Nick Matthew column: It is disgraceful the way Froome has been hounded

Britain's Chris Froome celebrates with his wife Michelle after winning the Tour de France.
Britain's Chris Froome celebrates with his wife Michelle after winning the Tour de France.

I’ve got a lot of time and admiration for Chris Froome.

He probably is not as universally loved as Sir Bradley Wiggins, who oozes personality and is a cheeky, chappy character.

But in winning a second Tour de France title last weekend, Froome kept his dignity despite his performances during the 2015 event being constantly questioned on French TV.

Throughout the 21-stage race, Froome was subjected to abuse from spectators and media accusations of doping, with one French physiologist labelling his display as “abnormal”.

It would have been easy for Froome to snap but he stayed very professional and I was so pleased he came out on top. It’s one heck of an achievement.

It is a such a shame there is suspicion surrounding Froome. If it comes out in a few years that he has doped, we will stand corrected. But, at this moment in time, he’s done absolutely nothing wrong.

It’s disgraceful how Froome has been hounded. Team Sky and Froome were much better than everybody else this year but Froome had this witchhunt against him.

Quite a few people have picked up on the fact that Froome’s results weren’t great when he was younger and have commented on how much he has improved. Some people have said he shouldn’t be this good because no one marked him out for stardom. If that’s what they are basing the argument on, then that’s ridiculous.

Athletes develop and come through at different times. I was a late bloomer. It took me until the age of 30 to become a world champion in my sport. Does that mean I have doped because I wasn’t classed as being good at 23? What a ludicrous argument!

If somebody is good at cycling, then people think they are automatically a doper. Unfortunately, cycling is tarnished with that image because of the Lance Armstrong affair and other incidents on the tour. The only other high profile sport where that happens is the 100m.

*Well done to my friend James Hope-Gill and the ‘Fat Lads from Dore’, who rode from London to Paris in aid of Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s Make It Better appeal. In the 323-mile bike ride, the guys cycled from Westminster, where they were cheered on by Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg, and ended up riding through to the Eiffel Tower. They were all inspired to cycle by watching the Tour de France last year and have raised more than £40,000.