PR war over Chris Froome doping allegations boils over during Tour de France 2015

Team Sky has responded to accusations that its star rider Chris Froome has been using performance-enhancing drugs with the unprecedented PR move of releasing confidential rider data.

Allegations: Froome, in yellow, says he has been trying to be as open as possible
Allegations: Froome, in yellow, says he has been trying to be as open as possible

Team Sky took this radical action following allegations of doping and other incidents over the past week, including Froome having urine thrown over him by a spectator, and one of his teammates being punched while riding.

Sky was further irked on Sunday when French host broadcaster France 2 called in physiologist Pierre Sallet to evaluate Froome's performance. Sallet was shown saying that Froome's power output was "abnormally high" and pictures of former disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong were also used.

This prompted Tim Kerrison, Team Sky’s head of athletic performance, to talk journalists through normally confidential data including power output, cadence and heart rate for Froome in a previous stage.

Kerrison told a press conference: "With great power comes great responsibility. If you have the power to influence what millions of people are thinking about a situation, you have the responsibility to make sure that your facts are accurate."

Nonetheless Sallet, who is head of anti-doping group Athletes for Transparency, responded by telling Team Sky to release even more data, telling 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."

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Froome said: "I feel as a team and myself personally we [are] definitely trying to be as open and transparent as possible. I think we’ve been asked more questions than any other team has been asked."

Team Sky has also confirmed it has shared one billion data points with the UK Anti-Doping Agency to disprove the allegations against Froome.

PRWeek contacted Team Sky’s head of PR for comment but it had yet to respond at the time of publishing.

Froome is not the only high-profile British sportsman being asked questions about doping of late – Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Mo Farah is understood to have turned to PR firm Freuds after news broke that he missed two drugs tests before the London 2012 Olympics. Farah's coach Alberto Salazar also featured prominently in a recent BBC documentary about doping, although this made no direct accusations about Farah.

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