Team Sky. But Tiernan-Locke’s former manager at Endura Racing, Brian Smith, insists the Devon-born rider is not a cheat.
Froome, who was himself subject to insinuations of doping from some quarters while winning the Tour de France in July, told the BBC that the case being opened against his team-mate will harm his own image and that of their team.
"Definitely. Inevitably that's the reality of it,” he said. “It's hugely unfortunate for the team this is now happening."
UCI president Brian Cookson has ordered an independent inquiry into the sport’s culture of doping. While Froome agreed that it was an issue that needs to be addressed, he expressed the hope that it could move on.
"I really do think the best thing to do with the whole doping culture of the sport, to move past that image that we've had in the past, is to talk about it," he said.
"Be completely open and say: 'Listen, this was is what happened in the sport back then but it's definitely not happening any more, and these are the reasons.'
"It needs to be talked about and we need to move on from that.
"But there is going to be a point when enough is enough, and we need to get on and start talking about the good things in the sport and the great racing that's getting missed now because we're harping on about what happened 10 years ago."
When concerns over Tiernan-Locke’s biological passport data were first made public in September, Team Sky insisted that the values in question related to late 2012, before he joined the WorldTour outfit for the 2013 season.
But Endura, the clothing brand that owned and sponsored the 28-year-old’s former team with which he won the 2012 Tour of Britain, said he spent much of that year training with Sky ahead of his move.
Former British national champion Smith, who managed the team, told the BBC: "I'm 100% behind him. He's not a doper. Endura racing had a no-doping stance and as far as I'm concerned he was true to his word.
"Throughout the Tour of Britain he was urine-tested every day and a blood booster would have shown up, so it doesn't make sense."
The BBC added that Tiernan-Locke’s manager, Andrew McQuaid – son of former UCI president, Pat McQuaid – had declined to comment, saying only that he was concentrating on the rider’s defence.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.