Harty on . . . Chris Froome and The Ashes

HAVING had the privilege of writing this column for more than a decade now, I know the pitfalls of the uncertainty of sport. I also know that putting something in print, with ensuing events, could come back to bite you.

Friday, 24th July 2015, 7:00 am
First for sport

I begin with my first item and I’m supremely confident that the statement I make today will never falter or be open to question.

British cyclist Chris Froome is not a drug cheat. He does not take or has ever taken performance enhancing substances in order to gain an unfair advantage in competitions.

Unfortunately, for all the good people involved in the sport of cycling around the globe, going back over a century, the sport is sadly blighted by the likes of Lance Armstrong and others.

Froome, supported by Team Sky, is very good at what he does. He’s at the very top of his sport, it’s all been done fairly and a number of people need to acknowledge that fact.

Some people connected with cycling are so paranoid about what’s gone on previously, they cannot comprehend that someone can actually be that good without cheating. They appear to gauge everything on Armstrong and the other cheats.

If Froome does, as many people think, go on to win this year’s Tour De France, his deserved victory will sadly be overshadowed by these quite scandalous and unsubstantiated allegations against him.

He was booed by French spectators during a stage of the race earlier this week. It was a sad indictment of one of the most ill-judged apparent witchhunts I’ve ever witnessed in sport.

I know I’m perceived to be extremely opinionated but, in this one, I know I’m right. Froome is no cheat, end of story.

At the time of going to press, I’ve still to receive my letter from the ECB asking me to stay away from all future Test Matches. But, on Sunday, I’m sure I joined an exclusive group of cricket fans who have seen England capitulate in three different continents.

After victory at Cardiff, it was all going so well. I was lucky enough to end up with Lord’s tickets on both the Friday and the Sunday of the second Test, courtesy of Heineken UK and Mr David Dumigan respectively.

Then Aussie skipper Michael Clarke called heads at 10.30am on Thursday and the rest is history.

At first, I didn’t know which was the worst of the respective collapses, Adelaide, Perth, Bridgetown or Lord’s?

They were all equally depressive but thankfully softened by the company I was in at the time and the wonderful hospitality received in all three countries, yes, even England!

But, if push comes to shove, I would have to plump for Sunday. The other three were part of two unforgettable holidays, at least it was 44 and a half degrees in Perth, but the England collapse on Sunday was nothing short of shambolic.

The Aussies now well and truly have their tails up, none more so than a number of friends and acquaintances I have over the other side of the world, including a certain Tony Peccia, of Perth, who is now predicting a 4-1 Aussie series victory (but is stopping short of betting on it).

Time will tell, Tony.

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