Armstrong case: Yates insists he saw nothing suspicious as rider or directeur sportif
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Armstrong case: Yates insists he saw nothing suspicious as rider or directeur sportif

by Shane Stokes at 9:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Sky’s Alex Dowsett says Armstrong is a 'legend of the sport'

Sean YatesFormer pro and current Team Sky directeur sportif Sean Yates has insisted that he saw nothing at all that was suspicious during his time working alongside Lance Armstrong, either as a rider or as part of team staff.

The 52 year old competed alongside Armstrong between 1992 and 1996 as part of the Motorola team, then was a directeur sportif on the Discovery Channel team between 2005 and 2007. As part of the latter role, he worked with Armstrong during his final season prior to his retirement in 2005.

Yates was part of the Motorola team at a time when former team-mates Frankie Andreu and Tyler Hamilton said a decision was made by Armstrong and others to use banned substances. He was also part of the management setup at Discovery Channel when multiple witnesses stated that doping was a major part of the team.

However today Yates insisted to BBC radio 5 Live that he saw nothing at all of suspicion during his six years alongside Armstrong.

“It's all pretty damning for Lance and the whole history of his seven Tour wins, and beyond. My opinion is one of disappointment, I’m upset, really. [I’m shocked] at the depth of the whole system. I worked with Lance but never had any indication this practice was going on…it is disappointing,” he said.

“I was there in 2005, for his last Tour win, and before then I was working with another team. I’d turn up, I’d drive the car in the Tour de France, and I never saw an indication of anything dodgy going on. I used to go out in the morning, go out on my bike, go back, drive the car, and call the tactics now and then, but I never saw anything untoward.”

It was put to Yates that at the time there was growing suspicion about Armstrong and his Tour wins. “There was always a certain amount of speculation surrounding Lance and also other athletes,’ he accepted, “but I believed, having known Lance when he was young, that he was just a superb athlete and we were a well-drilled team with a great leader. I didn't really pay much attention, it wasn’t really my job. My job was to make sure that the guys performed on the road, and did the right thing on the road…it was not to do with their training or anything else.

“I knew him from when he was young and he became world champion. I just believed he was a physically superior being, and that he was winning. He was also very, very determined and this damning report bears that out in varying degrees.”

Yates had a positive A sample in 1989, but the B analysis didn’t back up the result. He became part of Team Sky’s management team in 2009. It remains to be seen if the revelations of doping on the Discovery Channel team will lead to any questions from his current squad about what he saw then.

Meanwhile British time trial champion and Team Sky rider Alex Dowsett appears not to be perturbed by the 1000 pages of evidence released by USADA yesterday in relation to doping by Armstrong and the US Postal Service team, saying that the Texan remains "a legend of the sport.”

“I don't think it matters. He is still a legend of the sport. A guy who had cancer came back and won the Tour de France,” he told the BBC. “I think it's not really important and I really don't think it matters.”

Dowsett said that the peloton is ‘all racing clean’ now. “It was a different sport back then.”

Fellow Briton Steve Cummings (BMC Racing Team) said that Armstrong had done a lot for charity.

“It is easy to say and point your finger on all the bad things but you could look at the good things he has done as well,” he said. “He has done a lot good things, like his cancer charity, you know. When I met him, he was a nice guy to me.”

Dowsett’s current boss Dave Brailsford gave a very different reaction today. “It is shocking, it's jaw dropping and it is very unpleasant,” he told the BBC. “It's not very palatable and anybody who says it is would be lying, wouldn't they?”

Retiring Team Sky rider Michael Barry was one of those who admitted doping in yesterday’s documents. Brailsford learned of accusations concerning Barry over two years ago, but insisted that the Canadian did not tell him the truth until recently.

Armstrong has been handed a lifetime ban from sport and has had all of his results since August 1998 struck off. He opted not to fight USADA’s charges and was thus liable for sanctioning.


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