Hinds: Sorry Chris Froome, there's no benefit of the doubt when you fail a drug test

Hinds: Sorry Chris Froome, there's no benefit of the doubt when you fail a drug test

Yeah right, Chris Froome.

You were clutching that asthma inhaler just a bit too tightly during the Vuelta a Espana in September and double pumped when you only needed a single burst. Is that what we are supposed to think?

I mean, how were you to know that you were spraying your lungs with the drug Salbutamol that some claim enhances performance? You've only been monitoring your use of the drug for your entire career, right?

It's not like you needed to take every possible precaution to avoid getting an excess dose of a substance that could give you an advantage over your opposition. Well, one that could at least make sure you are not disadvantaged against cyclists taking "life-saving medicines" of their own.

Besides, your highly prestigious team's medical experts will have been on hand every time you stuck so much as a throat lozenge in your gob to make sure everything was above board. Of course they would.

Which team was that again? That's right, Team Sky. The one that is still subject to a British House of Commons enquiry about alleged irregularities, including the delivery of a suspicious parcel to your former teammate, Sir Bradley Wiggins — the rider who Russian hackers revealed had "therapeutic use exemptions" to take otherwise-banned drugs.

The Team Sky that tried to suppress stories about that little "misunderstanding" and would still be sitting on the details of your "adverse analytical finding" if a newspaper reporter hadn't reminded them.

It's all OK though, Chris. You've tweeted:

Nothing to see here. Record (clean) fifth Tour de France title, anyone?

Besides, your legion of fawning fans rushed to tweet their support: "Confident you are completely clean and above board", "I'm sure you are an honest sportsman" and "Unfortunately in this day and age there are just so many people who are jealous of success".

These people just know you haven't done anything wrong. Because … ummm … because every cyclist swears on a copy of Lance Armstrong's It's Not About The Bike that they haven't taken anything stronger than a headache tablet since they were in grade six?

And, as naive as they sound, these fans might be right.

Every positive test evokes the endemic cheating scandals of the past

Froome's positive test could well be the result of an accidental overdose of a drug that, in normal quantities, supposedly gives him no greater advantage over the field than his bike pump.

Or subsequent tests might prove Froome's body reacts in different ways to others; that he ingests Salbutamol at an abnormal rate, giving the mistaken impression he had taken more than the permissible amount.

But hands up if your thought train took you down the most cynical track, as mine did, when you heard the news the four-times Tour de France champion was under investigation?

When it comes to the issue of drugs in sport, so conditioned is our thinking by decades of scandal we make Pavlov's Dog seem as free-minded as Lassie.

Every positive test — or "adverse analytical finding" — evokes the endemic cheating that has blighted every sport from weightlifting to darts.

Every excuse reminds us of the athlete who claimed the anabolic steroid was in his toothpaste or the tennis player whose cocaine positive was the result of a nightclub kiss. Pull the other one, it's got human growth hormone on it!

Russia's state-sponsored doping has seemingly taken us back to the systematic steroid-munching Soviet style regimes where shot putters with luxurious moustaches threw the iron ball astonishing distances. The men were also very good.

But, of course, after the Berlin Wall came down we lived through the free-enterprise doping days. The era when the laboratories of Balco and other pharmaceutical distributors were so far ahead of the testers you needed a detective to catch drug cheats, not a sample jar.

So where once our admonishment of the Russians might have been heightened by our righteous indignation, now we tut-tut quietly from our own tarnished backyard.

Accordingly, there is no benefit of the doubt for suspected users of drugs, performance-enhancing or recreational, no matter where they are from or how piffling the matter might seem.

The gulf between scepticism and cynicism has long been crossed

Australian golfer Mark Hensby, famed for a brief and now-distant period of excellence on the USPGA Tour, will be banned after failing to provide a urine sample after a recent round.

Hensby's excuse was that he had played so badly he was contemplating retirement as he stormed off the course. Having already taken relief (without penalty) on the course, he wasn't going to stick around for hours until his bladder was in the mood.

If you know the tempestuous Hensby, his excuse is entirely plausible. But, understandably, the rules don't allow for the temperamental and discombobulated.

So instead of waking up the next morning, changing his mind about retirement yet again and heading to the practice range, Hensby will have a one-year enforced break from the game.

Hensby's crime might well be stupidity but he will get zero sympathy in an era where the gulf between scepticism and cynicism has long been crossed.

Similarly, Froome's excellence might have once provided an aura of infallibility. Now it only fuels our suspicion about what fuelled him.