Are cracks appearing in the Walsh / Sky love affair?

by daddyELVIS   June 22, 2014  

Walsh has been very quiet since puffer-gate and the subsequent revelations about Froome's TUE at the TdR - but today, in an article for the Sunday Times, he broke his silence.

I've only seen quotes from the article on the CN website, but the following is quite telling:

"What has happened to the team’s belief that TUEs should not be sought for riders in competition? Farrell says he was unaware this ethical position existed within the team. Froome says he never heard of it. But Peters has said it did exist at one point and the team are in only their fifth year," Walsh writes. "As in the case of the appointment of (former Rabobank doctor) Leinders, Team Sky talk the talk of high ethical standards but do not walk the walk."

Finally, from Walsh's own mouth - Sky talk the talk, but do not walk the walk!

I'm sure Walsh hasn't delved too far below the surface in this article, but it's a start!

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farrell wrote:
DaddyElvis, GKam, Glynr - Do you think all British riders, from 1997 onwards, should be stripped of every medal they have won?

Why would I think that? I actually think you can cheat on a Monday but not on a Tuesday Wink

Besides, I can't remember calling for any cyclist (past or present, track or road) to be stripped of any titles - why would I do that?

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
25th June 2014 - 23:07

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daddyELVIS wrote:
farrell wrote:
DaddyElvis, GKam, Glynr - Do you think all British riders, from 1997 onwards, should be stripped of every medal they have won?

....

Besides, I can't remember calling for any cyclist (past or present, track or road) to be stripped of any titles - why would I do that?

Read farrells reply to the questions about that. It seems to me he's merely taking the current situation and extrapolating back to get to one of a number of possible (though not necessarily correct) conclusions. If that conclusion was correct then, given your previous posts, presumably it should result in the medals being stripped.

It is not to say that conclusion is correct, or even probable - indeed that's probably part of the point - but seems inline with what you'd expect from a team so manipulative and with such evil intent as portrayed in the reasoning of a number of people on the intertubes.

Of course I might have that completely arse about face - in which case he'll hopefully correct me.

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posted by fukawitribe [358 posts]
26th June 2014 - 8:57

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Surely the Biological Passport means that they cant be doing anything too exotic.

I wonder if an athlete is sick and then takes some medicine then is the potential PED benefit is balanced out by the fact he is sick in the first place?

The issue to me here is not that Sky used an exemption but that the TUE should be issued by committee and not by an individual.

Its all in the Pineapple Juice and water combo of course !

posted by unclebadger [16 posts]
26th June 2014 - 10:32

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I'm tempted to play along with the twitterati here, but I won't.

Everyone sarcastically says "pineapple and water" but that's really missing the point about the aggregation of gains thing. Some of the gains just aren't that marginal at all, and when we're only talking 3 minutes over the course of 90 hours riding (or, if you'd prefer, an hour or so of ITTs and maybe 8-10 hours of mountain passes) the difference between winning and losing is tiny. Teeny tiny. Even on my 11 hour example there, where the individual comes to the fore instead of being swept in the peloton, we're talking less than 0.5% difference between first and second.
Have a read of "Faster' by Dr Hutch, in which he talks to a lot of riders, coaches, nutritionalists and even psychologists, some of whom work for Sky. To take one huge example, the way the body converts the nitrates beetroot juice to nitrites can make the way your body uses its energy up to 16% more efficient. 16%! That's not marginal, that's vast. There's all sorts of examples like that in the book, and presumably those are the ones the teams assume everyone knows. If a team has the inside track on something else nutritional,technical or otherwise then it's unlikely they'll share that knowledge because they'd be giving away a legal advantage to their competitors.

Ok, the TUE thing does need to be hugely looked into - corticosteroids apparently make a massive difference to both your weight and your ability to soak up the pain, but there's not much illegal about them at the moment. It's sad that teams use them, but on the other hand you've got to assume the UCI will encourage teams to ensure their big names are competing in races - it's why people watch the sport, and in turn it's how the sport makes money. And if a team's been building one rider towards a GT and unlucky illness strikes, will they pull out and ruin their season, or take the TUE and hope they can compete?
Imagine Froome and Bertie caught a cold in Yorkshire, didn't take any medicine and were dropped by the Peloton before London? Suddenly the great battle we were promised is gone.

posted by bashthebox [638 posts]
26th June 2014 - 11:21

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daddyELVIS wrote:
mooleur wrote:
I think their statements were actually around having none of their *riders* having had past links to doping - back office staff-wise I think we can all agree that's nigh on impossible.

Sorry, you're mistaken - they even went so far as to say they wouldn't even employ docs from cycling.

Sorry, I've never seen statements stating that they would never employ back office staff who had links to doping, note the use of the word *links* - do you have a copy or URL of the article stating this?

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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
26th June 2014 - 12:21

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fukawitribe wrote:
Of course I might have that completely arse about face - in which case he'll hopefully correct me.

No, you are following the demented logic of it all correctly.

posted by farrell [1394 posts]
26th June 2014 - 15:21

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mooleur wrote:
daddyELVIS wrote:
Sorry, you're mistaken - they even went so far as to say they wouldn't even employ docs from cycling.

Sorry, I've never seen statements stating that they would never employ back office staff who had links to doping, note the use of the word *links* - do you have a copy or URL of the article stating this?

4th paragraph: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2009/jun/28/tour-de-france-dave-br...

You may have seen this article from Kimmage and dismissed it as the work of a desperate man on a desperate mission, but I think he makes some very interesting and valid points: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-2177405/Bradley-Wig...

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
26th June 2014 - 21:49

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fukawitribe wrote:
daddyELVIS wrote:
farrell wrote:
DaddyElvis, GKam, Glynr - Do you think all British riders, from 1997 onwards, should be stripped of every medal they have won?

....

Besides, I can't remember calling for any cyclist (past or present, track or road) to be stripped of any titles - why would I do that?

Read farrells reply to the questions about that. It seems to me he's merely taking the current situation and extrapolating back to get to one of a number of possible (though not necessarily correct) conclusions. If that conclusion was correct then, given your previous posts, presumably it should result in the medals being stripped.

What I'm saying is two-fold:

1) I don't believe Brailsford's claims that a person can't control and be selective about cheating

2) I'm not calling for the stripping of medals or titles from convicted dopers - that a choice for the authorities to make.

My viewpoint is that top-level pro sport is awash with doping (both 'legal' and illegal) and the doping is way ahead of the testing. Therefore if you strip a title, how can you be certain the 2nd placed competitor (who then becomes the default winner) is 100% clean? You can't. Therefore if you strip a title, the only safe option is to have no winner (as is now the case with the 7 Tours from 99-05), but that would make sport a farce!

My issue with Sky is not that they may (or may not) be doping - any team in the pro peloton could be doping for all I know. My issue is that they promised so much about doing things differently, being transparent, being cleaner than clean, so we could be left with no doubt about their integrity and cleanliness. But, this has been PR guff and total BS. This is where I feel let down with Sky.

I've said at various times that I don't think the issue of doping in sport is a simple black & white issue - and when a rider gets popped for doping, I'm not usually too critical, as he's likely to be no more or less doped (over the course of a season of training and racing) than the next rider.

With Sky, it's the BS that gets right up my nose!

BTW, the one rider I am most confident about is Taylor Phinney - this is based on how outspoken he is against even 'legal' doping. Granted, we only have his word to go by, so we could be let down in the future, especially if his class (see his palmares as a 17 - 20 yr old) doesn't quite get him the results you may expect as a senior rider (a rider in such a position may get frustrated and be tempted!).

My own favourite riders, of course I have suspicions about - 1 is a convicted doper. But they are favourites none-the-less because I watch the sport as a fan, excited by classy riding, and I'm not naïve to think that pro sport at that level is fuel by bread and water.

I hope that clears that up!

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
26th June 2014 - 22:33

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daddyELVIS wrote:
I hope that clears that up!

Not really, no. Your entire argument is seemingly predicated on Sky behaviour being "total BS" and some over expectation of transparency e.g. as you once said

"If they were as clean and ethical as they say then they would have everything to gain from total transparency"

...it is not up to them to provide you with what you believe is sufficient.

I am not a Sky 'fan', nor am I blind to the possibility of skullduggery on their part, but I don't find much point in endlessly debating straw men either.

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posted by fukawitribe [358 posts]
26th June 2014 - 22:49

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bashthebox wrote:

Everyone sarcastically says "pineapple and water" but that's really missing the point about the aggregation of gains thing. Some of the gains just aren't that marginal at all, and when we're only talking 3 minutes over the course of 90 hours riding...

Froome won by 4' 20" - the biggest winning margin since the Armstrong years - just sayin'

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
26th June 2014 - 22:51

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fukawitribe wrote:
....straw men

I wondered when they would arrive Worried

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
26th June 2014 - 22:56

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daddyELVIS wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:
....straw men

I wondered when they would arrive Worried

Well, you could always stop using them... Smile

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posted by fukawitribe [358 posts]
26th June 2014 - 23:05

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fukawitribe wrote:

Well, you could always stop using them... Smile

Can't recall using them Waiting

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
26th June 2014 - 23:07

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And Coppi won by 28 minutes, before there was any sophisticated doping of any sort. So what's your point, again?

posted by bashthebox [638 posts]
26th June 2014 - 23:11

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daddyELVIS wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:

Well, you could always stop using them... Smile

Can't recall using them Waiting

Perhaps an apology of sorts - it's not just you, and my differences with you are mainly of a subtley different bent. However, here's what I seem to see from yourself and others

Person 1 : Sky seem to be handling situation X OK, what more would you expect ?
Person 2 : If Sky were as clean and ethical as they pretend/there was nothing to hide, they would do Y in response to X (where X is whatever the person that person deems 'acceptable' to them)
Person 2 : Sky did not do X, therefore there is something to hide/they're unethical etc

Doesn't sound familiar at all when that team comes up in conversation ?

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posted by fukawitribe [358 posts]
26th June 2014 - 23:16

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bashthebox wrote:
And Coppi won by 28 minutes, before there was any sophisticated doping of any sort. So what's your point, again?

There was no point - hence "just sayin"

But, while you mention it, I wonder where Froome would have finished back then Thinking I know one thing, Coppi was more than 6.5 times the rider Froome is Wave

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
26th June 2014 - 23:17

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Was he though? I mean, is that something you can possibly know?
There's 70 years between them competing, training, nutrition, technology, attitudes, money - so much is different. Christ, there's enough differences in the last 10 years that it's hard to compare today's athletes to the era of massive EPO abuse.

posted by bashthebox [638 posts]
26th June 2014 - 23:22

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daddyELVIS wrote:
bashthebox wrote:
And Coppi won by 28 minutes, before there was any sophisticated doping of any sort. So what's your point, again?

There was no point - hence "just sayin"

Then just say what you mean and stop this ridiculous alluding to then "Oh but I never actuallysaid that" nonsense. It's banal and tiresome.

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posted by fukawitribe [358 posts]
26th June 2014 - 23:28

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fukawitribe wrote:
However, here's what I seem to see from yourself and others

Person 1 : Sky seem to be handling situation X OK, what more would you expect ?
Person 2 : If Sky were as clean and ethical as they pretend/there was nothing to hide, they would do Y in response to X (where X is whatever the person that person deems 'acceptable' to them)
Person 2 : Sky did not do X, therefore there is something to hide/they're unethical etc

Blimey, you've lost me there!

Here's a simple example of Sky BS - you might call it a 'straw man' - but to me it's quite clear:

Person DB said: they would only hire British docs from outside of pro road cycling to avoid links to doping.
Person DB then hires a foreign doc who was previously employed by a cycling team with a doping problem.

If you want a 'straw man' check out Person DB's justification for hiring dodgy foreign doc!

I don't make this Bullsh!t up you know - Person DB is an expert at it!

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
26th June 2014 - 23:38

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bashthebox wrote:
Was he though? I mean, is that something you can possibly know?
There's 70 years between them competing, training, nutrition, technology, attitudes, money - so much is different. Christ, there's enough differences in the last 10 years that it's hard to compare today's athletes to the era of massive EPO abuse.

I'll be guided by the palmares - please don't argue that Froome may be on a level with Coppi Rolling On The Floor

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
26th June 2014 - 23:43

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fukawitribe wrote:

Then just say what you mean and stop this ridiculous alluding to then "Oh but I never actuallysaid that" nonsense. It's banal and tiresome.

It was a reply to a posting about Sky's 'marginal gains' being able to justify a winning margin of 3 mins by a clean rider over the course of the TdF.

I was merely pointing out Froome's actual winning margin which was nearly 50% greater - that's all.

Then Coppi was brought into the argument from somewhere - not sure why Coppi and Froome are being mentioned in the same breath! At Wits End

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
26th June 2014 - 23:51

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daddyELVIS wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:
However, here's what I seem to see from yourself and others

Person 1 : Sky seem to be handling situation X OK, what more would you expect ?
Person 2 : If Sky were as clean and ethical as they pretend/there was nothing to hide, they would do Y in response to X (where X is whatever the person that person deems 'acceptable' to them)
Person 2 : Sky did not do X, therefore there is something to hide/they're unethical etc

Blimey, you've lost me there!

Seriously ?

daddyELVIS wrote:
Here's a simple example of Sky BS - you might call it a 'straw man' - but to me it's quite clear:

Person DB said: they would only hire British docs from outside of pro road cycling to avoid links to doping.
Person DB then hires a foreign doc who was previously employed by a cycling team with a doping problem.

If you want a 'straw man' check out Person DB's justification for hiring dodgy foreign doc!

I don't make this Bullsh!t up you know - Person DB is an expert at it!

Brailsford said, when setting up Sky that Sky needed two additional doctors and, at that time, he wanted them to be British doctors without links to cycling to try and ensure no linkage to cyclings doping scandals. What he didn't say is "i'll never hire doctors from inside cycling". So you have created a slightly different version of his stance, used that as a foundation of their behaviour, countered it by their hiring of Leinders (that was at best and 'interesting' PR move by them, agreed) and thus conclude they're full of BS. Unreasonable precise ?

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posted by fukawitribe [358 posts]
27th June 2014 - 7:27

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fukawitribe wrote:
....and thus conclude they're full of BS. Unreasonable precise ?

That's one example, there are more, but I can't be bothered to list everything. If you're so interested, you can find it. However, please do check exactly what DB said when justifying the hiring of Leinders - any ounce of respect I might have had for him was lost right there!

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
27th June 2014 - 7:52

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daddyELVIS wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:
....and thus conclude they're full of BS. Unreasonable precise ?

Sorry - meant 'précis' not 'precise'.

daddyELVIS wrote:
That's one example, there are more, but I can't be bothered to list everything. If you're so interested, you can find it.

Well, see, that's rather the point. What I posted was a straw-man argument - yours, as far as I can see. Interesting that you seem to agree with it...

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posted by fukawitribe [358 posts]
27th June 2014 - 8:12

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daddyELVIS wrote:
However, please do check exactly what DB said when justifying the hiring of Leinders - any ounce of respect I might have had for him was lost right there!

I have been doing just that. Sounds like naivety and a lack of planning to me (oh the irony). By Skys own admission, the previous decision to hire British, non-cycling doctors would have left them ill-prepared, if continued, if someone on their medical staff went away - as happened when their soigneur died suddenly. They went with someone (part of 4 part-time positions as I understand it) with previous experience, in particular with riders in adverse and extreme conditions.

Sky also began to realise that you can't always get what you dream of... (Brailsford 2011)

"We've got to admit now there is a difference between having a dream, an aspirational goal, and specific targets. So what we need to do with individuals is to allow them to work towards specific targets – so it is something they can control.

"If I could wind the clock back we would have a much more humble arrival into professional road cycling. There was a real element of hype and I'll hold my hand up and admit I got caught up in that. We would tone that down if we could start all over again."

That's fairly open to me. When things started crawling out of the woodwork, they spoke with Leinders and investigated, BR had this to say at the time (road.cc)

"I categorically, 100 per cent say that there's no risk of anything untoward happening in this team since he [Leinders] has been with us," insisted Brailsford, quoted on Telegraph.co.uk.

"I've seen nothing and neither have the full-time medics. I'd put my life on it,” he continued, adding: “"He's done nothing wrong here, but we have a reputational risk.

"This is not about doping. We're pushing the guys to their limits, so we need to look after them. It's about genuine medical practice," he maintained.

Brailsford went on: "We have had discussions with him and once we've established the facts, we will take the appropriate action."

They investigated, and terminated his contract. Afterwards Brailsford said of the matter

“The whole thing is my responsibility,” said Brailsford. “I will take that squarely on the chin. It’s something I regret, it’s a mistake.”

“I should not have done it. I made an error of judgment.”

None of that comes across as a straw-man. Stupid ? Yes. Predictable ? Probably. Evil, plotting, scheming, cheats ? Probably not. People trying very hard to win whilst doing making things marginally better in cycling ? I'd say so, but many wouldn't. It's also incredibly difficult to prove you're not doing something, especially in a competitive sport. Up to you - I like to think i'm open minded on this either way and I think where I have an issue with some, such as yourself, is that you've got yourself in a position where you can't reasonably change your mind no matter what happens. I really hope i'm actually wrong on that.

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posted by fukawitribe [358 posts]
27th June 2014 - 8:53

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fukawitribe wrote:

Well, see, that's rather the point. What I posted was a straw-man argument - yours, as far as I can see. Interesting that you seem to agree with it...

Blimey, I moved on from debating who is straw-manning who, FFS. What that was, was your interpretation of exactly what DB meant, I took it as a little more water-tight given that back in 2009 the recruitment policy of Team Sky was written out in a manual weighing half a tonne! That's opinions, only DB knows what he meant, but there's no getting away from the situation that he didn't hire any doctor when he deviated from the original policy, he hired a doctor with clear and very recent links to doped cyclists, not only that, but the hiring of Leinders was done in a clandestine manner. His justification of the doctor's employment reads like a shameless exercise in damage-limitation straight from the school of Alistair Campbell.

Right, that's me done on this thread (which deviated massively from original question). No doubt we'll cross paths during the Tour.

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
27th June 2014 - 9:00

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daddyELVIS wrote:
mooleur wrote:
daddyELVIS wrote:
Sorry, you're mistaken - they even went so far as to say they wouldn't even employ docs from cycling.

Sorry, I've never seen statements stating that they would never employ back office staff who had links to doping, note the use of the word *links* - do you have a copy or URL of the article stating this?

4th paragraph: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2009/jun/28/tour-de-france-dave-br...

You may have seen this article from Kimmage and dismissed it as the work of a desperate man on a desperate mission, but I think he makes some very interesting and valid points: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-2177405/Bradley-Wiggins-battle-cyclings-drug-demons--Paul-Kimmage.html

Thanks for those - I still stand by what I said, though, Brailsford did state previous violation - links to questionable people in sport aren't necessarily proof of any violation. It's only logical to assume that at some point, there are going to be staff involved at any level in any GT team that have had a brush with the darker past in some shape or form. That's just unfortunate fact. It doesn't, however, mean all their riders are doped up to the nines.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
27th June 2014 - 9:09

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Coppi - Froome ?

Its the same arguement that got bounced about re Ali - Tyson.

In the end its different era's and different times so you will never know. Both are / were fantastic riders.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2697 posts]
28th June 2014 - 22:03

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I'm not sure I compared Froome to Coppi except to hold up the daftness of moaning about a 3 and a half minute time gap being an obvious indicator of doping.
Almost every winning margin in the (major) EPO era was 4 mins or more, sure - but what about mr 2nd place? So he wasn't doping? Do me a favour.

Look, there may be doping going on, there may not. But there's no evidence to prove it either way so it all comes down to heresay and assumptions. Sky aren't doing everything the way we want, perhaps - but which team is? Full transparency is a ludicrous thing to demand in the context of professional sport unless every single team is doing it 100% of the time. If they're not, then it's not a level playing field is it? Even then, the weaker teams have so much more to gain from full transparency than the stronger ones, so it's never gonna happen.

posted by bashthebox [638 posts]
29th June 2014 - 19:35

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bashthebox wrote:
I'm not sure I compared Froome to Coppi except to hold up the daftness of moaning about a 3 and a half minute time gap being an obvious indicator of doping.
Quote:

I wasn't saying it was an obvious sign of doping (and I understand your Coppi comment - apologies for twisting that), I was throwing it out there to question how much of a winning margin can be down to Sky's 'marginal gains', especially when some believe Sky are not any more advanced as most other top-level teams.

Have you seen the interview between Froome (& Cound) and Kimmage? Fair play to Froome for taking it, but it does illustrate that Sky maybe aren't all that! A great interview and worth a read - it's in 2 parts BTW - apparently 3 hours in all.

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 13:56

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