Team Sky re-states zero tolerance on doping: riders and staff to sign up to "having no past or present involvement in doping"

…Or they're out, but can everyone at Sky sign up to having no past involvement with doping?

by Tony Farrelly   October 17, 2012  

Giro 2012 S4 TTT Team Sky start (picture Fabio Ferrari - La Presse - RCS Sport) 5172

Team Sky has issued a statement re-affirming its stance on doping and its commitment to winning clean. As part of that commitment each member of the team and its support staff will be required to sign up "to a clear written policy confirming that they have no past or present involvement in doping." However given the recent revelations in USADA's reasoned decision for its sanctions against Lance Armstrong will all those currently part of the Sky set-up be able to sign up?

Sky's statement (reproduced in full below) goes on to say that those who for whatever reason feel they can't sign up or who sign up and are subsequently shown to be in breach of the policy "will have to leave the team". Given recent events there has to be a question mark over the future at Team Sky of Bobby Julich, Sean Yates and Michael Rogers.

Sky commitment to its stated zero tolerance approach particularly when it comes to hiring people with a doping past has recently come under intense scrutiny. Only last week the team announced that it was ending it's association with the former Rabobank team doctor Geert Leinders who is alleged to have at best turned a blind eye to riders doping and at worst actively helped them do so.

Worse still was the revelation in the USADA evidence of Michael Barry's doping past, the Canadian who rode for Sky from 2010 until his retirement at the end of this season. In his affidavit to USADA Barry admitted to doping while riding for the USPS and Discovery Teams betwen 2002 and 2006 - something he had concealed from the powers that be at Sky when signing for them. While Barry's assertion that he rode clean after 2006 is generally accepted under Sky's zero tolerance policy he should never have been on the team.

While Michael Barry may be the most obvious name associated with Sky to have been caught up in the USADA revelations surrounding the publication of its Reasoned Decision in the Lance Armstrong case questions have also been raised about two senior members of the Sky management team team Sporting Director, Sean Yates and Race Coach, Bobby Julich. Both rode for the Motorola team in the Nineties alongside Lance Armstrong many who have read Leipheimer's testimony have joined the dots and concluded that Julich is the rider whose name is redacted as "rider 4" in George Hincapie' affidavit to USADA, like rider 4 Julich shared a house with Hincapie in Como in 1996 and also like rider 4 he did unexpectedly well at the 1996 Vuelta finishing 9th.

Given that Team Sky will be asking riders and staff to commit to having "no past or present involvment with doping" Julich may have a problem signing up if he is officially revealed to be rider 4. Even without official confirmation that he is that rider 4 the circumstantial evidence looks fairly over-whelming which must put a question mark over his future at with the team.

While Sean Yates is not named in the USADA evidence - his picture with his arm around the shoulders of "motoman" (face redacted) outside the Stars 'n' Bikes bike shop is listed as Exhibit A with Frankie Andreu's affidavit. Yates who was a member of the Discovery management team from 2005 has denied any knowledge of the systematic doping that USADA claims existed in the team. He is further damned in many people's eyes by his continued association with Bruyneel after 2005 and with Armstrong again in the first season of his comeback with Astana.

In his defence Yates can point out that he is at no point mentioned in any of the rider testimony regarding doping at USPS/Discovery and they certainly don't hold back, nor, perhaps tellingly is his image redacted in the Exhibit A photograph. USADA did redact the names and images of those implicated in doping but whose activities fell outside the scope of the Armstrong investigation - so action could be taken against them in the future. That may put a bit of distance between Yates and active inolvement with doping at Discovery but even then it stretches credibility to breaking point to believe that he didn't know that doping was taking place.

Yates is also reported to have failed a drugs test in 1989 at the first stage of the Torhout-Werchter Classic - however, the matter was dropped and he was not sanctioned due to a mix-up in the labelling of the sample. It seems inconceivable given his stature as a British cyclist and the publicity surrounding the incident at the time that Team Sky's management did not know about the Torhout-Werchter Classic test when they signed him up.

If Sean Yates were forced out there is no doubt it would be a blow to Sky, from the outside at least he seems to have played a significant part in making them a more savvy and effective racing unit and he was the man in the car calling the moves during their successful bid to win this years Tour de France. Some of their Tour-winning race tactics seemed to come straight from the USPS/Discovery playbook, but then the other thing that USPS/Discovery were good at was tactics. Yates is also part of Sky's British core and outside of the team is still very popular with many British cyclists both for the manner in which he rode as a professional and for the fact that he has continued to compete as an amateur and veteran long after his retirement.

Mick Rogers is the final member of the current Team Sky set up and the only rider still on the team to be discomfited by the revelations surrounding USADA's case againt Lance Armstrong. Levi Leipheimer says in his affidavit that in 2005 Rogers took part in two training camps run by Dr Michele 'EPO is no more harmful than orange juice' Ferrari. Although, there is no actual evidence of doping Ferrari's reputation is toxic - an Italian court convicted him of sporting fraud just a year before the training camps and he was the subject of a lifetime ban by the Italian anti-doping body CONI. Rogers has publicly admitted that he made an "error" by attending the training camps, but Team Sky have said nothing on the matter.

Statement from Team Sky

Team Sky has had a clear position on doping from the very start. We are a clean team and have shown it is possible to win clean.

We want a team in which riders are free of the risks of doping and in which fans – new and old - can believe without any doubt or hesitation.

There is no place in Team Sky for those with an involvement in doping, whether past or present. This applies to management, support staff and riders.

Like others, we have been shocked by recent revelations of systemic doping in cycling’s past. So we have taken steps to reaffirm our commitment to being a clean team.

Today the riders, staff and management of Team Sky entered their annual end-of-season camp, where we review the season, plan the year ahead, and look to the future.

At its start, Team Principal Dave Brailsford re-stated our stance on doping and called on the riders, staff and management to reaffirm their own personal commitment to our position.

Over the coming weeks, we will talk individually with each team member and ask everyone, at every level of the team, to sign up to a clear written policy, confirming that they have no past or present involvement in doping.

Should anyone choose not to sign up to our clear policy they will have to leave the team, as will anyone who does sign but is subsequently found to be in breach.

We are making this statement because we believe it is important to be open about the steps we are taking. However, we do not intend to give a running commentary on this or to discuss any individual at this time.

By reaffirming Team Sky’s position on doping, we aim to play our part in a clean future for cycling in which everyone can have confidence in the sport.

24 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Bye Bye Yates and Rogers then....

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9307 posts]
17th October 2012 - 22:46


posted by leedgreen [30 posts]
17th October 2012 - 22:57


Thats quite a few years old that one. Puerto was 2006 and still being investigated. That was a nice UCI income for anyone who signed it and got caught though. Wink

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9307 posts]
17th October 2012 - 23:08


We can not knock team Sky too much for their positive statement, it is a step in the right direction. One can always argue about past indiscretions, lord knows it is warranted but a sea of change is a good thing . But enough with the drug cheats let's even the playing field . Not for one moment suggesting they are whiter then snow but you have to draw a line in the sand at some point:)

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
18th October 2012 - 7:53


bloody sean yates ....

posted by Karbon Kev [682 posts]
18th October 2012 - 7:58


I can't help but feel that Sky will be putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage by doing this for no other reason than appearances.

I don't think anyone realistically believes that Sky are involved in doping (I certainly hope not) and I don't see what effect having Sean Yates or Michael Rogers on the team will have on that. There are so many people in cycling who have 'a past' that it's not easy to find qualified, experienced, riders and directors untainted by doping. Especially for an english speaking team where the majority of english speaking people involved in running a team will probably have some connection to US Postal/Discovery.

I see why Sky are doing this but they're making a rod for their own backs, and either way, they're still relying on riders and team staff to be open and honest about their past which clearly didn't work when they recruited Barry.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
18th October 2012 - 8:07


Seoige wrote:
We can not knock team Sky too much for their positive statement, it is a step in the right direction. One can always argue about past indiscretions, lord knows it is warranted but a sea of change is a good thing . But enough with the drug cheats let's even the playing field . Not for one moment suggesting they are whiter then snow but you have to draw a line in the sand at some point:)

What about the yellow snow you sometimes see next to walls and trees. Funny how you never see it anywhere else Thinking

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3163 posts]
18th October 2012 - 8:12


So they've shifted position again then, away from their recent concession that experienced staff with no dope-stains were hard to find, and back to 'no dope history at all'.

Think they would have been better off maintaining the status quo on the policy, and just focussing on Mick Rogers (since Barry's gone anyway). Even then, I'm not sure about them being sacked as per Levi - if there were any riders thinking of coming clean about their past, they certainly won't now unless put under the same kind of pressure.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3688 posts]
18th October 2012 - 8:27


You know what - the past is the past. What people did then was wrong but surely we should draw a line under it like Sky is doing and say that what is important is the road ahead not road just travelled and in some cases many mils and years back.

It seems to be more about the people who doped and not about the sport and its future. if we keep harping back to past problems how ever extreme. They all doped it was a level playing field - get over it and leave it alone. Make the sport now for the future. I could not care less about the past except as a way to understand a way to act now and for the future.

However I don't expect this will happen when those that police the drugs war are hell bent on destroying the sport through past transgressions.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [119 posts]
18th October 2012 - 9:04


So the stance is "tell us the truth and you'll lose your job". Not sure that is the best way to encourage openness ...

posted by sponican [82 posts]
18th October 2012 - 9:10


I can't see how Yates can stay now tbh.

Another person I am a tad disappointed in is Roger Hammond (not on Sky payroll afaik). Why? Because I always felt he was a clean rider and had a strong anti-doping stance yet I remember him being interviewed on ITV during the Vuelta coverage and saying that there was no doping in the team, etc. Was he the only one 'out of the loop?' - given the info that has come out so far it seems as if the whole team know about it tbh.

I hope I am wrong about him and his view. I really do.

posted by Super Domestique [1686 posts]
18th October 2012 - 9:34


i think this 'we have no people associated with us therefore we're clean' attitude isn't great.

What you need is controls in place to monitor the situation. You could get someone completely clean (rider or admin) who starts causing problems.

Vilifying all who doped because everyone was at it is being hard on them. Yes there were people who were big wheels (bruyneel, armstrong, ferrari etc...).

Mind you if all these guys are getting sacked then there'll be plenty of room for guys like me who have a clean doping record... and zero experience Smile

posted by kitkat [276 posts]
18th October 2012 - 10:22


It's the only way to do it - a clear line in the sand and a new era. The sport will be stronger, more competitive and totally credible. I'd rather wait another 100 year's for the next brit Tour winner than win by cheating.

posted by mick intherain [14 posts]
18th October 2012 - 11:12

1 Like

Team Sky policy proves 1 thing: Jonathan Vaughters and the teams he has run have called the situation spot-on since the start, and have done the most to move the sport forward with their policies. Brailsford's policy is naive and idealistic, and whilst in some ways the "we are all clean as a whistle" approach was the easiest thing to do from a PR perspective, it has not helped the sport overcome its past, only driven people like Barry, Rogers, etc underground when their experience could be used for the ebnefit of younger generations(or maybe it is the policy of SKY PR, rather than Brailsford's - after all, who really calls the shots when they invest so much money into the sport these days?)

Vaughter's approach of targetted forgiveness and rehabilitation of athletes who show remorse is by far the more progressive and intelligent one, and also the more difficult and braver choice when he has to keep sponsors on board in a market where the dominant teams have ever increasing budgets. His recognition that the sport needs to face up to its past is entirely commendable. Honestly, who the hell at SKY HQ seriously thought Michael Barry, Mick Rogers, Sean Yates, Bobby Julich had never seen or touched anything??? Did they really have to see a USADA report for the penny to drop, or had they ignored the last 15 years of cycling history?

The SKY philosophy will doubtless win them fans. They will be able to profit from their stance commercially. But any true cycling fan with the long-term interest of the sport at heart would prefer to see past offenders spill the beans and unravel the corrupt network that enabled it, so the long-term sustainability of the sport is better served.

theclaw's picture

posted by theclaw [75 posts]
18th October 2012 - 11:30


I would agree with what theclaw has written.

Brailsford & co publicly set the bar very high to begin with (naively so?). They had to lower it a bit and are now looking to set it even higher. PR whitewash isn't the same as doing it right, though I hope it gets the same end result.

The momentum for change must come from within the peloton as well as the teams and sponsors. We need to hear more voices like those of Taylor Phinney, Steve Cummings and Nicolas Roche.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2323 posts]
18th October 2012 - 12:25

1 Like

Does working with Leinders count as involvement with doping?

posted by fiftyacorn [91 posts]
18th October 2012 - 13:16

1 Like

Seriously one of the things I like about cycling is the lack of commercial bullshit compared to so many other sports and the fact that fans are treated like intelligent grown ups. So please SKY stop with the PR bulshit or I'm off to support Astana!

posted by belgravedave [253 posts]
18th October 2012 - 14:34


Vaughter's "recognition that the sport needs to face up to its past is entirely commendable"?
Are you talking about the same Jonathan Vaughters who didn't admit his own doping past until this year?

The past is not the past. It reaches forward and continues to shape today's sport. The history of pro cycling is that riders who operate in a culture of endemic doping bring their experience of these working practices into their post-race careers in team management and support. This just reinforces the status quo, and as long as everyone keeps quiet and doesn't rock the boat, it's a case of "as you were".

I am always puzzled when I hear David Millar saying that things have changed so much, and young riders today don't face the same choices and pressures that he did. This just doesn't seem to square with the news I continue to read about today's pro cycling.

Sky's approach adds another anti-doping deterrent. Not only do you risk losing your job as a rider; you are also jeopardising that essential post race career. Of course it won't stop doping, but it's the right thing to do.

posted by kcr [101 posts]
18th October 2012 - 15:33


Gkam84 wrote:
Bye Bye Yates and Rogers then....


jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1344 posts]
19th October 2012 - 9:04


kcr, if you truly understood the sport of professional mens road racing you could never have made that post. You talk about the "history of pro cycling", yet you don't seem to understand the context of that history. If you read between the lines, you will have realised that Vaughters has long been alluding to what he had done in the past (not just this year), and that he has been using his own experience of crossing the line to (1) help rehabilitate riders who have done the same thing and express contrition for their acts and (2) create a team environment that dissuades young riders from ever reaching that point in the first place. If you were to cut off from the sport all management people who had doped as riders, there would be no sport left to run - period. You might not even be able to put on a Premier Calendar, let alone a Grand Tour. The challenge is to excommunicate the bad apples (Bruyneel, etc) and rehabilitate the ones that actually want to make the sport a better place for the next generation.

And yes, things are undoubtably better for the current crop of young riders - have you not read what they say about the situation? Did young riders 10 years ago say the same thing?

Sky's approach is the right thing for their own sponsor, for their own commercial gain and for their own image. But no team is bigger than the sport, and a true fan loves the sport and not the team or rider. Vaughters and his teams are better for the sport, actively helping mend it rather than just profiting from it. Teams like Sky should thank them for it.

theclaw's picture

posted by theclaw [75 posts]
19th October 2012 - 9:27

1 Like

The first ones in the queue to declare their honesty are often the cheats, because they cheat.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1095 posts]
19th October 2012 - 9:31


kcr wrote:
Vaughter's "recognition that the sport needs to face up to its past is entirely commendable"?
Are you talking about the same Jonathan Vaughters who didn't admit his own doping past until this year?

Vaughters was talking about it in 1999 and has been plenty since then. He has purposely avoided saying stuff that would draw too much attention from what he's trying to achieve and said so numerous times. His teams have instigated and implemented many practices others wouldn't or didn't take up until later.

kcr wrote:
I am always puzzled when I hear David Millar saying that things have changed so much, and young riders today don't face the same choices and pressures that he did. This just doesn't seem to square with the news I continue to read about today's pro cycling.

Perhaps Millar knows more about what really goes on in professional cycling teams than you do. Some people have a real problem with him and I can't quite work it out, it strikes me as being a kind of prejudice (that's not directed at your comment BTW). The news is about attention-grabbing headlines. Look at what has been said by Wiggins, Cavendish, Phinney, Nicolas Roche and others - they are keen for the sport to be different, better.

If you spend your life reading bad news then you'll think the world is a terrible place full of terrible people doing terrible things. I don't watch the news on the telly or routinely buy newspapers any more - I don't need that torrent of shit in my life (never mind all the pointless dross about famous actors, so-called 'celebrities', celebrity TV shows, weather presenters and so on).

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2323 posts]
19th October 2012 - 11:09


Well Sky just decimated their Team ! Whilst i doubt that some Brits would have followed Sean Yates example , i feel sure that Rogers will be wondering what people think of his time at Team Telecom ?

John Fahey is mooting an " AMNESTY " and he had better get on and make it work before ALL SPONSORS decide they do not want to be compromised !

So many Sports have a " Doping Problem " so a GENERAL AMNESTY , which i have been blogging about , is the only situation which will gain support from NATIONAL Governments , and i feel sure that by involving IOC there will be a positive response form Athletes , both Past & Present !

At present Athletes in some countries risk " Double Jeopardy " in coming forward but " Suspension of the Penal Codes during an " AMNESTY for Dope Usage ", ONLY , will get good results ! Those that were engaged in Criminal activity such as Supply , will find an uncertain future awaiting them . Criminals control Sport these days through intimidation , so an AMNESTY will release many of their victims !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [406 posts]
21st October 2012 - 6:37


Things have changed?€30m-italian-doping-inquiry-bigger-operacion-puerto
For anyone who doesn't do bad news, that's allegedly a doping ring involving riders from 20 teams, with the investigation covering activities up to 2011.
I reckon I have a reasonable grasp of pro cycling's history and its context. What I have seen is a consistent failure over many years to really get to grips with the culture of endemic doping. There was a lot of talk about how things have improved, but I'm not convinced about how much substance there is behind this. Stories like the one above seem to suggest that it was business as usual. Perhaps the law enforcement authorities and anti doping agencies know more about what goes on in pro cycling than David Millar?

It is just possible that the fall out from the LA case will be so great that things will change significantly, and I think that is very positive for the sport. If Sky want to take a tougher stand as part of that change, I'm not going to criticise them.

posted by kcr [101 posts]
21st October 2012 - 19:49

1 Like