Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford says that he would never have hired controversial doctor Geert Leinders if he knew the full extent of the Belgian’s past, but also admitted that he has doubts over what effect a ‘truth and reconciliation’ process would have on cleaning up the sport.

Leinders was employed on an 80-day-a-year contract with Sky until last October after he was linked to alleged doping practices during his time with the Rabobank team.

Drawing parallels to Lance Armstrong’s recent confession, Brailsford said of Leinders: “Hindsight is a brilliant thing, and what we’ve all learnt is pretty horrific. Had we known then what we know now [about Leinders], we wouldn’t have touched the guy for sure.

“We went through what we thought was the right procedure – we interviewed the guy, we sat down with Steve (Peters, Sky’s Psychiatrist) and it’s well documented what we did. Had we have had hindsight we wouldn’t have done it.”

Hours before the UCI confirmed its intention to set up a Truth and Reconciliation commission in a bid to examine the sport’s doping past, Brailsford said such a policy will only be successful if confessions are followed up in the correct way.

He said: “You’ve got to think about what’s the outcome. Everybody telling the truth doesn’t make things better – acting upon what you find and doing something tangible with that information so it doesn’t happen in the future will only make it better. Everybody telling the truth which then sits in a pot isn’t going to change anything.

“My personal opinion is if you get 25 guys to tell you how to rob a bank, and then 100 guys tell you how to rob a bank, the majority of what you learned on how to rob a bank would have come from the first 25. It’s the law of diminishing returns.

“If you’re trying to establish all the individuals involved, who then come clean and are forgiven, what have we learned? You talk about culture. How come so many people fell into his mindset? If you get an expert to look into this and why so many people fell into this culture and you make something tangible out of it to ensure it wouldn’t happen again, for sure is worth it.

He added: “Truth on its own is only half the equation. You’ve got to decide what your outcome goal is. If it is to minimise the risk of doping in this sport then you know what information you may need. I’m not sure anybody’s got the outcome worked out yet.”

Related links

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  • Nick

    “My personal opinion is if you get 25 guys to tell you how to rob a bank, and then 100 guys tell you how to rob a bank, the majority of what you learned on how to rob a bank would have come from the first 25. It’s the law of diminishing returns.”

    Well the big issue for david is that if you give everyone a free pass to come clean new stuff might come out…. or he may have to get rid of more of the ex dopers from his team. If it becomes clear that in 2009 you needed to dope to be on the podium of the tdf then wiggins is no longer the marketing crown for team sky that they want this is why he opposes t and c.

  • John Dee

    Robert on January 26 was totally correct. People think Lance is a control freak – look no further for his replacement in the form of Brailsford. Did he not know about the past of Yates, Jullich, De Jongha? Well he must have been the only person in cycling who did not. As for Leinders all the riders knew and as for a reason why Sky employed him then M. Mouse could have come up with a better answer than Brailsford. Somehow the news that Shane Sutton has gone – I wonder why? – has got buried somehow but as the saying goes keep your friends close but your enemies even closer!
    Truth and Reconciliation is just another name for clearing your conscious and then getting back to business.
    Please do not assume because ‘we are British we have to be given the benefit of the doubt’.
    The culture of doping in all sport is at such a level that it cannot now ever be eradicated.

  • MikeCope

    Time for Sky to publish details of riders MUE s —lets see if they really are as pure as the pope . lets have

  • William Hirst

    Doping, it is cheating. Something that is just not ‘British’. As cycling fans, we have been waiting a lifetime for this kind of success. To be up there with the likes of Spain and Italy instead of sharing a team car at the worlds with a country few have never heard of. Brailsford and Wiggins are not stupid, and they know if they cheat, they will get caught and lose everything. Armstrong was arrogant and stupid and his lies have caused everyone successful in the sport to have the finger of suspicion pointed at them.

    Give British Cycling and Team Sky the benefit of the doubt.

  • Mike

    Firstly I would have to have a reason to disbelieve Sky or Wiggins. So far they have done nothing to invoke any doubt the team is clean.
    Wiggins was fourth in the Tour where the first three have huge doubts regarding there performances. He then goes on to win two years later when the other three are missing or injured, so why the doubt?
    I doubted Armstrong as soon as it became aparent his main rivals were on EPO, he was murdering them but he was clean? Yea right.
    Wiggins won the Tour by riding two impressive TTs and limiting losses in the mountains.

    Sky bang on and on about being clean, what more do you want them to do, turn up at your door so you can do blood tests?
    Get real.

  • Robert

    John Parker wrote “If you have a job, I wonder how sucessful you are at it! Could you stand up the kind of srcunity Dave Brailsford has to?”. In all the jobs I have done, if I had made such as balls-up as Brailsford has with regards the hiring of Leinders and all the rest, I would have been out looking for a new post the next morning! Then again, Brailsford’s ability to spout ‘management speak’ and follow the party line is probably highly valued by Sky. OK, so perhaps I am being a little harsh on him, but much of what he comes out with seems nonsensical. Just look at the interview he did for Cyclesport in 2011, which included an assessment of the potential of each of the riders in the Sky team. He had Chris Froome down as being a ‘borderline rider’ and Bradley Wiggins as a top rider but on a downward trajectory. Then in 2012 Wiggins wins the Tour and Froome is second. If he could be so wrong here, why think he has some sort of genius insight into the sport. Fact is a lot of money goes into supporting the Sky riders, and it they who have to ride up the cols faster than anyone else, so why give Brailsford so much credit? Or is cycling to become like football where the manager is sacked if the players don’t score the goals?

  • Robert

    To paraphrase Mark Twain, ‘Faith is believing what you know isn’t true’. Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to claim this is the case with regards the belief that Sky are a ‘clean’ team, it remains the case that such a belief is based on nothing more than blind faith. Truth is, we simply don’t know if they are clean. What’s more, just as was the case with Armstrong, for a ‘clean’ team there is an awful lot of circumstantial evidence that makes them look very suspect, even if they aren’t. In addition, many of those defending Sky plainly never look further than Sky press releases for their information. For example, it is not true that “There (sic) biological passports are out there to be scrutinised.” Wiggins did publish some data in 2009, and say that he thought other riders should do so, but nothing has been forthcoming since. In fact the Sky team doctors advised Wiggins not to release any more data. One reason might be that when the UCI’s own passport based list of ‘suspicious’ rider profiles for 2010 was leaked, it showed that Wiggins had been given a rating of five, one higher than Armstrong, the same as Vinokourov and Contador and equating to a rating of ‘verging on the affirmative’. (The USADA file on Armstrong rated his chances of him riding clean in the 2009 /10 Tours, based on his blood profiles, as being ‘one in a million’…) As to Sky riders never parroting the ‘never tested positive’ line, well they certainly have in relation to Armstrong with Wiggins saying in 2011 “…he’s probably been the most tested cyclist in the pro peloton and you take that on face value and that he’s never failed a drugs test and until he does he’s clean.” I doubt the ‘old’ Wiggins (the one who ‘lost an hour a day’ in the Tour) would have said such a thing. In fact his view was that “If there’s a 1% suspicion or doubt that a team is involved in any way in a drugs ring or doping or working with certain doctors, then they shouldn’t be invited to the Tour de France – as simple as that – they shouldn’t even be given a racing licence until they can prove that they are, through stringent testing procedures, that they are not involved in any wrong doing…” Geert Leinders anyone? By the way the phrase ‘fairy-tale’ was used in relation to the dominance of Sky by non other than Pat McQuaid, prior to the Olympic Road Race. Given what is coming out in relation to Armstrong, McQuaid’s championing of Sky hardly increases one’s confidence in the team!


    If you have a job, I wonder how sucessful you are at it! Could you stand up the kind of srcunity Dave Brailsford has to? My guess is no. If a man of his ability does not meet with your approval, I suspect few do.

  • barry

    For someone like Brailsford who has been involved in cycling since the 80’s ,his following comments about recent events take a lot of believing ,as well as him explaining the ‘drugs’ doctor Leinders, who is as famous in Holland/Belgium as Ferrari is in Italy !!, being employed by Sky.
    On Armstrong found to have dopped
    “Brailsford said he was staggered by the extent of the systemic doping revealed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada).

    “It is shocking, it’s jaw dropping and it is very unpleasant,” he told BBC Radio 5 live . “It’s not very palatable and anybody who says it is would be lying wouldn’t they?”

  • milton

    no one is perfect sunshine except perhaps yourself . why dont you take over from Brailsford and do the job properly , and as an added bonus you could hire Kimmage as a consultant then we could have the Robert and Paul show then you could further Kimmages attack on Wiggins and co from the best vantage point In this post Armstrong era I would suppose that all you crusaders need a new cause . there is it seems to me a curious need to knock any thing successful ,if it is British so much the better .As for letting sleeping dogs lie I suspect some of you would like to exhume the dead ones as well For heavens sake how much longer is this all going to continue have these people nothing else in their lives , with their passion and zeal they could do much to help some of the real problems of this world of which there are so many ie sickness – famine _neglect -violence – abuse poverty .All of these much more important and deserving of attention than bike races , but I suspect that it is so much better sitting at a computer and hurling abuse at people who in most cases can not bite back

  • James

    Well Robert your obviously far better than the incompetent Mr Brailsford so maybe you should be running team sky! If it was choice to have people in charge like Dave Brailsford or armchair critics like you, I know who I’d choose!

  • Mike

    Well….I for one believe in Sky. Why is it a fairytale? They do everything they can, and go further than any other team, to ensure the team is clean.
    They bang on about being clean. None of this “Never tested positive” nonsense.
    There biological passports are out there to be scrutinised. What more do people want?
    I have noticed on a number of forums an anti Sky movement. Why? Is it because they are British and successfull?

    Brailsford was bound to be asked for his oppinion regarding the Armstrong revelations. Damned either way.
    They are doing the best they can to be clean in what has historicaly been a murky sport, please cut them some slack.

  • steve macdonald

    the faith people have in sky,brailsford,wiggins reminds me of the faith they had in armstrong a couple of years back.the mainstream cycling press will continue to make cow eyes at them while avoiding asking awkward questions,just like with lance again and in a few more years i suspect we’ll be back to where we are now.

  • Robert

    So, first Brailsford says that he will not hire anyone from within the sport in order to ensure the team won’t be tainted by suspicions of doping. Then he goes ahead and hires a whole raft of people, from Leinders to Yates, who even a casual fan, or someone capable of doing a web search, could see had a ‘history’. What’s more the ‘managerial mastermind’ seems to be content with vetting interviewees by doing no more than simply saying ‘Now then, could you tell me if you have ever doped or helped others to do so?’. ‘No sir.’ ‘That’s great, welcome to the team!’ Then he compounds his folly by trying to justify his actions with frankly ridiculous statements, such as him claiming that it was necessary to hire Leinders because otherwise team members might die from bacterial infections or heat stress. What a joker! OK, so none of this proves that Leinders was consciously hired to pass on the sort of ‘skills’ he employed at Rabobank to Sky, but it is hard to forgive Brailsford for such crass incompetence when it has done so much to undermine the willingness of fans to believe in the Sky ‘fairy tale’. It also makes it pretty much impossible to buy into the cult of managerialism that surrounds Brailsford. As to his reluctance to embrace the proposed ‘truth and reconciliation’ process, doesn’t he see how easily this might be interpreted as him wanting to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’?