Chris Froome could be banned from this year's Tour de France if his ongoing drugs case has not been resolved, according to reports.
The British cyclist has won the Grand Tour for the last three years in a row and four times in total but tested positive for asthma medication salbutamol as he won the 2017 Vuelta a España.
He was found to have had twice the permitted 1,000 nanograms per millilitre concentration in his sample but has denied any wrongdoing and has not been suspended.
According to the Press Association, Tour de France organisers the Amaury Sport Organisation could prevent Froome from starting this year's race in Noirmoutier-en-l'Île on July 7.
They quote sources which say the French company "has no intention of letting a rider race with a potential anti-doping violation hanging over him".
ASO, it is reported, believe they could win any legal challenge from Froome's Team Sky outfit due to its rules about safeguarding the image of the race.
Froome is hoping to win the Giro D'Italia this year, which is the only Grand Tour to elude him following his wins in France and his success last year at the Vuelta.
The Italian race has said they will not be able to stop him competing from May 4, when the event gets underway with three stages in Israel.
International Cycling Union (UCI) President David Lappartient has claimed it would be a "disaster" if Froome raced at the Tour de France with the case still not dealt with.
However, the organisation has opted not to suspend the 32-year-old despite possessing the power to do so.
"It's possible and it’s true that we have this power," Lappartient, who has called on Froome to be suspended by Team Sky, said to the Press Association.
"But for salbutamol, it's never been done, and we have to respect the rights of Chris Froome.
"It's not possible to have a specific treatment for him.
"And no other International Federation has taken this decision for salbutamol.
"So if we were the only International Federation to do this - and just for one rider - I think we would be in the wrong and could badly lose."
Froome would equal the record number of Tour de France victories should he win the race again.
Earlier this month he called on Lappartient to express any concerns to him personally and not through the media.
"I get that it's a difficult situation, this was obviously meant to have been a confidential UCI process but this was made public, so that changes things," Froome said to cyclingnews.
"Given his concern for the reputation of the sport, I think it would be more sensible of him to raise his concerns in person or at least though the right channels as opposed to through the media.
"I'm obviously doing everything I can to get this resolved as quickly as possible, and just trying to keep my head down."