Team Sky’s American Race Coach Bobby Julich has quit the team after admitting doping during his riding career in the 90’s.
Julich had been with Sky for two seasons but had to leave after the British team last week reaffirmed its zero-tolerance position on doping. Team Principal Dave Brailsford and psychiatrist Steve Peters began conducting interviews with all their staff last week and were open about the fact they expected people to have to leave the team as a result.
Sky has always had a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to doping, but have been forced to act swiftly in the wake of the Lance Armstrong affair as so many riders and former riders were implicated in the mass of evidence that USADA uncovered. Julich was believed to be ‘Rider number 4’ in the evidence the agency gathered, but wasn’t interviewed as part of the investigation.
In a statement Julich, who coached Chris Froome and Richie Porte at Sky, admitted to doping between 1996 and 1998, the year when he finished third at the Tour de France. Julich never tested positive during his career and said he rode clean while he was with CSC (2004 – 2008).
In a press release Brailsford said: “Bobby has shown courage in admitting to the errors he made long before his time with Team Sky. We understand that this is a difficult step for him and we’ve done our best to support him.”
“It’s important to emphasise that there have been no doubts about his work with us or his approach as a coach. He has done a good job and been a good colleague during his two years with us. Bobby has our best wishes for the future.”
“We’ve made clear our commitment to being a clean team and been open about the steps we’re taking. Although it’s never easy to part, we believe this is the right thing to do.”
Julich’s statement, posted on the Cyclingnews website, said; “I have recently made a full confession to Team Sky senior management about my doping history and understand that by doing so I will no longer be able to work for a dream team performing my dream job. I also understand that by doing this, I will have to face some more important consequences in the real world and with the people that matter the most to me.”
“I made the decision to use EPO several times from August 1996 until July of 1998. Those days were very different from today, but it was not a decision that I reached easily. I knew that it was wrong, but over those two years, the attitude surrounding the use of EPO in the peloton was so casual and accepted that I personally lost perspective of the gravity of the situation.”
“During the 1998 Tour, my fiancé (now wife) found out what was going on from another rider’s wife. She confronted me on it and it was one of the most dreadful experiences of my life. She was never a part of this and I put her in a very difficult situation. She told me right then and there that if it ever happened again, our relationship would be over. That was motivation enough and I knew I had to stop.”
Julich started his professional career in 1996 with the American Motorola team before signing for Cofidis. He had two years at T-Mobile before signing for Bjarne Riis’s CSC team. In his statement he maintains he rode clean from 1998 onwards.