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.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.