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“I haven’t got a magic wand to come and convince all you guys.”

When Team Sky’s Chris Froome won yesterday’s stage of the Tour de France on the top of the iconic climb of Mont Ventoux, he and team principal Sir Dave Brailsford knew that the rest day press conference would be dominated by questions about doping. Sure enough, they came out with all guns blazing this morning. Froome repeated that he is not cheating and Sir Dave challenged reporters to tell him what it would take to convince them.

Initially, it seemed Froome wanted to sidestep the issue though. Asked about the suspicions that he might be doping, he said: “I can only be open and say to people, I know within myself that I’ve trained extremely hard to get here. All the results I get I know are my own results... Outside of that, I can’t talk about that; I can’t talk about that other stuff. I know what I’ve done to get here and I’m extremely proud of what I’ve done.”

But them a comparison with Lance Armstrong got Froome’s back up. “Lance won those races but that aside, to compare me with Lance... I mean Lance cheated, I’m not cheating. End of story.”

Planned performance, Ventoux recce

Sir Dave Brailsford picked up the baton shortly afterwards.

“We planned that performance for quite some time,” he aid. “Chris has been out to Ventoux to recce the climb, thought very carefully about how to ride it, how to ride as a team. And when you see that performance unfolding in front of you exactly as had been planned for some time, and Chris rode so fantastically at the end to win the stage, it was quite an emotional thing to watch.

“And the first thing that crosses my mind, having jumped in the air and punched the air, is not: right, that’s my five minutes of joy gone, let’s get on to the doping questions. Which happens everyday.”

“You’re asking me, how can I prove to you that we are not doping? You’re all asking the same questions. We wrack our brains every day.”

A WADA solution

Brailsford reiterated his reluctance to release his riders’ power data, but suggested that perhaps monitoring of the team on the lines of the biological passport system would work.

“We’ve been thinking about the biological passport and how that works with an appointed panel of experts... If you extrapolate that thinking forward I think we’d be quite happy, we’d actually encourage, maybe WADA to appoint an expert and they could have everything that we’ve got. They could come and live with us, they could have all of our information, see all of our data, have access to every single training file we’ve got. We could then compare the training files to the blood data, to weight... All of that type of information they could capture on a consistent basis.

“And it seems to me WADA are a good body to sit and analyse all that data. And they then could tell the world, and you, whether they think this is credible or not.”

Brailsford then issued his challenge to the world’s cycling press.

Get your heads together

“Rather than asking us all the time to come up with some creative way to prove that we’re innocent, why couldn’t you... get yourselves together ... and you tell me, what would prove it for you, what could we do? ... Get your heads together and come to me and say, well this is what we think we would like in order to prove to you beyond reasonable doubt that we are not doping.”

“Bottom line is, it’s a rest day, it’s 10 o’ clock in the morning and I’m trying to defend somebody who’s doing nothing wrong. I’m quite happy to do it, and I’m more than happy to try to convince you guys that we’re not doing anything wrong, but I need a little bit of help. I think, in coming up with a way about how the hell we do it.

As for Froome, he was clearly angry and frustrated at the direction the conference was going.

“I just think it’s quite sad that we’re sitting here the day after the biggest victory of my life yesterday, quite a historic win, talking about doping,” he said.

“And quite frankly, I mean, my team-mates and I, we’ve slept on volcanoes to get ready for this, we’ve been away from home for months, training together, just working our arses off to get here, and here I am, basically being accused of being a cheat and a liar and... that’s not cool.”

And with that, Froome left the room to talk to the TV crews that were waiting outside the Sky team bus.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

65 comments

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SevenHills [205 posts] 3 years ago
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And that Lance is the legacy you have left our sport. I hope you are pleased with yourself you lying cheating bastard as everyone else now has to try and prove innocence which is nigh on impossible.

Well done!

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Decster [246 posts] 3 years ago
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Thoma Frei thinks he knows the answer.

"Thomas Frei ‏@thomasfrei

@PaulKimmage @DavidWalshST you guys heard already from Gas6 (Growth arrest-specific 6)?"

A better substance than EPO

http://www.vib.be/en/news/Pages/Progress-toward-an-alternative-for-EPO--...

Will this be causing red faces at SkyBC?

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Decster [246 posts] 3 years ago
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Aint easy to prove your innocent when you hire doping doctors for your team and then pretend you didn't know they were a doping doctor.  26

Have riders come from the grupetto to win GTs and think no one will be suspicious.

Dont release any info relating to riders.

Team Telekom had journalists embedded at the TdF when they had a team wide systematic doping program. Walsh is a patsy for Sky.

We have been here before and we already know the ending. Sky are doping.

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thebungle [103 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm sure there are many, many completely legitamit medical products out there that if you read about what they did would sound like a cyclists dream ticket.

In fact, next time you're in Boots have a look a the rear of the iron supplements...

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s_lim [177 posts] 3 years ago
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Ref the Gas6 comment - surely it's not a test for EPO perse, rather a hermaocrit level that's the giveaway?

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Trackal [16 posts] 3 years ago
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Gas 6 would have only a marginal effect on cycling performance as its main benefit over EPO is that it raises red blood cell production back to normal and does not /cannot produce an excess of red cells. EPO 'works' for cyclists because it allows for a greater production of red cells which means more oxygen for the muscles. If a rider were highly fatigued GA6 would raise his/her red blood cell count back to normal but it does not work at the same speed as EPO or a blood transfusion so it would require a course of several days of administration to have any effect.
Sky's doping secret is what Arsene Wenger referred to in football as Money doping. Buy the best riders, give them the best back up staff, hire the best sports scientists and you will get the results. They will continue to get the best results until a sheikh Mansour or equivalent gets interested in pro cycling and buys an equivalent team.

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jasecd [394 posts] 3 years ago
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Decster - I've seen a number of your comments over the last few days making definitive statements that Sky are doping. You have no way of knowing this and you seem to revel in negativity and cynicism.

After Festina, Cofidis, Armstrong and the myriad other doping scandals to engulf the sport I can totally understand having doubts and the need for Sky to answer many questions but you're confusing conjecture with fact. There is no evidence that any Sky rider is doping.

Frankly, your cynicism is pretty ugly - I would rather watch Froome's stellar performances and believe in them than assume everything I see is a flat out lie. I'd be gutted if I was proved wrong but who wants to view the world through such cycnical eyes?

Now for some conjecture of my own - no doubt your response will be that I am naive and kidding myself. So be it, I think I've covered my stance above.

It really does seem like you're more concerned with being contrary and occupying some mythical high ground than the real state of the sport. It's sad that this is what the widespread cheating in the sport has done to some of the fans but drawing conclusions without evidence is unfair and a real leap from simply asking questions.

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notfastenough [3684 posts] 3 years ago
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Everyone knows its an arms race between the dopers and the authorities, its probably realistic to think that the latter are a step behind in some respects. As a sport, we are now at the point where, if you dope, you WILL be caught, because samples are being kept and retested to the end of time as the science advances. So, it's a question of whether you think Froome, Brailsford etc would be shortsighted enough to dope now, for a few years glory, before being caught in the longer term. They don't come across as arrogant, and certainly not as stupid, so what other explanations are there? People aren't just accusing them of doping, but being f***ing stupid enough to think they could get away with it indefinitely.

As for transparency, DB was perhaps naive to think they could publish power data without giving away too much info to rivals, and stuff that's open to interpretation by any dimwit with a PHd in pseudoscience with dumbf***ery on the tinternet. Which is why his suggestion of a WADA observer is a good one.

Apply all this to your own job. If I put months of work into something which turned out awesome, only for people to make snide comments and suggest I cheated, I'd be mightily pissed off.

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therealsmallboy [167 posts] 3 years ago
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To be fair, Sky do seem to do be totally and utterly committed to scientifically improving their riders. No other team has it down to such a tee.

Very specific training, lifestyle and diet programs with one goal: speed. Less weight, more power means winning on the big hills. It works.

Personally, I don't think they're doping, but thanks to Armstrong et al, I can forgive the cycling press for behaving the way they do. The french journos said for years and years that Lance had to be guilty and that his super-human efforts were just impossible.

Having been at it for so long and be told at the end of it all that they were correct, it's no surprise that Froome Dog is getting it from every angle.

Poor bugger.

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EvansYelhsa [12 posts] 3 years ago
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If you look at Froomes palmeres you can see he was winning minor tours right up until his second in the vuelta. He also could just sit on the font for a race like we see kiryienka or Stannard do day in day out, all that strength from smashing into the wind and the fact he ways 60 odd kilos means he's going to be a phenomenal climber. People need to stop assuming that our beautiful sport is full of doping. We have the strictest doping laws of all sport. Yet we are still the ones that are branded with being a doper as soon as you get one significant win

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 3 years ago
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I don't think Sky are doping, after a big effort they clearly need a couple of "rest days" before the next big attack, the press is then full of how the Sky team are coming apart! They then put in a big effort and the press is full of doping questions.

It seems to me that Sky have a talented group of riders, who they very carefully train and manage to get the best from them, coupled to a VERY well organised and planned support team and strategy. I think this is the key to their success.

Lance Drugstrong has a lot to answer for, I hope he is proud of his legacy!  22

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Ghedebrav [1100 posts] 3 years ago
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Ultra-cynicism is clearly the new blind faith amongst cyclo-trolls.

It's rhetorically a very safe position to say that Sky are doping, because even if you're wrong cycling (and I'd widen that out to professional sport in general) leaves a lot of room for scepticism.

If I had to put money on it, I'd say that Sky are racing clean. Of course there's room for doubt, but the tone of the discourse from the doubters is a bit irritating, not to say patronising (essentially "They're all doping, it's obvious, and you're an idiot if you think otherwise").

I'll always listen to reasonable arguments supported by robust data; like most pro-cycling fans I'm not hugely patriotic and I don't support a particular team. But bald assertions are pointless. And annoying.

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JonMack [167 posts] 3 years ago
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Surely Quintana must be doping too, as he was able to stick with Froome up until the last ~2km?

All the cynicism is just boring, it actually puts me off talking to and associating with other cyclists, which is such a great message to be sending to the people who might want to get involved with the sport after catching it on TV for the last few weeks - "there's no point in ever trying to be the best rider you can be because everyone will just assume you are on drugs". Yeah great work everyone.

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robthehungrymonkey [150 posts] 3 years ago
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JonMack wrote:

Surely Quintana must be doping too, as he was able to stick with Froome up until the last ~2km?

All the cynicism is just boring, it actually puts me off talking to and associating with other cyclists, which is such a great message to be sending to the people who might want to get involved with the sport after catching it on TV for the last few weeks - "there's no point in ever trying to be the best rider you can be because everyone will just assume you are on drugs". Yeah great work everyone.

JonMack, you beat me to it. It's not the doping history that's depressing me about this sport it's the commenters and journos.

I can completely understand why sky don't want to publish power data, I wouldn't! They have spent years (before and after they became a world tour team) perfecting the science behind it. And are the only team to have done it so systematically.

Brailsford has also proven that they they are the masters of peaking at the right time, proven by subsequent Olympic campaigns.

I expect their riders to be the best prepared, and riding at their physical limit AND potential. And as Geraint Thomas said, what the winner of a Grand Tour is doing, is NOT NORMAL. You have to be superhuman to be achieving what they do.

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djc1245 [23 posts] 3 years ago
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Would have thought the press would have known who was doping. They seem to be hacking everyone's phones and emails and making the news up as they go along.
Don't see them camping outside Usain Bolts house and he beat two confirmed dopers

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seven [150 posts] 3 years ago
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notfastenough wrote:

People aren't just accusing them of doping, but being f***ing stupid enough to think they could get away with it indefinitely.

+1 - I'd even take the "indefinitely" off the end. If they are doping (I choose to believe they're not, for so many reasons) they will be caught and caught soon.

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dog_film [8 posts] 3 years ago
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Beautifully put,Sir. It's sad really. I watched that stage twice and felt great for him. Maybe he's just that good? Well done Froome and f*#k you Armstrong!

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Parkaboy [13 posts] 3 years ago
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It is very difficult to believe people are clean if we go on past form. If we went back ten years and changed the names at the top of the page to Armstrong and Bruyneel it would look pretty much the same, including the arguments and counter arguments in the comments.
We had the small gains argument then too, with the aerodynamic jersey cloth, the many hours in the wind tunnel, pictures of Armstrong weighing his food, the helmet design...etc.
There was the 'I work harder than anyone else' 'I spend so much time away from my family'
Maybe this time it's true.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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Sleeping on volcanoes? Magic wands?
I dont know about EPO's but it sounds the SKY lot may have been on something a bit more psychotropic.
 4

In other news - journalists on the whole are fat, lazy, ignorant, moral free, hypocritical scumbags who cant get proper jobs. They should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

(present company excepted of course road.cc hacks!)

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Not KOM [79 posts] 3 years ago
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banzicyclist2 wrote:

I don't think Sky are doping, after a big effort they clearly need a couple of "rest days" before the next big attack, the press is then full of how the Sky team are coming apart! They then put in a big effort and the press is full of doping questions.

This, this, a hundred times this. This is why I think Sky aren't doping, because they are clearly taking it easier on some days and frankly, dropping like flies when they are on the big climbs. They are clearly dying on the hills!

It's the other reason why I don't think Cadel Evans dopes - because he looked like he was going to die on some of the hills!

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darenbrett [19 posts] 3 years ago
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Decster wrote:

Thoma Frei thinks he knows the answer.

"Thomas Frei ‏@thomasfrei

@PaulKimmage @DavidWalshST you guys heard already from Gas6 (Growth arrest-specific 6)?"

A better substance than EPO

http://www.vib.be/en/news/Pages/Progress-toward-an-alternative-for-EPO--...

Will this be causing red faces at SkyBC?

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mattsccm [330 posts] 3 years ago
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Forgive the press!!
I wouldn't forgive any element of the press any what so ever.
Self-serving ********
However I would go with DB. The press and the doubters should shut up until they have answer.

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darenbrett [19 posts] 3 years ago
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From the way Decster is talking, he clearly reckons Chris Froome is doping!! why dont you provide your factual evidence to the world doping agency, instead of commenting on other peoples suspicions, i myself think your wild accusations are based purely because of your dislike for Team Sky or british cycling, if it was any other rider giving the same performance, you would say nothing, for one thing im sure, if you made a personal allegation public through a media outlet, giving your full name address and contact details, directly to chris froome, youd have a legal challenge on your hands!! but like so many, very brave to cast aspersions and non factual allegations hiding behind a keyboard!!

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ratattat [52 posts] 3 years ago
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HaHaHa !!!! You cheating foriegners have been wining for years by cheating ,waving your flags and cheering home your dopped up Cuntador ect ect ect and now you cant win fuck all your crying...give  4 me a break .Dont you know when the British want something no one in the world is better at getting it  1 Sky no1.. Cuntador Valverde schleck all drug banned has beens

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darenbrett [19 posts] 3 years ago
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therealsmallboy wrote:

To be fair, Sky do seem to do be totally and utterly committed to scientifically improving their riders. No other team has it down to such a tee.

Very specific training, lifestyle and diet programs with one goal: speed. Less weight, more power means winning on the big hills. It works.

Personally, I don't think they're doping, but thanks to Armstrong et al, I can forgive the cycling press for behaving the way they do. The french journos said for years and years that Lance had to be guilty and that his super-human efforts were just impossible.

Having been at it for so long and be told at the end of it all that they were correct, it's no surprise that Froome Dog is getting it from every angle.

Poor bugger.

i think your bang on!!

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Mostyn [396 posts] 3 years ago
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A super human achievement; and questions will be asked? and asked again! Sky seem to be this years TDF spoiler.

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davkt [41 posts] 3 years ago
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Lets see, he won by 30sec or so, after almost 6hrs racing with at least the top 15 coming in within 1% more of that time. Hardly a performance way outside what anyone else did, more like 15 runners finishing a 100m with 1m of each other!

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jugster [40 posts] 3 years ago
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Watching that stage gave me goosebumps, I believe the right kind of history was being made. So sad that doubt seems to be the default reaction thanks to some of those who went before & basically pissed all over the sport...and that is not cool.

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Colin Peyresourde [1724 posts] 3 years ago
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notfastenough wrote:

Apply all this to your own job. If I put months of work into something which turned out awesome, only for people to make snide comments and suggest I cheated, I'd be mightily pissed off.

"I have never taken performance enhancing drugs". It's thing that is trawled out by every doper ever. I'm not saying that this condemns team Sky, but it's a record that has been spun over and over.

The cynics are correct to be cynical. Recent history says that there is a high likelihood that the winner of the TdF will have doped. And you know what, it was all the idiots who lapped up Lances 'I feel sorry for those that can't believe' cr@p that pissed me off as much as LA himself. They were as bad as he was in some ways. They didn't question him, and what he claimed and allowed him to spin on.

I admit that I don't like the way that Froome is unable to at least live in the moment without it being tainted - after all there is no proof. And you have to hope that for prosperities sake we find out which, categorically. I appreciate that being too cynical spoils things, but perhaps we need also to keep a healthy level of doubt. I am heartened that Team Sky have shown suffering. It makes them human. But equally, Froome has not suffered in the same way.

What I would like to see it the blood passport results. I would also like to see hematocrit results on a regular basis. What we know is that hematocrit falls, we also know about the predominance of young blood cells and old blood cells in clean blood and doped blood. But I don't see any of that being dished out - just power readings, which do little because it's the underlying mechanics that matter - though it is a clue at least.

One thing we know for sure is that no one dopes to finish last.

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charliepalooza [30 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm in no way acting as an apologist for Lance Armstrong. The guy was a cheat and let down a huge number of people (fans – myself included, sponsors, team mates, other competitors) but to blame the constant questioning of Team Sky solely on Armstrong is ridiculous.

Doping has been going on in our sport for decades. On yesterday's TDF stage we were constantly reminded of the Tommy Simpson tragedy - 46 years ago and drugs were involved there! This was not just an Armstrong issue.

We need to move on from the whole Armstrong affair and more collective responsibility needs to be taken by the current pro teams to prove they are clean. In an ideal world, it shouldn't be necessary but it is an unfortunate legacy of decades - not just the last decade or so – of cheating.

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