June 24, 2015

PARIS (AP) Former Tour de France champion Chris Froome revealed on Wednesday he missed a drug test this year while taking a couple of days off in Italy with his wife.

Froome said he missed the test while staying at an exclusive hotel during a recovery period.

''Yes, I have missed a drug test,'' he said in a phone interview. ''The first morning we were down there, the authorities showed up at seven o'clock in the morning and the hotel wouldn't give them access to our room. They also refused to let them call up to the room.''

Froome said he found out about the anti-doping controllers at his hotel later that morning, when he went down for breakfast.

''They said to us, `Oh, anti-doping guys were here to test you this morning, but it's our policy not to let anyone disturb our clients,''' he recalled.

Froome pleaded he acted in good faith, but admitted he should have let the hotel staff know there was a possibility that he could be tested. Riders need to provide their whereabouts at all times to allow out-of-competition tests.

''That was a hugely frustrating situation for me,'' the Briton said. ''I did appeal it, and try and explain the circumstances to the authorities, but at the end of the day I do take responsibility for that case.''

Froome did not specify who requested the test, and whether he had been cleared of wrongdoing. The UCI did not comment on the case and UK anti-doping agency officials declined to confirm whether they requested the test.

The 2013 Tour champion has never failed a doping test, and last year criticized the lack of out-of-competition tests before cycling's biggest race.

He's among the four main Tour contenders this year, alongside Alberto Contador, defending champion Vincenzo Nibali, and Colombian climber Nairo Quintana.

The news about Froome came less than a week after British athlete Mo Farah confirmed he missed two tests in 2010 and 2011 in the buildup to the 2012 London Olympics, where he won the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

''I've stayed in hotels all over the world and I've been tested in hotels all over the world without any issues at all,'' said Froome, a staunch advocate of strict drug testing. "Unfortunately, I just didn't see this one coming. But it's opened my eyes, and I'm definitely going to be more proactive in the future. It's always the athlete's responsibility to make sure he or she is available for testing.''

Last year, Froome complained to the UCI that he had not been tested for drugs at a Tour de France training camp in Tenerife. He also claimed at the time, that neither Contador nor Nibali were tested during their preparations on the Spanish island.

Froome said that situation ''has been rectified,'' as he and his Team Sky teammates were tested at least four times when they returned to Tenerife this year for another pre-Tour training camp.

''Something was not right, especially in a key preparation moment before the Tour de France when we'd be up in Tenerife and there was no testing,'' he said. ''I'm happy to be a spokesperson for the sport, to show that you cannot only ride clean in this day and age but you can win the biggest races clean. For me, it was important just to point that out to the authorities.''

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