Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has remarked that hiring a doctor once linked with alleged doping practices was a mistake.
The team severed ties with Belgian Geert Leinders, a former doctor at Rabobank who is under investigation by the Belgian judicial authorities. However, Leinders has denied any involvement in doping.
“The whole thing is my responsibility. I will take that squarely on the chin. It’s something I regret, it’s a mistake,” Brailsford told a news conference. “I should not have done it. I made an error of judgment.”
Since last year, Team Sky has been under the microscope when they started to dominate the field in ruthless fashion, with 2012 Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins repeatedly being grilled on doping.
Sky’s current Tour leader Chris Froome recently remarked he is “100 percent” clean. “I know that what I’m doing is right, I know that the stage I won two days ago … I know that result will never be stripped,” said Froome.
“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.”
Meanwhile, reformed doper David Millar insists Froome’s Tour de France excellence is the result of talent, ambition, and hard work. Millar tweeted after their win: “Team Sky rode a perfect race, and for the record, I believe they are clean and deserve respect and admiration for it. I don’t think they deserve to have mud thrown at them when they work so hard to do it right. It doesn’t seem fair.”
Millar added: “We as a team at Garmin have been flag bearers for clean cycling. We want to try to prove to the public and media that it is possible to perform at the biggest races clean. We love the sport so I will occasionally step in and defend someone who I think is being treated unfairly. Chris has dedicated his life to racing, he does everything right but Sky perhaps don’t defend themselves as well as they could. So I stepped in and did it.”