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Chris Froome: 'It's our burden' to prove cycling is clean

updated 7:40 AM EST, Wed March 5, 2014
Chris Froome learned to ride in Kenya, where he grew up, after being taught by mentor David Kinjah (center).
Chris Froome learned to ride in Kenya, where he grew up, after being taught by mentor David Kinjah (center).
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chris Froome says current generation have to prove that cycling is now a clean sport
  • Briton describes the challenge as "our burden"
  • 2013 Tour de France winner believes questions will continue for the "foreseeable future"

(CNN) -- Winning the Tour de France may be one of sport's toughest challenges but last year's winner Chris Froome believes the current generation of cyclists have an equally arduous task ahead of them.

Through an accident of timing, the Briton says today's best racers are constantly having to prove to the world that they are riding clean.

This is because they are unfortunate enough to follow an era where some of the biggest names in sport repeatedly shattered the illusions of cycling fans by failing doping tests.

Read: Tour de France to commemorate World War I

"It's a challenge for the new generation of cyclists to be able to show people that the sport really has turned around -- and that doping is not something that's done any more," he told CNN World Sport.

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"The pressure falls on us now. It's our burden but it does fall on us to tell people that the sport is no longer how it used to be."

The state of affairs is such that a virtuoso Froome display on the Mont Ventoux stage of the 2013 Tour did not receive wholehearted sporting acclaim but was forensically examined for evidence of cheating instead.

The whispering and rumors were only silenced when Froome's Team Sky allowed French newspaper L'Equipe to study data from 18 of the Briton's previous climbs.

"I'm glad I was able to take on the questions," Froome told CNN at the time, shortly after a sports science expert found the data to be consistent with doping-free riding.

"I know what I've done to get here and I've nothing to hide."

Nonetheless, some riders still do fall prey to the temptations of yesteryear -- as proven when Italy's Danilo Di Luca was banned from the sport for life in December after being found guilty of a third doping offense.

Two months ago, the president of the International Cycling Union (UCI) -- Brian Cookson -- created the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) with the intention of investigating both historic doping in cycling and allegations that the UCI had been involved in previous wrongdoing.

The world governing body came under intense pressure last year after failing to detect the behavior of American Lance Armstrong, who famously won seven Tour de France races only to reveal that he had been doping throughout in an interview in January 2013.

"We can all agree that the Armstrong affair has done immense damage to our sport," Cookson, who ousted controversial leader Pat McQuaid last September, told CNN in February.

Read: Apprentice to Master -- how Froome won the Tour

"Armstrong wants to be first through the door when the Commission is up and running, and I urge him and anyone else to participate."

With the case set to turn up the sport's unwanted past once again, the Kenyan-born Froome is realistic that the issue is one he will have to address time and again.

"It is going to be a question that is going to be asked for the foreseeable future, just because it has been such a big part of cycling and the results in cycling over the past decade," he said.

"Naturally, it's a question that we are going to have to face."

Tour of Omen?

On a personal level, the other topic that will repeatedly come his way is whether he can retain the title he won so convincingly last year.

Last month, he won the Tour of Oman -- which may prove an omen for some since Froome also won it in 2013.

However, the rider himself is just delighted that he is in good shape to scale the many mountains -- both real and metaphorical -- heading his way.

"I'm in a very similar kind of condition to what I was last year just after the winter," the 28-year-old said.

"Oman is always a really good test to see how the winter training has been and how things have gone through the winter. So to come away with the title again is fantastic, a really good way to start the season."

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