Team Ineos will lose financial backing if caught cheating says owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe

'The day that any of that enters our world we'll be exiting that world'

Team Ineos during stage one of the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Team Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has said he'll pull his financial backing of the cycling team if they are caught cheating.

The official switch of title sponsor from Team Sky to Team Ineos took place on Wednesday May 1, the day before the start of the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire, which team boss Dave Brailsford called a "momentous day" for cycling.

Talking to BBC Sport, Ratcliffe said: "We did our due diligence. I have absolutely no interest in cheating or drugs.

"The day that any of that enters our world we'll be exiting that world."

Ratcliffe said: "What's the point in winning a race if you cheat? Also, I believe if you've got the best athletes in the world with the best training regimes you don't need any of those enhancements."

Team Sky had to deal with a number of controversies during their nine-year history, including Chris Froome being cleared by the UCI after they ruled his 2017 Vuelta a España sample would not be considered an adverse analytical finding (AAF) after it was found to contain more than the permitted concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol.

The UK Anti-Doping Agency also spent 14 months investigating  a "mystery package" that was delivered to Richard Freeman, then Team Sky's doctor, on the final day of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, which Bradley Wiggins won. However, UKAD brought no anti-doping charges against the team.

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Team Sky, Froome and Wiggins have all denied any wrongdoing in these cases, with Ratcliffe saying he has also spoken to Brailsford about these issues.

"The sport has changed in my view. You shouldn't condemn the sport because it's had some issues in the past," the Team Ineos owner added.

"It has turned a corner, it's the only reason we're there. We did all our homework and we got comfortable that the procedures and the people were the sort of people we're comfortable with."

Debuting at the Tour de Yorkshire, Team Ineos have faced protests over the company's plastic production and links to fracking, with critics saying the firm's sponsorship is an attempt at "greenwashing".

Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome has defended his new team's sponsors, saying: "Of course it matters within reason. It matters who the person is, who the company is, sure.

"Unless you are going to ask every anchorman on every news channel about the people who pay for advertising on their shows, then there is definitely a double standard there.

"If you are going to ask so much of certain sportspeople and not others, especially when there are already energy companies within the peloton and not a word was said to those teams or those riders then I don’t think it is fair."

Chris Froome is currently leading the team at the Tour de Yorkshire, whilst 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas is riding his first race for Team Ineos at the Tour de Romandie, albeit in one-off temporary kit, as the race started before the official unveiling of the team's new branding.

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