Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford admits using Belgian doctor Geert Leinders was a “mistake”

“The whole thing is my responsibility... I should not have done it,” says Sky boss

by John Stevenson   July 9, 2013  

Sir Dave Brailsford (copyright otbphoto via Flickr)

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said yesterday that hiring Belgian doctor Geert Leinders, who is now under investigation for involvement in doping, was a mistake. Leinders denies any involvement in doping.

“The whole thing is my responsibility,” said Brailsford. “I will take that squarely on the chin. It’s something I regret, it’s a mistake.”

“I should not have done it. I made an error of judgment.”

Sky & Leinders

Leinders was brought into Team Sky on a freelance basis in 2010 after the death of soigneur Txema Gonzalez during the 2010 Tour of Spain (Vuelta a España). 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. Brailsford later said that the team’s original policy of employing only doctors from the United Kingdom who had no connection with road cycling in Europe left it ill-prepared to deal with some medical problems.

Team Sky criticised

In July last year Team Sky was severely criticised for employing Leinders after accusations emerged that he had been tolerant of doping while working for the Rabobank team.

Brailsford defended his decision to use Leinders at the time, saying: “I categorically, 100 per cent say that there’s no risk of anything untoward happening in this team since he been with us.

“I’ve seen nothing and neither have the full-time medics. I’d put my life on it. He’s done nothing wrong here, but we have a reputational risk.”

Leinders was not part of the team’s staff during Team Sky and Sir Bradley Wiggins’ domination of the 2012 Tour de France, and Sky severed relations with Leinders in October 2012.

Investigation

In February, Belgian prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into Leinders after various former Rabobank riders alleged he had been involved in doping at the team. Leinders left Rabobank in 2009 at around the time its management announced the implementation of a strict anti-doping policy.

In March former Rabobank rider Michael Rasmussen claimed that Leinders had organised doping while he was employed by the Dutch team. Rasmussen claimed he first underwent a blood transfusion in 2004, administered by Leinders.

“The courier dropped the blood bag off, he picked it up and took it to my room and infused it,” said Rasmussen.

Inevitable doping questions

With Team Sky rider Chris Froome leading the Tour de France, Brailsford said questions about doping were inevitable.

“At the end of the day we all know the level of suspicion that is in or around the sport and it’s only right that we have to sit here and answer questions,” Brailsford said.

“We have to take it on the chin, that’s the reality.”

7 user comments

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After the last stage the team look clean to me!

Big effort one day, suffering for it the next - looks like reality imho.

posted by Super Domestique [1574 posts]
9th July 2013 - 9:18

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Kennaugh crashed. Porte got dropped, but recovered and then managed to stay within a few minutes of the front runners for quite a while, which wasn't doing worse than some other GC contendors - until he was told/decided to switch off and save himself for another day.

posted by Paul J [509 posts]
9th July 2013 - 10:03

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So Brailsford admits hiring a doping doctor was his fault yet others had to leave the team while he stays? Par for the course in cycling, but in the real world he would've had to resign.

posted by Decster [246 posts]
9th July 2013 - 10:21

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Paul J wrote:
Kennaugh crashed. Porte got dropped, but recovered and then managed to stay within a few minutes of the front runners for quite a while, which wasn't doing worse than some other GC contendors - until he was told/decided to switch off and save himself for another day.

and kiryenka was told to get eliminated

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7203 posts]
9th July 2013 - 10:37

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Nice to hear a boss take responsibility, Leinders should have his day in court before we judge too quick, but it does look pretty bad if the testimony holds up.

posted by TeamCC [146 posts]
9th July 2013 - 10:39

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Paul J wrote:
Kennaugh crashed. Porte got dropped, but recovered and then managed to stay within a few minutes of the front runners for quite a while, which wasn't doing worse than some other GC contendors - until he was told/decided to switch off and save himself for another day.

Yeah, because it's not like the team leader was alone and looking like he was going to be assasinated by no less than 7 members of an almost pure climbing team. No panic.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2840 posts]
9th July 2013 - 11:08

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Sure, it didn't go to plan. Smile However, Porte's performance was not /that/ bad. Smile

posted by Paul J [509 posts]
9th July 2013 - 14:09

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