The fallout from the USADA report continues

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10/30/2012| 1 comment
by Neil Browne
Team Sky Procycling's Dave Brailsford. Did someone say a Spanish Inquisition? Fotoreporter Sirotti

The fallout from the USADA report continues

Did someone say a Spanish Inquisition?

It’s another week and another round of doping drama in cycling. I feel like this is just a continuing soap opera and each week we are left with a cliff hanger. Who will admit to doping next? Which team will lose a sponsor? Why has Lance Armstrong’s twitter account fallen silent – did Landis hack it?

If I had to give an award for the biggest knee jerk reaction it would have to go to Team Sky. Sure, Rabobank was up for consideration in the “knee jerk reaction category” after they decided to walk away from their role as title sponsor, but Sky edged them out with the amount of internal housecleaning they have done this past week.

Some of it, quite frankly, was needed. The team doctor was Geert Leinders, a man who had ties to the Rabobank squad during the Michael Rasmussen days and was with the Dutch team until 2009. Just to refresh your memory this was a time when, according to its former team director Theo de Rooy, “If it happened (doping), it was a deliberate decision by the medical staff.” That’s a bit suspicious sounding.

Back in July team principal Dave Brailsford said there was no concern hiring the Belgian doctor with a spotty past. In fact Brailsford told The Times, “I categorically, 100 per cent say there is no risk of anything untoward since he’s been with us. But there is reputational risk.”

Turns out that there was some “reputational risk” said Brailsford who also stated the team would never hire a former cycling doctor. He issued a press release stating that Dr. Leinders’ contract for 2013 would not be renewed.

At the Team Sky headquarters alarm bells must have gone off as Brailsford took it a step further and said that the team was going to interview everyone on the team and if anyone had any connections to doping, even if it was in the past, they would be terminated.

If you’ve read the riders’ affidavits in the USADA report you might have noticed several names have been redacted giving some paragraphs a checkerboard appearance. In the place of names there’s “rider 4” or “other 2.” It didn’t take too long before the collective mind of the cycling forums dissected and evaluated the darkened names and started to put names with the redacted. It became a game of cycling bingo. “Rider 9 is ... Matt White! Do we have a bingo?!”

There on the Velorooms forum in the “doping” section is listed “other 8.” The speculation was “other 8” is Dr. Leinders who is also suspected of selling EPO to Levi Leipheimer (who has since been fired from his team Omega Pharma-QuickStep). So no big surprise that the doctor’s contract wasn’t renewed for the 2013 season. But this was the first domino that started the Team Sky housecleaning.

Looking at the redacted names list people speculated that “rider 4” was Bobby Julich. I’ve only interviewed Julich once and had passing conversations with him when he was working for Team CSC, so I really can’t say

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XpertNtraining|

I get the sense that Neil will be forgiving every rider, doctor or team director that has been connected with a doping past, as long as they were ones that previously gave Neil an interview or the time of day. Lance isn't one of those riders, Neil treats Lance like a bitterly divorced spouse.