Brailsford assessing team doctor’s role with Sky Procycling
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Brailsford assessing team doctor’s role with Sky Procycling

by Shane Stokes at 8:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Says team has nothing to hide; Leinders’ Rabobank past being studied

Dave BrailsfordTeam Sky principal Dave Brailsford has admitted there is a ‘reputational risk’ to the squad over its appointment of former Rabobank doctor Geert Leinders, and has said that the team is currently looking into his past.

The British team holds first and third place overall in the Tour with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, but has come under fire due to Leinders’ presence on the team payroll.

He previously worked with the Rabobank team during a period of time when it was admitted that doping was tolerated. Former pro Jan Koerts has said that Leinders helped ensure that his haematocrit remained under the 50 percent limit, and there are suggestions that Leinders did likewise for other riders. He is also said to have stated in the past that there is no room for a zero-tolerance approach in cycling.

However Team Sky was set up with that very principle as one of its stated goals. Speaking to the Times, Brailsford conceded that he may have been naïve in not looking deeper when signing Leinders in late 2010, but denied that Leinders has broken any anti-doping rules. “I categorically, 100 per cent say there is no risk of anything untoward since he’s been with us. But there is reputational risk,” he told the Times.

Brailsford said that the team employed the doctor following widespread illnesses suffered by the team in the 2010 Vuelta, plus the death from a virus of one of the soigneurs, Txema Gonzalez. “We had all these riders sick going: ‘What is going on? This isn’t good enough.’ And you think: ‘We’re putting these guys at risk here.’ We sat down afterwards and we said: ‘We do not know enough about looking after people in extreme heat and extreme fatigue.’”

The team had previously stated that it would only employ British doctors with no cycling background; Brailsford said that the Vuelta experience meant that it decided to change its stance.

“That’s why we decided to go and get him. Has he been a good doctor? Brilliant. The guy really understands. It’s not about doping, it’s about genuine medical practice.”

However it is understood that Leinders’s future with the team is not assured due to the questions being asked about his past.

In a long interview with VeloNation, outspoken sports journalist Paul Kimmage stated that he believed the team had fallen short of the openness it had promised as a core value when it was being set up.

“The only thing I ever hoped about Sky is that they were transparent. I didn’t care if they won the Tour or not, but that they adhered to the principles that they laid out when they started. They said they’d be completely open and that hasn’t happened.”

He said that Leinders’ appointment was one of several things that concerned him, and said that the race leader Bradley Wiggins needed to be less guarded about the scrutiny that the yellow jersey brings. “I don’t know how you can lead the Tour de France and not speak out about doping, yet speak out in the past so openly.”


Kimmage’s interview can be read here:

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