A Dutch newspaper has said that Geert Leinders, a doctor who worked with Team Sky, and before that with the former Rabobank cycling team played a central role in doping by the Rabobank riders.
The allegations in the newspaper NRC Handelsblad is based on new information, says SuperSport, that Leinders was the doctor referred to by the American rider Levi Leipheimer, who rode for Rabobank in 2002-2004, in a testimony to the US Anti-Doping Agency that helped to bring down Lance Armstrong.
Following the Armstrong report, the Rabobank team sponsorship ended. Rabobank the bank pulled out this autumn, saying it was impossible for cycling to become a "clean and fair" sport in te wake of the US Postal scandal, and they briefly become The Former Team Rabobank.
Now, in the absence of a title sponsor, the team will start the 2013 season as Blanco Pro Cycling, describing itself as “A new team, a fresh start, a blank canvas.”
Leinders was brought into the Team Sky set-up following the death of soigneur Txema Gonzalez during the 2010 Vuelta. The 43-year-old Spaniard died from septic shock after contracting a bacterial infection, his illness coinciding with an unrelated virus that swept through the team’s riders.
The team withdrew from the race following the death of Gonzalez, and Brailsford has acknowledged that its original policy of employing only doctors from the United Kingdom who had no connection with road cycling in Europe meant it was ill-prepared to deal with issues such as how best to treat a rider suffering from illness while attempting to carry on cycling in soaring temperatures such as those seen in that year’s Vuelta.
Leinders was one of four doctors employed on a part-time basis by Team Sky to help it deal with the rigours of its racing programme, with its medical staff headed by a full-time doctor from the UK, Alan Farrell.
Earlier this year Dave Brailsford defended the doctor, saying: "I categorically, 100 per cent say that there's no risk of anything untoward happening in this team since he [Leinders] has been with us."
But in October after Sky instated their zero-tolerance anti-doping contract and Brailsford came under increasing pressure to investigate him, a team spokesman said: "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."
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.