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  • David

    Sky kept this under their hat, no doubt they’ll explain it away. Likely they’ll be an object of hate at the TDF this year. Again.

    • bigringjim

      To be honest I don’t think this is cycling specific. This is happening at every level in every sport. In Australia we have had amateur footballers drop dead from taking methamphetamine!

      And even outside sport, a really large proportion of young people are willing to buy steroids over the internet just so they look good at a music festival.

      • David

        Yeah, way of the world, I guess; just doesn’t sit right with me though

  • Neuron1

    As anybody/everybody reads this story, just replace the name Team Sky with any other. Katusha, Astana, BMC, Orica, Movistar, Trek and so on. The outrage pouring out of every corner of the cycling world would be overwhelming. Why has Sky along with British Cycling been given a pass to this point, as if they and nobody else in professional cycling are the keepers of honesty, purity and all that is good in sport. The Sky defenders will say that all the other teams have fromer dopers in their ranks, well let me inform you, so did Sky. Just becasue they claim to be clean, doesn’t make it so. Just because they weren’t part of the old culture when doping was rampant, doesn’t mean they didn’t invent a new way to do so but with the cover of: TUEs, needles prior to competition, using drugs intentionally for their side effects, etc. Ferrari was the first of his generation, Brailsford, Frreman and Kerrison the first of theirs. It is time for Michael Cookson and the UCI to stop being apologists for Sky and BC, empower an investigation and recuse themselves so it can proceed without interference. If Astana was “drinking at the last chance saloon”, without evidence of team malfesence, then Sky has been bellying up to the bar to drink their fill, while the sheriff looks the other way.

    • Neuron1

      BTW, the fact that Sky are consistently winning with this watered down form of doping indicates to me that the peloton is a much cleaner place than it was even a few years ago.I don’t think that triamcinalone and NAC trump EPO and testosterone. However, the fact that they are capable of crushing most of the rest of the peloton when they are commited to winning a multiple day race, indicates that it is effective.

      • Ragtag

        Indeed it is not believable that without such ‘programs’, they have some secret sauce which makes their domestiques also match the lead riders in other teams. Marginal gains. HAH.

        • Will

          Sky have a massive budget and are able to hire people who would be team leaders as domestiques on other teams. This is all common knowledge – Sky publish their budgets and it’s subjected to some very in-depth analysis by INRNG and so on.

          • Neuron1

            We are told this frequently. Then why is it that they have won only the TDF (of GTs) and only with their British riders? Where was Porte in the TDF after Froome crashed out, 2014t? Nieve in the Giro after Landa got sick, 2016? Porte in the Giro, 2015? The results don’t bear out the explanation. And we are still waiting for the published paper on Henao’s unusual blood values. There are so few Colombian’s and altitude dwellers to study in the pro peloton that Sky must be searching feverishly to find comparisons.

            • Will

              I’m not saying that they’re clean when it comes to their domestiques. Simply that the large budget means that they can hire riders as domestiques who are the same calibre as lead riders in other teams – the variations in teams budgets mean it’s not a level playing field.

              Sometime’s the simplest answer is the best, but given Sky’s lack of transparency and record keeping we’re unlikely to know the truth.

              • Neuron1

                Agreed.

    • Greg

      “without evidence of team malfesence”

      There was definitely evidence in the case of Astana. Otherwise I agree with you.

      • BenW

        x2, Astana were a whole other kettle of fish, and a particularly pungent one.

      • Neuron1

        The distant past when the team was run by Brunyeel was a long time ago in cycling terms, and I agree they were dirty. I was referring to the study by the Swiss sports institute(ISSUL) that showed no team involvement in the Iglinsky brothers EPO use and no organized doping. I think that Vino and the entire team structure have been scared straight due to the oversight, which is a good thing.

      • The entire SKY saga smacks of BigTex and Co when it comes to fans – they just don’t want to admit they’ve been conned. The con artists know the last thing you want to happen is your “mark” to find out he’s been conned, so SKY will bob and weave, distract and disrupt but eventually the truth will come out, same as Tex and Co.
        The bigger question is will the cheats be allowed to keep the profits from their cons? Tex’ court case is moving forward – how long before they come after SKY and how long will the Murdoch’s want to have all this negative publicity around their SKY brand?
        I hope it won’t it be too long… in either case.

  • Luke Bartlett

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kfx80H3N1g

    The English winning at sport is never a good thing.

  • zosim

    Certainly seems that they have a lot of skeletons coming out of the closet but nothing that points to Team Sky themselves having been pushing this sort of behaviour. Their lack of transparency is their biggest issue at the moment, not what was done it seems.

    That said, it looks like Edmondson is signalling the end of his career with this (NFTO are defunct in 2017) as I’d guess UKAD will want to talk to him about this.

  • Peter Il Pirata

    This is a bit of a beat-up.

    Dr Peters’ professional medical opinion is that the rider’s mental state dictated the approach they did underscored by the fact that they didn’t have proof contrary to his denial at the time (which would have been followed by any self-respecting employer). I thought a little more context from the source would be useful, seeing as its woefully absent from this opinion piece:

    “He fell apart at the seams quite dramatically. A number of things I asked him during that interview really alarmed me,” Peters said. “I was now in a position where I can say the welfare of the athlete was number one. Obviously, I’m working with the team and anti-doping is a secondary issue but a really important one, and we have to address it, so Josh explained that he had never used needles before.

    “He was in a very stressful situation. He was aware that his role in the team was in jeopardy. We sent off the vials, there was only one that was open, the rest were sealed. They turned out to be vitamins which you can buy over the counter, so I asked him ‘why on earth would you?’ And he had not done any injection, he said he did not know how to use it. All he said was, ‘I did not know what to do so I left it’.

    “The second point from me is, let’s say we went ahead at that point because obviously I do not want to cover anything up – there is no way I’m going to do that. But what is the consequence of him suddenly being exposed if I’m right and he’s not well? The reason I stopped it in its tracks is my concern has always got to be for the welfare of the individual. I think I’d definitely have told them if I thought this young man was trying to cheat, but I don’t think he was doing that. I think it was a panic reaction.

    “He is making very poor decisions because he is not well, and therefore we need to treat him first of all and then get to the bottom of it. But actually to put him through some kind of investigation or disciplinary at that point could’ve been very serious and damaged this lad’s health.”

    So, the most they had was that needles were found, they investigated and found that the vials contained vitamins, that one of the vials had been opened, and he denied using the needles. SKY satisfied themselves that there was no anti-doping violation, and would have been failing in their duty of care to their employee (who obviously was not in a healthy mental state) if they reported it in those circumstances. The fact that Edmonson is saying different now is irrelevant to the actions they took at the time; you’d have to consider whether Edmonson would be here today if the alternative course of action was taken at the time.

    • Greg

      “SKY satisfied themselves that there was no anti-doping violation”

      Maybe we can ask them again if they’re still satisfied, then just move along if they say, “Yes?”

      • Ragtag

        yeah I think people are in a denial mode on Sky. Rather like bury their head in the sand. This team is clearly now a STINK

        • jules

          everything that Sky have been accused of is of a lower order of magnitude than proven violations committed in other teams, whose riders simply do the time and everyone walks around with their head held high as if they took their punishment and that’s the end of it.

          I agree Sky has problems – Wiggo’s triamcinolone is perhaps the biggest one – but we’re not talking high octane doping. not yet anyway.

          I mean Valverde is still winning races, for crying out loud. And we can’t help but love him for it, even if we know how he’s doing it.

          • gunnar1981

            It’s the double-standard that really ticks people off. Claiming to be cleaner than clean, holier-than-thou and then suppressing things that happen(ed). Zero tolerance blah blah blah, and now anecdotes like these popping up. There’s no smoke without fire, and even if Sky are doing things clean, the fact that it’s so cloak-and-dagger means the cloud of suspicion won’t be lifted anytime soon

    • jules

      umm.. my view is that Sky actually come off quite well here.

      look, they seem to have broken the rules – strictly speaking. let’s remind ourselves people – this is pro cycling. if breaking the rules offends you so much, you are following the wrong sport.

      the real point for me is that Sky seem to have done just about everything in the spirit of preventing their riders from doping here. they didn’t encourage it, they acted decisively as soon as they discovered it. it wasn’t even doping in the proper sense. but – they didn’t report it. geez – is it that hard to understand why not? they would have, and now are being crucified. we all have that reaction to embarrassing or incriminating evidence we hold on ourselves. the notion of demanding that someone come straight out and say “look! we accidentally broke the rules! look over here!” – most people would think you were nuts.

      • Ragtag

        wow “if breaking the rules offends you so much, you are following the wrong sport.” then why even go through the motions of pretense. Just do it openly. Let everyone thrown in needles, drugs etc etc. May the best man win then…. Its more fair in your opinion I am sure?

        • jules

          I didn’t say that breaking rules made it OK, just that the line dividing following and breaking them doesn’t adequately describe whether someone is a cheat or not.

          breaking the rules by taking EPO is definitely not OK.

          breaking them by injecting vitamins is also bad, but a lot less bad than taking EPO. stopping a rider from injecting vitamins but not telling the UCI etc. is even more marginal.

      • Mark Blackwell

        Agree. A teammate found his stash, laid it out in the room, took a photo and sent it to management.. That’s a pretty aggressive move and sounds like close to zero tolerance to me. If you found a work colleague cheating in some way, would you have the guts to do what the teammate did?

        Not trying to downplay or deny the surrounding shitstorm that makes this a story. Sky done wrong, no question.

    • Speckled Jim

      Yes – this adds some of the balance that is sorely missing from this report, as well as others, which just want headlines linking “Sky”, “Doping” and “Scandal” (with bonus points for “Reputation” and “Tatters”).

      For the record also:

      1. none of the injections Edmondson has admitting injecting are prohibited substances. ie there was no doping
      2. Edmondson’s breach of the no-needles policy was referred to management by a team-mate, via their whistle-blower process. This supports the view that Team Sky’s anti-doping culture is taken seriously by other riders, and that there are robust processes for management to be made aware and act on allegations of rule-breaches
      3. Edmondson sourced his Tramadol externally. It was not provided by Team Sky doctors.
      4. Tramadol is not a prohibited substance
      5. Despite the fact that it is not prohibited, Team Sky’s internal policy requires that Tramadol must not be used in races

      Taking into account the above, there is nothing in this report that damages Sky’s reputation in the way the reporter would like to infer. It is, however, a rather sad tale of a young rider struggling to succeed at an elite level, making some bad decisions (though they could have been much worse), and suffering considerable mental stress as a result. Unfortunately, elite sport is uncompromising in that way, but the human element shouldn’t be overlooked in the rush to fuel a scandal.

      • BenW

        That’s my reading on this particular part of it too, unfortunately others (yes you, Sean Ingle at the Guardian) don’t seem to see it that way. It looks to me like Sky did all they could to protect a kid with mental health issues from unravelling further, rather than covering anything up.

      • Patrick Murphy

        That is mostly all true but what the whiter than white team should have done was tell people at the time, or at least shortly after when they have done a full investigation about the incident. Instead they chose to cover it up which leads to speculation and as we all know, speculation equals guilt.

        • Tom Wells

          “as we all know, speculation equals guilt.” – no it doesn’t. It might to some, but that’s naive and more than a bit stupid.

          We need to remember that these cycling teams are a business or (at the very least) supporting businesses / bike manufacturers. If they were to report every little incident it would tarnish their brand regardless of how honest they would be, so it doesn’t make good business sense to them.

          Team Sky are being thrown under the bus at the moment but it’s silly to think that the other teams in the peloton are any better. If one team is doing something, they all will be to a certain degree.

          • Patrick Murphy

            I agree with your point about other teams not coming under the same scrutiny, it’d be foolish to think they don’t have something to hide but the issue with Sky is the ethos and straplines they set in place. Whiter than white, transparent, or whatever other term you choose to pick from means that they are held to account more than most.

            I actually don’t believe “it would tarnish their brand regardless of how honest they would be” in the long term, they would merely be sticking to what they told everyone they would do. If we take this at face value, I understand why they may have delayed an announcement on this particular case, the rider was clearly in need of care, but it should have been made public by them some time ago and not a journalist with the bit between his teeth.

            I am so down the middle with all this, on one hand I have a feeling Sky are up to something that really stinks, whether that is doping, motors or hiding behind all these marginal gains mantra but on the other hand I want to believe in them. Sadly the more recent stories are pushing me to the former.

          • will59

            The reason for the constant attacks on Sky is that they presented themselves as something above being merely a business protecting their brand. They preached from the rooftops and were happy to bask in the glow of goodwill for their ethical stand against doping. Since it’s emerged that it’s all been a charade you should understand why the knives are out for them.

      • Tom Wells

        Finally some sense in the comment section!

  • Unbelievable

    You know, i think i just don’t care anymore. I’m still riding my bike almost every day, as i have for 25+ years, but i can’t find it in myself to be interested in the Pro racing. Over the years over watched more than 20 Tours de France on TV, and (only) one in person. I’ve been to the Olympics and the Austral Wheel Race and the Nationals, and the World Champs, and the bay crits, and the Herald Sun Tour, etc etc. But now all we read about is drug scandals and they are not even scandals any more. I just don’t care. Pro cycling – you’ve ruined your sport. Sponsors – you’re doing the right thing by pulling out. I’m off to ride my mountain bike.

    Regards,
    An ex-cycling fan.

    P.s. see you again in July when i forget all this and get sucked back in to Le Tour. ????

    • Wily_Quixote

      I nearly agree with you. Except I won’t be back in July. I’ll be mountain biking when the TdF highlights are on and even if Porte is in yellow every stage could not give a rats anus about pro cycling.

      • zosim

        Yet you’re reading these articles and commenting on them ;)

        • Wily_Quixote

          After the events of the 90s and 2000s in procycling i have become interested in doping in all sport.

          I remain very interested on the topic that’s tainting my sport, given that amateurs in my area are self disclosing use of testosterone and epo in the higher grades and given that I am a health researcher.

          So no, procycling doesnt interest me, in the same way that world championship wrestling doesnt interest me. But I still care about the sport and how doping in the elite ranks affects the amateur sport and the guinea pigs taking the substances.

          Thanks for asking.

  • Tom Wells

    I take pretty much all the supplements above myself, just to be healthy (with the exception of tramadol, obviously). Is it doping? Not really. You can get the same benefit by eating certain foods, the supplements just allow you to get it into your system without the addition of calories.

    Why you’d need a needle though is another thing entirely.

  • And SKY didn’t want to join the MPCC even though they always tried to claim being a “clean” team. I don’t see SKY sticking around as a team for much longer. One more season maybe? I am sure these allegations will allow the sponsors to pull out, even if they are under contract until 2020.

  • GH0STP1X3L

    “an alternative to doping … just freshening what you do naturally.”
    Attempting to justify the contradictions and falsehoods of your actions is just flat out lying to yourself and everyone else… #alternativefacts.

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