Brailsford: Sky will turn over ‘everything we’ve got' to WADA to disprove doping claims
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Monday, July 15, 2013

Brailsford: Sky will turn over ‘everything we’ve got' to WADA to disprove doping claims

by VeloNation Press at 8:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
 
British team makes commitment to transparency in a bid to earn trust

Dave BrailsfordTired of dealing with doping questions on the Tour de France and in other races, Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has suggested that the squad would be willing to hand over data to the World Anti Doping Agency in order to provide greater transparency.

The British team has dominated cycling for the past two years, with Bradley Wiggins taking first and second in last year’s Tour plus first and third in the Olympic Games time trial, and Wiggins winning Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné.

This year Froome and Richie Porte took a one-two in the Critérium International and the Briton also won the Tour of Oman, the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné. Porte was best in Paris-Nice. The dominance is such that Sky is far ahead at the top of the WorldTour team standings, holding 1062 points to Katusha’s 769.

However that has come at a price: wearied by the scandals of recent decades, many have asked if Sky’s dominance is possible without banned substances.

Brailsford has long insisted that it is, but has done little to back up those claims. Now, speaking at the team’s press conference on the second rest day of the Tour, he appears willing to turn talk into action.

“How can I prove to you that we are not doping? You’re all asking the same questions,” he told the assembled press. “We wrack our brains every day. We see each other in the morning in front of the bus and we see each other at night after the stage. Every day we get asked the same question. I can assure you we are thinking very hard about the optimal way of proving to you guys that we’re not doping.”

Acknowledging that many have been calling for the release of power data, Brailsford repeated his recent insistence that putting such data out into the public domain would do little to clarify things. However he said that the team would consider doing so to the World Anti Doping Agency, along with other information too.

“We’ve been thinking about the biological passport and how that works with an appointed panel of experts who get all the information, all the blood data from everybody, and analyse that,” he said. “Of course the biological passport isn’t just a blood value; theoretically, the biological passport should be blood value, weight, power, it should be a whole picture of that individual, not just blood values.

“If you extrapolate that thinking forward I think we’d be quite happy, we’d actually encourage, maybe WADA to appoint an expert and they could have everything that we’ve got.”

The offer, which would be more than any other team does at present, would be a major step forward in terms of team transparency. It remains to be seen if WADA has the resources to accept the offer, but providing the offer is followed through upon, there is certainly scope for a thorough assessment of the team.

“They could come and live with us, they could have all of our information, see all of our data, have access to every single training file we’ve got,” said Brailsford. “They could have access to everything. We could then compare the training files to the blood data, to weight... All of that type of information they could capture on a consistent basis.

“It seems to me WADA are a good body to sit and analyse all that data. They then could tell the world, and you, whether they think this is credible or not. To me that would be my best answer and my best shot...”

Brailsford said that he and the team had faced questions due to Froome’s dominance of the Tour, and that he considered it unfair.

“We planned that performance for quite some time,” he said, referring to yesterday’s stage, where Froome dominated the final climb and bolstered his race lead. “Chris has been out to Ventoux to recce the climb, thought very carefully about how to ride it, how to ride as a team. And when you see that performance unfolding in front of you exactly as had been planned for some time, and Chris rode so fantastically at the end to win the stage, it was quite an emotional thing to watch.

“[Yet] the first thing that crosses my mind, having jumped in the air and punched the air, is not: right, that’s my five minutes of joy gone, let’s get on to the doping questions. Which happens every day.”

Brailsford said that he welcomed suggestions from the media as to what could be done. “Instead of saying, ‘Dave, how are you going to prove you’re not doping?’ - which isn’t the greatest question to ask - why not think collectively, what would be the best methodology possible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that we and Chris aren’t doping?

“I’m not sure I’ve got the answer to that. But if we think collectively maybe we could come up with an answer that said, actually, this would be a fantastic way of doing it. If we could contribute to that, we’d be quite happy to do it.”

“Our idea is, we give all our information to WADA and they can have everything that we’ve got. They’ve got all our bloods anyway. They can have power data, weight, where we’re training, what we’re doing. Somebody sits there and pieces it all together and says yes or no. Quite happy to do that.”

However he has one stipulation: WADA makes the assessment and communicates that assessment to the media, but that the riders’ individual numbers remain private. In ways that’s a logical request; it means that haematological experts are the ones who weigh up the blood values, rather than members of the public.

“What I would like is that the data they’re given is treated the same way as the bloods; so they get to see all the bloods but they don’t release it to the press, yet we trust their opinion. Something along those lines might be a fruitful avenue...”

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