British Cycling boss: Chris Froome can still be picked for GB

Chris Froome says he has not broken any rules, despite the adverse result. JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images

Chris Froome is "available for selection" for Great Britain despite being in a fight to avoid a doping ban, British Cycling chief executive Julie Harrington has reaffirmed.

It was revealed last month that the four-time Tour de France champion had returned a urine sample at the Vuelta a Espana in September containing twice the allowed concentration of asthma drug salbutamol.

Speaking at British Cycling's Manchester base, Harrington said: "In terms of the detail, Chris Froome isn't banned and he is available for selection.

"There is an option for an athlete to rule themselves out of being available for selection and Chris hasn't chosen to do that so, under the rules of racing, he is available and it's innocent until proven guilty."

Froome's test was leaked in December and Harrington explained these cases are usually dealt with in private and many are resolved without sanction.

The 32-year-old Team Sky star, who was notified of the finding on Sept. 20 and maintains he did not exceed the permitted dosage, must now explain to the International Cycling Union (UCI) how this adverse analytical finding happened. If he fails to prove his innocence, he faces the possibility of a ban and his Vuelta title being stripped.

Under the sport's rules, Froome can continue to compete -- and this is his intention -- but any suspension would start from the moment the ruling is made, as opposed to being backdated if he chose to withdraw from racing.

When asked how long she thought the process -- which will involve Froome trying to replicate his physical condition on the day of the test and repeat the same finding for salbutamol -- would take, Harrington said "it could take some months of laboratory work".

Harrington said British Cycling had a "duty of care" to any rider in this situation and had offered its support, although it must always be mindful of its responsibilities as a regulator and its commitment to clean sport.

She said she would have preferred it if the story had not leaked and added it was unfortunate that Froome's reputation is now being debated "in the court of public opinion", particularly on social media, without "the full evidence".

"It's been a blow to the whole of cycling and the athlete himself, and clearly the coverage before Christmas wasn't pleasant for all concerned," she said.