Romain Bardet has said that Chris Froome should voluntarily withdraw from racing pending the resolution of his failed anti-doping control for the anti-asthma drug salbutamol.
Four-time Tour de France champion Froome was found to have twice the permitted level of the drug in his urine when tested last September during the Vuelta, a race that he won, and has said he will try and provide an explanation to the UCI in a bid to clear his name.
The Team Sky rider, who suffers from asthma and uses an inhaler, permitted under World Anti-Doping Agency rules, plans to ride May's Giro d'Italia to try and seal a rare hat-trick of successive Grand Tour victories.
But with the case likely to drag on for several months, there are fears that there could be a repeat of the situation that happened in 2011 when Alberto Contador won the Italian race only to be stripped of the title when the Court of Arbitration for Sport banned him as a result of his positive test for clenbuterol in the previous year's Tour de France.
AG2R-La Mondiale rider Batrdet, third in last year's Tour de France and runner-up to Froome in 2016, told French sports newspaper L'Equipe, “I can’t really see how Froome can race as if nothing was going on," reports Reuters.
“Since Team Sky are doing nothing, nothing prevents their rider from taking a step back until there is a decision from the authorities,” the 27-year-old continued.
“Will the UCI have the means to shed light on this case? Will experts manage to prove that it is possible to have such high natural levels (of Salbutamol)?
“I have a hard time imagining that a rider with such a high dose of Salbutamol can be cleared," he said.
"Otherwise, why set a limit?”
Bardet also called for the case to be resolved prior to the Tour de France starting in July.
“Otherwise," he warned, "it would be catastrophic for the image of the race and the image of cycling.
"It would be a farce,” he added.
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.