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Chris Froome says he’s in favour of 24-hour drug testing

Team Sky rider also insists he’s only ever had two TUEs in his career as Nicole Cooke criticises rules

Chris Froome has said that he backs 24-hour drug testing of cyclists, something the UCI said it would explore today in its response to the recommendations of the report published on Monday by the Cycling Independent Reform Commission.

The Team Sky rider, winner of the Tour de France in 2013, is the only professional cyclist currently riding who is listed as having been interviewed by the CIRC, although others may have done so but requested anonymity.

He has also said that he has only ever had two Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) in his career, his assertion coming in a week when retired rider former world and Olympic champion Nicole Cooke had mentioned Froome specifically when criticising their use.

Among the recommendations of the CIRC report was that riders should be targeted for testing between the hours of 11pm and 6am amid concerns that some are micro-dosing with EPO.

Currently, under the World Anti-Doping Code’s whereabouts rules, athletes are not required to make themselves available for testing between those hours.

In what turned into an impromptu post-training ride Q&A session on Twitter on Wednesday, Froome said: “I for one welcome 24hr testing. It may be an inconvenience but if it can help clean up the sport that I love let’s do it.”

Following publication of the report, Cooke, who was also interviewed by the CIRC, criticised the current regime of rules surrounding TUEs, which allow riders to use medicines containing substances which would otherwise be banned as long as their use is authorised by a suitable medical professional.

The report expressed concerns that the system is being abused, and Cooke highlighted Froome’s presence at last year’s Tour de Romandie, when he took corticosteroids under a TUE to help him deal with chest pains, as an issue of concern.

Writing in the Guardian, Cooke insisted that Brian Cookson had failed the other cyclists competing in the race, which Froome won for the second year running, and that the UCI president should apologise to them.

“I don’t think it is at all right that Chris should have the race and prize money taken off him retrospectively, but Cookson needs to issue a very clear message: he should be apologising to the rest of the riders for failing them,” Cooke insisted.

“That TUE application should not have been approved; Froome and Sky should have had a clear choice of either riding without steroids or pulling out.

“I never found I could be anywhere near the front of a long race when I was ill.”

On Wednesday, in response to a Twitter user who asked him: “Are you willing to release details of all your TUEs for the last few years?” Froome replied: “I have had 2 during my career.”

In its response to the CIRC report today, the UCI said it would “Encourage the CADF [Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation] to order night-time testing where they believe it is necessary and proportionate.”

Cookson, outlining the steps he has taken on tackling doping related issues since becoming the governing body’s president in September 2013 also said: “We have reinvigorated our Therapeutic Use Exemption Committee and now all TUE decisions must be unanimously approved by three members. This commitment goes beyond what is required by the International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ISTUE).”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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