British cyclist Chris Froome could be awarded the 2011 Vuelta a España from his hospital bed after the original winner José Cobo Acebo was retroactively stripped of the title for doping on Thursday.
Froome, who recently underwent surgery and was recovering in intensive care in France after he fractured his femur, hip, elbow and several ribs in a severe crash during the Criterium du Dauphine race, could become Britain's first Grand Tour winner.
"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that the UCI anti-doping tribunal has rendered its decision in the case involving Juan José Cobo Acebo," the UCI said in a statement.
"The anti-doping tribunal found the retired rider guilty of an anti-doping rule violation (use of a prohibited substance) based on abnormalities from 2009 and 2011 detected in his biological passport and imposed a three-year period of ineligibility on the rider," it added.
Cobo still has the opportunity to appeal the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Froome and his then Team Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins came second and third respectively in the Spanish Grand Tour that year.
The four-time Tour de France winner, who currently rides for Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky until a change in sponsorship in Feb. 2019), went on to win the Vuelta a España in 2017. He has also won the Giro de Italia, the first Brit to do so.
The 34-year-old Brit remained in intensive care at the University Hospital of Saint-Etienne following his crash on Wednesday.
He hit a wall at speed when he momentarily took his hand off the handlebars to blow his nose.
“He had surgery to repair his femur, his hip, his elbow,” his team principal Dave Brailsford said in Boen-sur-Lignon before stage 5 of the Dauphine on Thursday.
“He’s got broken ribs, a little bit of internal damage as well, so he’s staying in intensive care for the next couple of days and then we’ll go from there.”
Froome's injuries have ruled him out of this year's Tour de France, which is set to begin on July 6.
"It is a very serious accident. Clearly, he will not be at the start of the Tour de France," Brailsford said Wednesday.
"It will take quite a long time before he races again."
Froome has also won three trophies in the Dauphine (2013, 2015 and 2016). EFE-EPA