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Froome hopes new probe will close doping era

March 4, 2014

GENEVA (AP) — Tour de France champion Chris Froome wants an investigation into cycling’s doping history to finally close an era dominated by Lance Armstrong.

Almost 18 months after Armstrong’s seven Tour wins were wiped from the record, an independent panel created by the new International Cycling Union leadership has begun work to discover the extent of the sport’s past problems.

“I hope that anyone who does have anything to contribute would get involved.” Froome told The Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday.

The three-man Cycling Independent Reform Commission aims to investigate how doping happened from 1998-2013 and possible UCI complicity in helping Armstrong and his teams avoid scrutiny.

“I am hoping that at the end of the day people will be able to say of it, ‘Right, that was that era, we can now put that to bed and stop asking questions about it,’” Froome said.

Armstrong and former UCI presidents Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid will be invited for confidential, closed-door interviews with the panel which is based at Lausanne, Switzerland.

None of the trio has committed publicly to meeting with the panel, which is chaired by Swiss politician and prosecutor Dick Marty.

Froome said the panel could engage “not just necessarily those three, but anyone really who is part of that era and can contribute to resolving it.”

“It’s going to be more negative publicity for the sport. That’s never good,” Froome acknowledged.

The Team Sky leader, who made a winning return to racing last month at the Tour of Oman, said he had not heard much talk about the commission among current riders, who must help restore the sport’s credibility.

“There’s a lot of really, really talented young riders coming through the system now that I believe in personally.” Froome said. “These are going to be the guys carrying the torch going forward.”

Froome will be 29 when he is scheduled to start defending his Tour title on July 5 in northern England — probably with 2012 winner Bradley Wiggins alongside him.

“I’m confident whoever is in there, we are going to have the strongest team possible,” said Froome, whose frayed relationship with Wiggins was mended in the offseason. “He can do a lot of damage to the peloton. He’s one of the best climbers in the world and we know his time trialing ability.”

Froome expects to follow the path both he and Wiggins followed to Tour success, competing in — and winning — stage-race preparations at the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland and Criterium de Dauphine in France.

“I think it would be crazy to really change things up too much,” Froome said. “We found it has been a good system that has worked quite well for us.”

Speaking at the Geneva Motor Show, on the sidelines of a Team Sky sponsor’s event, Froome said extra work being a Tour champion was “a bit of a juggling act” with his training program.

Still, the Oman victory suggests he got the balance right.

“It just backs up that I have had a really good winter preparation,” Froome said. “I’m where I need to be for the season coming up.”

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