Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford has described as “jaw dropping” the extent of the allegations of doping contained in the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s reasoned decision in the Lance Armstrong case, published yesterday, and has expressed his disappointment in the team’s rider, Michael Barry, who has admitted doping while riding for the US Postal Service team.
"It is shocking, it's jaw dropping and it is very unpleasant, it's not very palatable and anybody who says it is would be lying wouldn't they,” Brailsford told Sky Sports.
"You can see how the sport got lost in itself and got more and more extreme because it seemed to be systematic and everybody seemed to be doing it at the time - it completely and utterly lost its way and I think it lost its moral compass.
"Everybody has recalibrated and several teams like ourselves are hell-bent on doing it the right way and doing it clean.
"The challenge is that it is understandable now for people to look at any results in cycling and question that."
Barry, who joined Team Sky ahead of its debut season in 2010, is among the 11 former team mates of Armstrong who have provided testimony to USADA. The Canadian is the only non-American rider to have done so.
In a sworn affidavit, the 36-year-old recounts how he became immersed in the doping culture at US Postal, the team he rode for from 2002 to 2006, and ended up using EPO and other banned substances.
With Team Sky founded on a strict zero tolerance approach to doping, something that still applies to riders although Brailsford has acknowledged that the policy is impossible to enforce when it comes to team staff, it is clear that Barry failed to disclose his past doping when he joined the British outfit.
"We signed Michael from HTC which was at the time highly regarded as being a very sound, clean team and during his time at Team Sky we have had absolutely no cause for concern whatsoever, there has never been any question in terms of his performances, his training, his behaviour on the team - there have never been any issues in that respect,” said Brailsford.
"But ultimately he lied and we set out with a zero tolerance policy so we said that anyone who has had a doping conviction from the past or proved to have been involved on doping hasn't got a place on Team Sky - that is our policy.
"When you take someone you ask them a question and if someone lies to you and you find out later it's disappointing."
Barry, who revealed last month that the Montreal Grand Prix was his final race as a professional, rendering the six-month ban he faces as symbolic, insists in a statement on his personal website that from 2006 onwards he was riding clean.
“Cycling has always been a part of my life,” said Barry. “As a boy my dream was to become a professional cyclist who raced at the highest level in Europe. I achieved my goal when I first signed a contract with the United States Postal Service Cycling team in 2002. Soon after I realized reality was not what I had dreamed. Doping had become an epidemic problem in professional cycling.
“Recently, I was contacted by United States Anti-Doping Agency to testify in their investigation into the use of performance enhancing drugs on the United States Postal Service Team. I agreed to participate as it allowed me to explain my experiences, which I believe will help improve the sport for today’s youth who aspire to be tomorrow’s champions.
“After being encouraged by the team, pressured to perform and pushed to my physical limits I crossed a line I promised myself and others I would not: I doped. It was a decision I deeply regret. It caused me sleepless nights, took the fun out of cycling and racing, and tainted the success I achieved at the time. This was not how I wanted to live or race.
“In the summer of 2006, I never doped again and became a proponent of clean cycling through my writing and interviews.
“From 2006 until the end of my career in 2012, I chose to race for teams that took a strong stance against doping. Although I never confessed to my past, I wrote and spoke about the need for change. Cycling is now a cleaner sport, many teams have adopted anti-doping policies and most importantly I know a clean rider can now win at the highest level.
“I apologize to those I deceived. I will accept my suspension and any other consequences. I will work hard to regain people’s trust.
“The lessons I learned through my experiences have been valuable. My goal now is to help turn the sport into a place where riders are not tempted to dope, have coaches who they can trust, race on teams that nurture talent and have doctors who are concerned for their health. From direct experience, I know there are already teams doing this but it needs to be universal throughout cycling.
“Progressive change is occurring. My hope is that this case will further that evolution,” he concluded.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.