Chris Froome: Tour de France leader expects doubts to remain

Chris Froome and Sir Dave Brailsford talk to journalists on the Tour de France rest day
Tour de France leader Froome again denied doping in front of the press on Tuesday's rest day

Tour de France leader Chris Froome believes he will never be able to completely silence the questions over whether he is drugs-free.

The 30-year-old Briton's impressive climb to victory on stage 10 of this year's race has been described as "abnormal" by a French physiologist.

Team Sky released data on Tuesday to prove his innocence.

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Team Sky urge care with Froome data

"I'd imagine it's going to be never-ending," said Froome after keeping hold of the yellow jersey on stage 17.

Tuesday's rest day was dominated by conjecture about Froome's performances, after physiologist Pierre Sallet produced his own data on television channel France 2, who displayed pictures of shamed drugs cheat Lance Armstrong alongside Froome's climb at La Pierre-Saint-Martin.

Sallet has insisted the data he has on Froome is accurate, despite Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford saying it was "wildly wrong" and Sky's head of performance Tim Kerrison presenting a set of numbers that he says prove the claims are incorrect.

"I was quite sure when we released the file yesterday it wouldn't be enough. The data will never be enough," Froome said.

"There are a lot of people out there who have already made up their minds and no matter what information we release or make public that's not going to change their opinions."

Competitive advantage

David Walsh - Sunday Times chief sports writer
"I've also spent a lot of time looking at the people around Chris Froome, looking at what's going on in Team Sky. We're now three years into the Froome story. At the three-year point into my investigation into Lance Armstrong I had six people in his team who told me he doped.
"I haven't had one person, who works with Sky now or who was sacked by Sky, who has given me anything to go on or investigate. In fairness to Chris Froome my conclusion has to be that I've seen nothing that indicates he dopes and I'm inclined to believe him when he says he doesn't. It doesn't mean I know, but I certainly believe his claims."
Walsh, who was a key journalist in uncovering Lance Armstrong's doping regime, was speaking on News Channel's Victoria Derbyshire programme.

Kenya-born Froome believes he could only truly prove he is not doping by releasing all of the data related to his training and physiology, but says that would aid rival teams.

"For Team Sky that's our competitive advantage. That intellectual property would mean giving away our training programmes," he said.

"Guys like Tim Kerrison have spent years developing these programmes.

"It's crazy for us just to give it away. The team has made it perfectly clear that they're happy to surrender all the power data, everything, to the right independent bodies.

"If WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency], for example, or the [cycling governing body] UCI wanted to collect that information, the team would be very happy to give it to them on the basis that all other teams did the same."

Not a Froome witch-hunt

Speaking before Wednesday's stage 17, in which Froome maintained his three minutes, 10 seconds lead over Nairo Quintana, Sallet said he wanted more information.

Sallet said: "I'd be happy if he is unique but we need more information."

The head of Athletes for Transparency, a not for profit anti-doping agency, told BBC Radio 5 live: "I don't say Froome is a doping athlete. If we have more detail, we can easily say it is a unique profile or doping,

"It could be a unique profile, classical doping - using haematological drugs, like EPO - or mechanical doping which is using a motor in your bike. People need to know."

And Sallet pointed out that he was only focusing on Froome because he is in the yellow jersey.

"If the yellow jersey was a French athlete, we would put in the same energy," he said. "It's not against Froome. We want to understand."

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