Updated: More departures from Sky "highly likely" admits Dave Brailsford after Bobby Julich confesses to doping

Race coach's name was widely thought to be one of those redacted in USADA report, departure a blow to Chris Froome

by Simon_MacMichael   October 25, 2012  

Sky Pro Cycling logo

Dave Brailsford has said it is "highly likely" that Team Sky will have to "hurt ourselves" more following confirmation earlier this evening that Bobby Julich, who has worked as race coach with teh team for the past two years, has left the British WorldTour outfit after admitting doping in the late 1990s. The implication by Brailsford, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, is clear - Julich won't be the last to go. The American is the first member of staff to leave the team after it restated its anti-doping policy last week in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal. In his role, Julich worked particularly closely with Chris Froome, helping develop him into a rider who finished second in both the 2011 Vuelta and this year's Tour de France.

There's no way of knowing who exactly might follow Julich out of the door. Sports director Sean Yates attracted widespread criticism when he claimed earlier this month to have had no idea whatsoever that Lance Armstrong was doping when the Briton was a DS at Discovery Channel in 2005, and the Briton would also be one of his sports directors at Astana in 2009.

Unfortunately for Yates, he also appears in a photo in an appendix to USADA's Reasoned Decision in the Armstrong case next to a picture of the Cote d'Azur bike shop owner claimed to be the infamous Motoman who would deliver EPO to the Texan on the 1999 Tour.

That could be nothing more than two people who have developed a friendship due to years of having a mutual acquaintance in common, but when that acquaintance is Lance Armstrong, it's not a relationship you'd want publicised in the current environment, however innocent.

Michael Rogers is a current rider of Team Sky who has specifically been named in the USADA documentation,  mentioned by Levi Leipheimer in connection with training camps run by Dr Michele Ferrari after the latter had been banned by the Italian cycling federation.

Again, right now when Ferrari, also banned for life by USADA, is once again at the centre of a major anti-doping investigation in Italy, any past association with him, even if it truly is an error of judgment and one unconnected with doping as many riders incuding Rogers insist, is bound to be viewed with suspicion.

Julich himself had been widely identified as the former Motorola rider named by George Hincapie in his affidavit to the United States Anti USADA published alongside its Reasoned Decision in the Armstrong case. While USADA had redacted his name, there were enough clues to for him to be readily picked out as 'Rider 4'  - his team, nationality, shared residence with other riders in Como and strong Vuelta performance in 1996, when Julich finished ninth overall.

Team Principal Dave Brailsford, who just yesterday in Paris claimed that the team would try and be sympathetic towards any staff who came forward to admit to involvement with doping, commented: “Bobby has shown courage in admitting to the errors he made long before his time with Team Sky. We understand that this is a difficult step for him and we’ve done our best to support him.

“It’s important to emphasise that there have been no doubts about his work with us or his approach as a coach. He has done a good job and been a good colleague during his two years with us. Bobby has our best wishes for the future.

“We’ve made clear our commitment to being a clean team and been open about the steps we’re taking. Although it’s never easy to part, we believe this is the right thing to do.”

Froome had said yesterday that he feared that Sky's insistence that team staff reaffirm their commitment to its anti-doping policy would result in some departures, and the fact that it is Julich who is first to go will be a blow to the rider who is likely to lead the team in next year's Tour.

Julich is the second member of staff to depart Team Sky in the wake of the Armstrong affair, the other being the Canadian rider Michael Barry, who had already anounced his retirement prior to it being revealed that he was one of the 11 former team mates of Armstrong to have provided testimony against the Texan.

Jullich himself was once widely seen as a future Tour de France winner and riding for Cofidis finished third to Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich in 1998, the year of the Festina scandal and the last edition before Lance Armstrong began his seven-year domination of the race. That 1999 itself race saw Julich himself abandon after crashing in an individual time trial.

He would go on to ride for Team Telekom then CSC, where in 2005 he became the first American rider to win Paris-Nice, but never quite fulfilled that potential that 1998 podium position promised - although due to the Festina affair, that was a race that only half the riders finished, with strong GC contenders such as Richard Virenque and Alex Zulle among those thrown off the race.

 

 

33 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

Sky have lost my support, I'll still be routing for the riders, well done Bobby for admitting, I admire you, life is not as black and white as this, this type of action benefits nobody apart from the self righteous Brailsford

posted by mikeprytherch [173 posts]
25th October 2012 - 19:29

like this
Like (1)

Gkam84 wrote:
Very honest of him, he'd never been suspected before. Although he was part of the Telekom and CSC set up's who have produced some dopers.

Never suspected? Surprise
He was third in 1998. Thinking

Chuffy's picture

posted by Chuffy [183 posts]
25th October 2012 - 21:01

like this
Like (0)

totally agree with the decision. If he took drugs previously then the Team Sky approach is "your not working with us".

Until more teams follow their route and make it known that no one will be allowed to use or have any connections with drugs then the sooner the sport will be classed as clean.

Some people will say its all the experienced staff getting the boot, then so be it. It will bring on more enthusiastic younger director sportif' who will learn how to coach and direct the team to win without the use of drugs.

I have no sympathy with anyone who has used drugs, simple as that.

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

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2425 posts]
25th October 2012 - 21:01

like this
Like (0)

To be honest I'm amazed that anyone has come forward and committed career suicide like this. If more Sky staffers come forward, confess and then leave it will be a huge shame because all that will have happened is that the more honest guys will have been kicked out, leaving the recalcitrant liars behind. At least until their past catches up with them.

Are you listening Mr Yates?

Chuffy's picture

posted by Chuffy [183 posts]
25th October 2012 - 21:05

like this
Like (0)

Gkam84 wrote:
Very honest of him, he'd never been suspected before. Although he was part of the Telekom and CSC set up's who have produced some dopers.

There may not have been any hard evidence, but suspected for sure.

posted by festival [94 posts]
25th October 2012 - 21:50

like this
Like (0)

I admire you, life is not as black and white as this, this type of action benefits nobody apart from the self righteous Brailsford[/quot

Maybe it needs a harsh approach to bring a reality check to all concerned that think its ok to cheat, and only own up when the have been found out. Get real.

posted by festival [94 posts]
25th October 2012 - 21:58

like this
Like (0)

Stumpy, think on this: DSs are almost always retired pros. Pros usually retire around the ages of 34-38/9, right? So this means that those guys will have been riding from at the latest the late 90s through the 00s. Through the height of Generation EPO in the pro peloton racing in Europe. So where are these younger DSs who have experience at racing at the top level, but are somehow unconnected with doping either directly or indirectly, supposed to come from? Because I'm afraid careers that have been spent racing for GB Conti teams, where some of the highlights would have been the Lincoln GP or Eddie Soens, isnt going to cut it as a coach or DS for the top team in the world.

posted by Sam1 [206 posts]
25th October 2012 - 22:11

like this
Like (0)

Calling Mr Yates... Thinking

posted by Alb [72 posts]
25th October 2012 - 22:11

like this
Like (0)

Chuffy wrote: "Never suspected? He was third in 1998."

Given the number of riders kicked out due to Festina, I think even I would have had a decent pop at a podium in 1998 Wink

Gkam wrote: "Although he was part of the Telekom and CSC set up's who have produced some dopers."

Though Julich insists he was clean post 1998 when his wife found out about his doping and threatened to leave him if he carried on. Swears he hasn't touched anything since. His own statement doesn't read like the cookie cutter confessions of the USPS 11.

Thinking aloud... how about an amnesty for non-rider team staff for offences dating back more than 8 years (and therefore beyond WADC limitation), with the condition of a life ban for anyone subsequently found to have failed to disclose anything within that 8 year period?

If Julich's telling the truth - *if* - you could argue he is *exactly* the sort of person we need in the sport right now - someone who succumbed when doping was rife and actively encouraged by teams, who stepped back from that and is better placed than most to guide young riders away from it.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7473 posts]
26th October 2012 - 1:08

like this
Like (0)

If you don't take a tough stance, the anti-doping policy won't work. The line would get blurred if you started taking into account the personalities involved. "Yeah, he was a doper, but he's a lovely guy and deserves a chance" seem a reasonable approach, but it wouldn't have the desired effect, ie stopping doping - you'll end up with riders thinking "I'll just take drugs but be lovely to everyone while doing it and I'm bound to get work later."

posted by ElCynico [15 posts]
26th October 2012 - 2:36

like this
Like (0)

Based on the confession on cycling news:
So Bob took epo 15 years ago and has tried to protect & educate riders since then? I think it is team sky that has lost its way. I hope he gets a job with a more progressive organisation than the draconian one he leaves behind.

posted by kitkat [181 posts]
26th October 2012 - 7:07

like this
Like (1)

yeah come on Brailsford, get rid of that twat sean yates ...

posted by Karbon Kev [650 posts]
26th October 2012 - 8:05

like this
Like (0)

Chuffy wrote:
To be honest I'm amazed that anyone has come forward and committed career suicide...

I think it's quite a smart move. I'd bet that most teams will look at the Garmin approach as the leading one in years to come - allow the ex-dopers in, provided that they come clean about it and commit to the vehement anti-doping approach. Which means that Julich will actually preserve a possible future career by doing this, whereas if he lies about it now and is then 'outed' later, he'd suffer a much greater harm to his reputation and most teams wouldn't touch him.

Sky's approach is clearly very harsh, and not necessarily that helpful in the anti-doping fight, but its what the sponsors want. Brailsford's comments yesterday were a big mixed message - to me, that suggests he doesn't necessarily agree with the approach, and he certainly isn't taking it as a personal issue with any of the riders (see his relationship with Millar) but that he's driven by the sponsors to do this. If that's the case, it's difficult to argue that it is a necessary step for the survival of the team.

posted by step-hent [634 posts]
26th October 2012 - 9:19

like this
Like (0)

its not harsh its utter stupidity, we need people who will be open about doping, this action sends it underground again. This is about the rehabilitation of our sport, to do this we need the open experiences of people who have done it previously, in all walks of life past offenders are used to educate (alcoholics, prison etc.) this works we know it works, so we need past dopers to come out, look at the excellent work Miller has done.

This is Brailsford and nothing else, its about his reputation and that not being tarnished.

posted by mikeprytherch [173 posts]
26th October 2012 - 9:25

like this
Like (1)

I admire Team Sky stance on this 100% - there can be no halfway house on this issue or we will have no sport left.

They lead in technology, application and now the correct stance in anti doping.

Bobby has been incredibly honest and I can see him being snapped up by the likes of Garmin who will get a man with inside info on the Sky setup and who has clearly had a big impact on Froomes rise. Its easy to feel sorry for him but he will be a stronger man for admitting this.

With the UCI seemingly unable to offer any leadership it has to be down to teams like Sky.

posted by NeilXDavis [97 posts]
26th October 2012 - 9:26

like this
Like (2)

mikeprytherch wrote:

This is Brailsford and nothing else, its about his reputation and that not being tarnished.

I suspect that Sky might care a little about their reputation too. Do you not imagine that a zero tolerance approach might be written in to the sponsorship agreement somewhere?

Yates, Rogers and Sutton next.

posted by Huw Watkins [41 posts]
26th October 2012 - 9:33

like this
Like (0)

Huw Watkins wrote:
mikeprytherch wrote:

This is Brailsford and nothing else, its about his reputation and that not being tarnished.

I suspect that Sky might care a little about their reputation too. Do you not imagine that a zero tolerance approach might be written in to the sponsorship agreement somewhere?

Yates, Rogers and Sutton next.

My view is that this is the price of keeping Sky on board. DB pitched them the concept of a clean team to bring them on in the first place (doesnt mean that I'm impressed with some of DB's hiring decisions - I think he's been naive at the very least)

posted by Sam1 [206 posts]
26th October 2012 - 10:06

like this
Like (0)

Um, Yates did not ride with Armstrong in 2005. He was a DS at the Tour de France.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1300 posts]
26th October 2012 - 10:14

like this
Like (0)

Perhaps this is really why DB is shedding staff? (courtesy of Popbitch)

"Earlier this year Team GB cycling coach Dave Brailsford met Sir Alex Ferguson to exchange management tips and techniques. Brailsford was particularly keen to know the secret to Fergie's and Man Utd's success longevity. Ferguson's reply? "Get rid of the c**ts."

posted by Huw Watkins [41 posts]
26th October 2012 - 10:41

like this
Like (0)

cat1commuter wrote:
Um, Yates did not ride with Armstrong in 2005. He was a DS at the Tour de France.

Of course, brain overload, sorry. Thanks for the spot.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7473 posts]
26th October 2012 - 10:43

like this
Like (0)

Quote:
If Julich's telling the truth - *if* - you could argue he is *exactly* the sort of person we need in the sport right now - someone who succumbed when doping was rife and actively encouraged by teams, who stepped back from that and is better placed than most to guide young riders away from it.

Totally agree.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [642 posts]
26th October 2012 - 11:38

like this
Like (1)

There is a huge risk here that the Brailsford holier than thou walking on water approach is going to backfire. This is a PR excercise from a parent brand thats worried about any more negative press following the phone hacking affair. This is doing nothing to resolve the doping problem and I will not support the team if it continues.

I'm backing Yates, he's a brilliant DS and association should not mean an automatic guilty verdict.

posted by Simmo72 [210 posts]
26th October 2012 - 12:02

like this
Like (1)

Sam1 wrote:
Stumpy, think on this: DSs are almost always retired pros. Pros usually retire around the ages of 34-38/9, right? So this means that those guys will have been riding from at the latest the late 90s through the 00s. Through the height of Generation EPO in the pro peloton racing in Europe. So where are these younger DSs who have experience at racing at the top level, but are somehow unconnected with doping either directly or indirectly, supposed to come from? Because I'm afraid careers that have been spent racing for GB Conti teams, where some of the highlights would have been the Lincoln GP or Eddie Soens, isnt going to cut it as a coach or DS for the top team in the world.

You will probably find your wrong about certain points. Just because they rode during the 90 - 00's doesnt mean they are druggies, a bit of a sweeping statement. There are many riders who have never been and never will be implicated in drug use who could ply their trade as a DS and just because you were a top pro rider doesn't mean you will automatically become a brilliant DS, its a learning curve.

Look at football and rugby, a lot of top coaches never graced the international field on a regular basis but are still damn good coaches - ie Mourinho for one.

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

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2425 posts]
26th October 2012 - 13:37

like this
Like (1)

There are two types of dopers (in my opinion)
a)Ex dopers who 'fess up and are repentant and get on with the job in hand in a clean manner
b) weezly ex dopers who slime around trying not to get caught, wiggle around when they do and come back as if nothing has happened (and probably carry on doping until they caught again)
The a)'s deserve a second chance (those without sin cast the first stone etc etc) and can probably contribute a lot. The b)'s should be got rid of.
I think Sky are wrong on this.

posted by Some Fella [615 posts]
26th October 2012 - 14:37

like this
Like (0)

Stumpy, my point about guys who rode in the 90s and 00s wasnt that they all doped - but that everyone is at one step removed at least from a doping colleague, a doctor, even a manager. And we can see where guilt by association in going in the general hysteria. The younger DSs are from that generation of riders. I dont see how Sky can avoid that.

You used football as a comparison, citing the fact that Mourinho never played at the top intl level. True - but football and cycling are hugely different. With football, you have a much smaller set of variables and factors: a 90 min match, 1 area of competion, the pitch. 1 opposing team of 1l players. Compare that a GT of 3 weeks, avg 20 stages. Up against 21 other teams. The DSs have to plan and replan stragegies every day, and throughout the day, adapting to the terrain, the weather, the tactics of the other teams, the state of their own riders. They have to negotiate with other DSs - often ex-pros who were team mates or compatriots or even old mates - for which the network and familiarity is crucial. As is knowing from their own experience just how to get through a GT. These things cant be simulated.

posted by Sam1 [206 posts]
26th October 2012 - 14:50

like this
Like (0)

Its a simple message isnt it?

If you did it confess.

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1185 posts]
26th October 2012 - 14:54

like this
Like (0)

Since his reputation was built on his 98/99 performances, it seems fair to say that his career was built on doping.

Consider the clean riders who were just as talented but never even got a shot at a career because of people who doped. Like Julich.

posted by ElCynico [15 posts]
26th October 2012 - 15:48

like this
Like (0)

Sam1, lets agree to disagree. All coaches regardless of sport do similar things on a daily basis.

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

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2425 posts]
26th October 2012 - 17:14

like this
Like (1)

Reply to Sam1. Rod Ellingworth "cuts it".

Follow me, I'm right behind you.

kenem's picture

posted by kenem [3 posts]
26th October 2012 - 18:47

like this
Like (0)

I was talking about DS's not coaches - very different roles. But fine, will leave it there.

posted by Sam1 [206 posts]
27th October 2012 - 6:50

like this
Like (0)