LONDON (AFP) – Tour de France champion Chris Froome says he would be in favour of permanent bans for cyclists found guilty of using drugs.
The 28-year-old Englishman faced repeated questions about doping during his Tour triumph, amid a climate of suspicion following the downfall of disgraced drugs cheat Lance Armstrong earlier this year.
The Team Sky rider believes the sport has moved on from past scandals, but he says he would feel even more confident if those found to have deliberately cheated were banned from cycling for life.
"I definitely think there need to be harsher penalties for people who break the rules," he told national newspaper the Mail on Sunday.
"I'm not so sure they should be allowed back into the sport at all.
"Maybe I'd implement lifetime bans for people who did blood bags or (banned blood booster) EPO -- or something that you know is 100 per cent cheating.
"I think in this day and age, if there are new cases, I would like to see those guys out of the sport."
He added: "I know it's (the Tour) a race that you can believe in and certainly a race that can be won clean.
"I've got faith in the testing procedures. We've had a few positives this year already and that goes to show those guys aren't getting away with it anymore."
The Kenyan-born cyclist also insisted he would be happy to ride in support of his team-mate Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour in 2012 with Froome as a support man but pulled out of this year's race through injury.
"It's a good thing for the team, a privileged position for the team, having two Tour winners and having the possibility of being able to play those different cards," Froome said.
"At the end of the day, people will need to remember, whatever race we go to, we will go there with a clear plan and, as professionals, we will stick to that plan regardless of if we're mates or not.
"I'd love to be given the opportunity again to try to go for it and I think that would depend very much on how the route is and who it suits.
"It's only right that if it's a flat time-trial every second day, it suits Bradley and we ride for him, 100 per cent."