Former Team Sky doctor accused in Rabobank doping

Sky were forced to let him go over concerns about his past

by Sarah Barth   December 23, 2012  

Syringe

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."

5 user comments

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I am absolutely incredulous every time I hear that no doctors from outside cycling in the UK could be found with experience in dealing with infection/illness and allowing the patient to continue operating under load and at high intensity in extreme heat. It seems a bit of a nonsense given that for nearly 10 years the British Army has been developing world-class expertise in exactly that sort of remit in Iraq and Afghanistan while making quite a few redundancies. You'd expect there to be a doctor or two knocking around from that.

http://www.chasingwheels.com - Chasing Wheels, the journal of Britain's least competitive cyclist

posted by leguape [39 posts]
23rd December 2012 - 15:51

3 Likes

I'm confused. Wouldn't a policy of only employing Doctors from the UK be illegal under UK race discrimination and EU employment law?

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
23rd December 2012 - 19:30

5 Likes

Probably because almost everyone is cycling is employed as a contractor rather than employee so the usual rules around recruiting etc don't apply?

posted by Bigpikle [66 posts]
24th December 2012 - 9:18

4 Likes

That's because it's an excuse, a cover story. The problem is when the full truth is not given people start to fill in the blanks. Does anyone know if Sky has a no-needle policy?

posted by daddyELVIS [413 posts]
24th December 2012 - 11:13

4 Likes

Yes, it does.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3218 posts]
24th December 2012 - 12:39

4 Likes