Chris Froome knows blood data will 'not convince everyone'

By Matt SlaterBBC Sport
'No evidence Froome is dirty rider'

Chris Froome says he knows releasing physiological data will "not convince everyone" who doubts he twice won the Tour de France as a clean rider.

Esquire has published three sets of data online,external-link with a full story in the next edition of the magazine on Monday.

The first set is from 2007, the second from this year's Tour and the third from August's independent tests.

"My hope is more transparency can be another small step in helping rebuild trust in the sport I love," he said.

"The deceit of the past still casts its shadow over the present," added the 30-year-old.

Britain's Froome says he hopes releasing the data will "satisfy some of the questions asked".

"I know what I've done to get here. I'm the only one who can really know 100% that I'm clean," he said.

"I haven't broken the rules. I haven't cheated. I haven't taken any secret substance that isn't known of yet.

"I know my results will stand the test of time, that 10, 15 years down the line people won't say, 'Ah, so that was his secret'. There isn't a secret."

The data from 2007 was collected by the sport's world governing body, the International Cycling Union, during the Kenya-born rider's stint at the World Cycling Centre, a programme for talented athletes from developing cycling nations.

The UCI blood data is incomplete by today's standards, as it predates the introduction of the biological passport in 2009.

Two key tests at that point - his VO2 Max and threshold power - indicate the type of rider who could win one of cycling's biggest races, provided he lost weight to improve his climbing ability.

That is also the picture painted by the tests Froome had at the GSK Human Performance Labexternal-link (GSK HPL) in London in August.

On that occasion his VO2 Max, which is the peak amount of oxygen an athlete can use, was 84.6 (ml/kg/min) - readjusted for his Tour weight, that it is 88.2, a number that supports the power data Team Sky released in July from his superb victory on stage 10 at this year's Tour.

That "data dump" was an attempt by Froome's team to defuse what was becoming a toxic atmosphere at the race.

GSK HPL's senior scientist Dr Phillip Bell described Froome's VO2 Max values as being "close to what we believe are the upper limits for humans".

As well as his independent testing results, Froome has also given Esquire biological passport blood tests from 13 July, the day before that 10th stage win, and 20 August.

The first sample shows Froome's haemoglobin level (the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen) was 15.3 grams per litre, with 0.72% of his red blood cells being immature cells known as reticulocytes (produced by bone marrow in response to the body's needs).

This produces an OFF-score, an equation used in anti-doping to indicate possible blood manipulation, of 102.1.

The second sample shows haemoglobin of 15.3, with a reticulocyte count of 0.96%, and an OFF-score of 94.21.

On their own, there is nothing about these scores that reveals anything untoward but, as British athlete Paula Radcliffe has recently discovered, they only provide a snapshot of what is happening at a particular moment and definitive proof that somebody is clean requires more data, recorded over time.

Chris Froome
Froome's critics point to the lack of success Froome had before his breakthrough at the 2011 Vuelta as evidence of something suspicious - he says he was struggling with illness and inexperience until then

That, however, is something that very few athletes have been willing or able to produce.

Froome's former Team Sky team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins told BBC Radio 5 live on Thursday his fellow Briton faced an almost impossible task in trying to convince everybody he is clean.

"I don't think [releasing his data] is going to change perceptions or what people think but at the same time that's what people have called for and he's done it," said Wiggins, who has also had to deal with speculation about his successes on the road - speculation he has dismissed.

"Hats off to him for doing it and I'm sure it's not going to be something that [he and Team Sky] are going to live and die by.

"I don't think it's going to change anything but it's a small step maybe."

Froome first announced his intention to release the results of independent physiological testing during this year's Tour.

As in 2013, his first victory, he was subjected to intense media scrutiny over the veracity of his performances, which spilled over into some deeply unpleasant scenes on the roadside.

His team-mate and close friend Richie Porte was punched by a fan during one stage, Team Sky's cars were frequently pelted with drinks and rubbish by spectators and Froome himself was spat at and had urine thrown at him on one particularly ugly day.

Froome told Esquire the accusations of doping did bother him - "it's hard not to get angry" - but denied they detracted from his joy at becoming the first British rider to win a second Tour title.

"Nothing is going to taint that for me," he said.

"All that stuff, it was an added challenge and did make it harder, but in a way it feels like an even greater achievement."

Given what is known now about the sport's recent history of endemic doping, Froome added he understands why many cycling fans are so sceptical and accepts "questions do need to be asked".

"As long as the questions are fair, I'm happy to answer them," he said.

The results of his testing at GSK HPL are expected to be published in an unspecified scientific journal at a later date, and Froome is also believed to be open to the idea of further testing in the future.

Esquire and picture of Chris Froome
The full story of Chris Froome's independent testing will be in the January/February edition of Esquire, which goes on sale on Monday

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