Tour de France champion Chris Froome says he supports athlete Mo Farah’s decision to release his blood values in an attempt to prove he is not using performance enhancing drugs. But the Team Sky rider insists athletics must follow cycling’s lead in investing more money to catch drug cheats.
Farah, winner of the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the London 2012 Olympic Games has been under fire since the BBC documentary Panorama alleged in June that his coach, Alberto Salazar, had helped athletes dope.
While the BBC said that there was no evidence that Farah had cheated, it did point the finger at his training partner, the American middle-distance runner Galen Rupp, who took silver behind him in the 10,000 metres in London. Both Rupp and Salazar deny the allegations.
Earlier this month, German broadcaster ARD and The Sunday Times published the results of a joint investigation which they said revealed the "extraordinary extent of cheating" by athletes at World Championships and Olympic Games between 2001 and 2012.
The claims were based on leaked files held by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which says they were obtained “without consent,” but this week provisionally suspended 28 athletes – many now retired – after retesting blood samples.
Anti-doping expert Michael Ashenden, who devised the UCI’s biological passport programme, said the data showed that athletics was in an identical position to cycling during the years that Lance Armstrong dominated the Tour de France.
He added that the IAAF was guilty of "a shameful betrayal” of its “primary duty to police their sport and to protect clean athletes.”
Froome, who was subject to doping allegations through the French media when winning the Tour de France for the second time last month leading Team Sky to publish his performance data, told BBC Sport’s Dan Roan: "From what I understand, the testing [in athletics] hasn't been at the level that it is in cycling.”
According to the BBC, the UCI spends almost £6 million on anti-doping testing annually – much of that funded by teams under the terms of their licences – while the IAAF spends £1.3 million.
"It is going to have to invest a lot more heavily in anti-doping," said Froome. "That would be a step in the right direction.
"I believe some things have changed quite substantially [for cycling] since the dark ages of 10 to 15 years ago when the sport was really dirty," he continued.
"The testing has really evolved and the UCI has now implemented 24-hour testing. I have every confidence that the system now really works."
Farah this week released his blood value data to The Sunday Times in an attempt to show he is not cheating, with Froome drawing on his own experience to explain why he believes the double Olympic champion felt compelled to do so.
He said: "You turn yourself inside out on training camps trying to get yourself ready for the Tour de France and you do an amazing ride – and all of a sudden it's seen with a lot of negativity and doubt.
"You think: 'Hold on a minute, are we all just wasting our time here? If a good performance is just going to get ripped apart, what are we doing?’
"That's what sport is all about, that's why you strive to be the best athlete you can be.
"If you're just going to pull these people down, then there's no point."
Froome said he was prepared to reveal more data of his own.
"It's something I wanted to do from the start of the season, even before all this came up during the Tour," he explained.
He also said he possibly undergo a VO2 Max test, although he qualified that by saying that he "would not be rushing into it."
He added: "The physiological testing could even help me understand what makes me who I am and what it is about me that allows me to make the efforts I do.
"I do want to be a spokesman for clean cycling. I believe somebody has to stand up for the current generation.
"I'm happy to do that. I'm happy to release more information when I can and to show people they can trust these performances."
According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), in 2014 some 25,830 samples from track and field athletes were analysed, resulting in 261 adverse analytical findings (AAFs).
The respective figures for cycling were 22,471 and 221 – meaning that 1 per cent of samples in both sports result in an AAF.
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.