Updated: Team Sky confirm Sean Yates' retirement from cycling, Steven de Jongh also reportedly leaving

Sky says Yates retiring for personal reasons days after Bobby Julich left team in wake of Armstrong affair

by Simon_MacMichael   October 28, 2012  

Sean Yates and Dave Brailsford (picture credit team Sky).jpg

Team Sky has confirmed this afternoon that Sean Yates has retired from cycling "for personal reasons." The news comes hours after it had been reported that Yates, together with fellow Sports Director Steven De Jongh, would be leaving the team as a result of its internal investigation into doping in the wake of the US Postal scandal. In a press release Team Sky insists that after interviewing Yates, as it is doing with all its riders and staff, "there were no admissions or disclosures that would have required him to leave the team." Yates himself, who has had heart problems in the past, confirmed that medical reasons lay partly behind his decision.

The 52-year-old said:  “I have suffered with my health in recent years and have spent a lot of time away from my home so I feel the time is right to focus on myself and my family."

In an interview with BBC Kent in 2007 ahead of the Tour de France Grand Depart in London he revealed that he had been suffering from a heart condition since around 2003.

"I realise the timing of my retirement will lead to speculation but I can walk away with my head high knowing I have done nothing wrong," he added.

His leaving the team follows the departure of Bobby Julich earlier this week, and with De Jongh said to be on his way out too, leaves Sky's management seriously depleted with less than three months to go to the start of the 2013 WorldTour season.

In a brief statement released this afternoon, Team Principal Dave Brailsford said: "Sean joined us in our first year and has been with us for three tough but rewarding seasons.

“After a long career in professional cycling, he has told us that he wants to move on, for purely personal reasons.

“Sean has been a great support to the riders on the road and a valuable colleague to us all. We wish him the best for the next step in his life.”

As sports director at sky Yates, who is one of five British riders to wear the Tour de France’s maillot jaune, guided Bradley Wiggins to his victory in the race this summer and his departure will be a huge blow to the team.

It's also worth noting that according to Sky's press release, Yates has ceased involvement with the sport altogether, rather than putting himself back on the job market where his CV would have seen him snapped up by another team.

Questions were raised about Yates in the wake of USADA’s publication of its Reasoned decision in the Lance Armstrong case earlier this month.

Yates had ridden alongside Armstrong at Motorola, and then acted as DS to the Discovery Channel team in 2005 and was back working with the American again at Astana in 2009.

The morning after USADA’s publication of its evidence, Yates claimed on BBC Radio 5 Live that he had no suspicions whatsoever that Armstrong had used performance enhancing drugs, a comment that attracted widespread derision.

The USADA dossier included a picture of Yates himself with the man alleged to be the infamous motoman who is said to have delivered EPO via motorbike to US Postal riders during the 1999 Tour - not in itself evidence of anything untoward, but unfortunate for Yates as questions began to be asked about what he might know.

Dutch national de Jongh meanwhile, whose main focus at Sky was on its Classics campaign, rode during the 1990s with the TVM-Farm Frites team, which was itself wound up due to its involvement in doping scandals.

News of the departure of the pair, which follows that of Julich earlier this week and retired rider Michael Barry, one of the former team mates of Armstrong who testified against him to USADA, was broken last night by Telegraph.co.uk.

With the new season beginning in less than three months’ time with the Tour Down Under, it looks a near impossible task for Sky to immediately replace Yates, de Jongh and Julich, particular given the team’s zero tolerance approach to doping, which has seen it require all staff to reconfirm their commitment to its anti-doping policy.

Last week, Brailsford suggested that the team would seek to be sympathetic towards any staff who confessed to past involvement with doping as part of that process, suggesting that it might be softening its approach, although after it was revealed that Julich would be leaving the team, Brailsford said it was "highly likely" that others would follow.

The departure of Julich and now Yates, as well as de Jongh, if the latter is also true, appears to confirm that there is no room for flexibility on Sky’s part.

35 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

I'm thinking about putting in my application to drive the team car. You any good at wheel changes? If so, you could man the backseat Smile

posted by Sam1 [219 posts]
28th October 2012 - 11:49

2 Likes

Yates made the wrong call - he should have known this was going to blow-up and at least demonstrated some contrition - the fact that he stuck to the Omerta and did the "saw nothing, heard nothing" and as we now know, said nothing....I'm sorry I don't have any sympathy for him. To continue with that line of defence is ridiculous, he was Armstrong's room-buddy at Motorola for a start.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [366 posts]
28th October 2012 - 11:49

3 Likes

PaulVWatts wrote:
According to a comment on another site if they admit to doping involvement in the past then they are compensated for the loss of their job. If however they lie and it comes out in the future they will be sacked on the spot with no compensation. This seems to be fair and makes sense looking at it from an employment law perspective.

All employees sign a document stating that they had no part in any doping previously don't they? So if they then admit involvement later, won't they have lied anyway?

posted by Nick T [817 posts]
28th October 2012 - 12:03

3 Likes

monty dog wrote:
I'm sorry I don't have any sympathy for him. To continue with that line of defence is ridiculous, he was Armstrong's room-buddy at Motorola for a start.

Seeing as the whole world knew Armstrong was a drugs cheat, and the whole world knew Yates roomied with him, rode with him, managed him, surely Brailsford must have known involvement when he hired him. I have sympathy that he's lost his position in a team he helped to shape - cleanly - because his boss has to be seen to make a stand.

posted by Nick T [817 posts]
28th October 2012 - 12:06

4 Likes

monty dog wrote:
Yates made the wrong call - he should have known this was going to blow-up and at least demonstrated some contrition - the fact that he stuck to the Omerta and did the "saw nothing, heard nothing" and as we now know, said nothing....I'm sorry I don't have any sympathy for him. To continue with that line of defence is ridiculous, he was Armstrong's room-buddy at Motorola for a start.

doing that radio interview was just ridiculous and dumb

posted by Sam1 [219 posts]
28th October 2012 - 12:07

3 Likes

i guess we will look back on 2012 as the glory year for british cycling (at pro level at least) from Cav winning the worlds at the end of 2011 through the wins of brad to the golds of the olympics.

back to what we Brits are use to now Crying

it was good whilst it lasted

posted by fretters [30 posts]
28th October 2012 - 12:07

2 Likes

fretters wrote:
i guess we will look back on 2012 as the glory year for british cycling (at pro level at least) from Cav winning the worlds at the end of 2011 through the wins of brad to the golds of the olympics.

back to what we Brits are use to now Crying

it was good whilst it lasted

Sad
All Brailsford needs to do is track down Tony Capper Thinking Smile

We'll still have Cav - assuming that the QuickStep train goes choo choo to his liking, and there's not an enormous clashing of egos between him and Boonen...

posted by Sam1 [219 posts]
28th October 2012 - 12:14

3 Likes

Baby > bathwater

posted by Some Fella [786 posts]
28th October 2012 - 13:00

2 Likes

Are the riders robots, incapable of making their own decisions ??????

The DS is an undoubtedly important role but lets get real, the riders know what to do and even a inexperienced DS knows enough to guide what are the cream of riders through a race.

Anyone who thinks otherwise is quite delusional to think that you must be mega experienced to make a good DS.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2809 posts]
28th October 2012 - 13:19

3 Likes

I kinda doubt it, but maybe they will consider rehiring the fired staff.

pedalpowerDC's picture

posted by pedalpowerDC [235 posts]
28th October 2012 - 13:22

4 Likes

Team Skys' commitment to this zero-tolerance policy is impressive. Whether that policy makes sense or not, is another question. Time will tell.

posted by Paul J [644 posts]
28th October 2012 - 14:25

3 Likes

So, if some of the comments above are correct that the role of the DS in team tactics is overstated, then the essentials of the job seem to come down to driving at speed while simultaneously reading bits of paper, eating and talking into a handset?

Maybe Sky should start talent scouting in their fleet of satellite installation engineers...?

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8249 posts]
28th October 2012 - 15:34

3 Likes

Quote:
Sky said Yates's decision was not related to doping, despite the team's zero-tolerance approach to drugs.

Yates added: "I realise the timing of my retirement will lead to speculation but I can walk away with my head high knowing I have done nothing wrong."

Aye right, the chorus is believe it if you like.......

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cycling/20113671

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8934 posts]
28th October 2012 - 15:48

5 Likes

Yates, what a w@nker .....

posted by Karbon Kev [680 posts]
28th October 2012 - 17:04

4 Likes

Pathetic Yates, I hope the truth goes with you to the grave having eaten at you soul for years. A mad policy by Sky but if you're going to follow it, at least don't hide from the truth.

posted by georgee [139 posts]
28th October 2012 - 17:06

3 Likes

IMO if your going to sort this sport out once and for all then clearing out as many of the old guard as possible is the best way.
Losing the likes of Yates and Julich who are regarded as "good guys" by many is a shame when names such as Riis just carry on regardless, but hey! they made a good living and kept their mouth shut and now its time to go.
There are plenty of talented team staff available, just look at the number of quality personal backing team GB who no one had heard of before.
Having an experienced DS in the car can be an advantage, but if races continue to do without race radio's that may not be an issue.

posted by festival [101 posts]
28th October 2012 - 17:48

2 Likes

Another caption competition for the photo?

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [963 posts]
28th October 2012 - 17:59

3 Likes

Simon_MacMichael wrote:
So, if some of the comments above are correct that the role of the DS in team tactics is overstated, then the essentials of the job seem to come down to driving at speed while simultaneously reading bits of paper, eating and talking into a handset?

Maybe Sky should start talent scouting in their fleet of satellite installation engineers...?

Great idea Simon. But to be honest I've already emailed my application and I dont any pesky engineering types getting in my way of getting the gig. Ye gods, how are people so ignorant about what the DSs do? Some people think the riders can just pony up to the race, and sort everything out themselves as well as race the bloody thing.

posted by Sam1 [219 posts]
28th October 2012 - 18:22

4 Likes

Am I missing something here? I quote Wikipedia:

"In 1989 Yates tested positive in a doping test in the first stage of Torhout-Werchter."

posted by chrismday [49 posts]
28th October 2012 - 19:18

3 Likes

Quelle surprise Rodders!

A huge sadness though for Yates et al. there was a time in 1988 / 89 when Sean Yates, Malcolm Elliot and Robert Millar were all that kept the Brit flame burning in continental racing.

posted by shockleader [20 posts]
28th October 2012 - 20:05

4 Likes

chrismday wrote:
Am I missing something here? I quote Wikipedia:

"In 1989 Yates tested positive in a doping test in the first stage of Torhout-Werchter."

Yes, context. A sample was positive, some say B sample negative, although it appears it was specifically a mix-up with labelling of samples that led to no disciplinary proceedings being instituted. As we've mentioned before, given this was public knowledge at the time, it seems inconceivable that British Cycling/Team Sky were unaware of the episode when they took Yates on.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8249 posts]
28th October 2012 - 20:45

3 Likes

Sky's policy of no drug association is right.

Are we just supposed to ignore what has happened and say "oh well, it was just Armstrong". No you get rid of these people now and start from fresh with zero drug policy. If it means the new DS' have to learn quickly so be it, but its better than sticking our heads in the sand isnt it or should we just ignore it and hope it goes away Thinking

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2809 posts]
28th October 2012 - 20:46

3 Likes

I quite fancy the job, perhaps I'll apply.

I'd have to tell them that I do have an association with drugs, but in my case I retired from cycle racing (as an amateur) in order to take a long course of steroids to treat an eye disease.

Shay

posted by shay cycles [234 posts]
28th October 2012 - 21:03

3 Likes

Shane Sutton had better go now or we'll know the omerta's still in place.....

posted by Jason Smythe [4 posts]
28th October 2012 - 21:15

3 Likes

Maybe Boardman could step up?

posted by stevebull-01 [62 posts]
28th October 2012 - 21:41

3 Likes

I have no doubt that Sky will have no trouble in attracting enough interest in filling the spaces left by Yates, Julich, et al. I'm also sure there are a few good DS's in the cycling scene who could honestly sign the relevant papers. Brailsford would have known what fallout was likely when the declarations were signed. I don't think there have been any surprises and it wouldn't surprise me either if they weren't already teeing up replacements.

posted by petejuk [25 posts]
28th October 2012 - 22:44

2 Likes

Hold firm Dave , you are going in the right direction!

posted by mick intherain [14 posts]
29th October 2012 - 0:51

3 Likes

The tip of another iceberg involving doping. Why would you leave the sport completely when you are at the pinnacle ? His past association with Armstrong during the doping era leads one to believe he is falling on his sword for Sky. The rats are abandoning ship all over the cycling universe. Seems Sky is trying to distance itself from being under the microscope. Don't think this story is over or going to end well.

Michael R. Smith

posted by American tifosi [37 posts]
29th October 2012 - 3:45

5 Likes

Simon_MacMichael wrote:
chrismday wrote:
Am I missing something here? I quote Wikipedia:

"In 1989 Yates tested positive in a doping test in the first stage of Torhout-Werchter."

Yes, context. A sample was positive, some say B sample negative, although it appears it was specifically a mix-up with labelling of samples that led to no disciplinary proceedings being instituted. As we've mentioned before, given this was public knowledge at the time, it seems inconceivable that British Cycling/Team Sky were unaware of the episode when they took Yates on.

OK, that makes sense; thanks.

posted by chrismday [49 posts]
29th October 2012 - 8:58

3 Likes

it seems inconceivable that British Cycling/Team Sky were unaware of the episode when they took Yates on.

Well a quick "background check" on wikipedia would have told them that much Smile

posted by atlaz [157 posts]
29th October 2012 - 10:48

3 Likes