Team Sky confirms it will no longer work with Dutch doctor Geert Leinders
British team had come under fire for employing former Rabobank doctor on freelance basis
Team Sky have this evening confirmed that former Rabobank doctor Geert Leinders will no longer work with the team. Leinders’ involvement with Team Sky came under scrutiny this summer due to his alleged links to doping while at the Dutch team, resulting in Sky team principal Dave Brailsford announcing an internal investigation into his background.
While it is understood that the investigation has now finished, Team Sky has not confirmed whether its findings are the reason it has decided to no longer engage the services of Dr Leinders, who had worked for it since December 2010.
A team spokesman told the website Cycling News: "Dr Leinders worked with Team Sky on a freelance basis and that has now ended. This summer as promised we looked fully into his work and interviewed him and talked to riders and the full medical team.
“We have no doubts about his work with us or approach. Over the summer we have added to the medical team using staff from outside cycling and we continually look for the best way to work and to support our riders."
The spokesman also said that it would be wrong to say that the doctor, who was not on the team’s staff at the Tour de France where Sky clinched first and second places overall through Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, had been sacked.
Leinders worked at Rabobank at the time the Michael Rasmussen scandal broke during the 2007 Tour de France, and allegations have since been made by a former member of team management that its medical staff were tolerant of riders doping at the time. A former rider also said that Leinders had helped him keep his haematocrit level below the permitted maximum.
In July, as Team Sky came under criticism particularly on Twitter due to its decision to employ Leinders, Brailsford said: "I categorically, 100 per cent say that there's no risk of anything untoward happening in this team since he been with us.
"I've seen nothing and neither have the full-time medics. I'd put my life on it. He's done nothing wrong here, but we have a reputational risk.
Leinders had started working with Sky in the aftermath of the death of soigneur Txema Gonzalez during the 2010 Vuelta due to septic shock resulting from a bacterial infection. In the days beforehand, an unrelated virus had swept through the team’s riders on the race.
Team Sky immediately withdrew from the Vuelta, and Brailsford has subsequently said that its initial decision to only use doctors from the UK who had not worked within European road cycling had left it ill-equipped to deal with some specific aspects of racing on the Continent, such as dealing with extreme heat.
Brailsford last year acknowledged that it in practice it is impossible to staff a top-level professional cycling team exclusively with personnel who have had no past association with doping.
"There's no place for drugs in the sport and we like to think that we're at the forefront of promoting clean cycling," he said in an interview with The Guardian.
"That philosophy will always stay. If we thought it wasn't possible then I'd be out. However, when you're trying to lift performance, and you look at the staffing side, if you want experience of professional cycling you have to go back a long way to find people over 40 who haven't been tainted in some way.
“You have your anti-doping policy but you need to weigh it up. And, actually, if the need of the team in performance was such and there was an individual that was generally considered in the 'positive' group, to excuse the pun, then he couldn't be ruled out."