Chris Froome: Team Sky 'confident' Briton will compete in Tour de France

Chris Froome celebrates winning the 2017 Tour de France
Froome is a four-time winner of the Tour de France

Team Sky are "confident" Chris Froome will compete in this month's Tour de France, despite reports he is being blocked by the race organisers.

The Briton is under investigation by governing body the UCI after double the allowed level of legal asthma drug Salbutamol was found in his urine during his 2017 Vuelta a Espana win.

Under UCI rules, the four-time Tour de France champion, 33, can continue racing, and he won May's Giro d'Italia.

He expects to win the anti-doping case.

UCI president David Lappartient said: "I have always said we would make known the general position of the UCI before the Tour and that will be the case.

"It begins next Saturday so we shall explain our position during the coming week."

French newspaper Le Monde reports race organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) does not want Froome to take part in the Tour while his case is pending.

Le Monde says ASO has a rule, in accordance with the regulations of the UCI, that "reserves the right to refuse participation in - or to exclude from - the event, a team or any of its members whose presence would be such as to damage the image or reputation of ASO or the event".

Team Sky have appealed to the French Olympic Committee, and that will be heard on Tuesday, with a decision to be announced the following day.

A statement from the British-based team said: "We are confident that Chris will be riding the Tour as we know he has done nothing wrong."

Froome's wife and representative Michelle told Reuters: "Chris will ride the Tour."

His victory at the Giro - after earlier wins in the Vuelta and Tour - meant he became only the seventh man to win three successive Grand Tours.

Should he win this year's Tour, he will become just the second rider, after Belgian Eddy Merckx, to win four Grand Tours on the trot.

He would also join Merckx, Spain's Miguel Indurain and Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault as a record five-time winner of the three-week race.

Hinault, the last Frenchman to win the race, in 1985, has called for riders to strike during this year's race in protest against Froome, but Team Sky said his comments were "irresponsible and ill-informed".

In 2011, Spaniard Alberto Contador took part in the Tour, despite an anti-doping case hanging over him after he tested positive for clenbuterol during the 2010 race, which he won.

He was later banned for two years for doping and stripped of his 2010 Tour win.

The adverse test result

Froome was notified of the "adverse analytical finding" on 20 September 2017.

The urine test, taken on 7 September, showed levels of Salbutamol, which is commonly taken for asthma, were at 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml).

That compares to the World Anti-Doping Agency's threshold of 1,000 ng/ml.

The use of Salbutamol is permitted, without the need of a therapeutic use exemption (TUE), but only within certain doses.

No other samples taken from Froome during the race needed further examination.

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