The Team Sky saga dominates the headlines at home in Great Britain, but abroad, newspapers and readers have yet to fully embrace the news. Foreign journalists say that could change as further details emerge and as the Tour de France approaches.
Parliament and the UK Anti-Doping Agency are looking into wrong-doing and doping claims in Team Sky and British Cycling. Already, UKAD blasted Sky’s Doctor Richard Freeman in a select committee hearing. Others have suggested that team founder and boss David Brailsford should step down.
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“The story doesn’t have much sex appeal in Flanders,” Het Laatste Nieuws journalist Marc Ghyselinck told Cycling Weekly.
“The readers care, but it’s far from what they think of as cycling in Flanders. This is a complicated story as it is with Doctor Richard Freeman, a 2011 mystery package… It’s quite complicated. It’s not rider A positive for product B.”
On Monday, the Belgian newspaper led one of its pages with the Sunday Times‘s story on Team Sky. That occupied one-third of a page in their five-page cycling coverage devoted mostly to the upcoming classics.
“At the moment, it doesn’t get that much coverage because it’s a weird scandal, not a doping case scandal, so it’s a little too complicated for the average German fan,” explained Felix Mattis of Rad-Sport News.
“However, I think it’s going to change heading to the Tour de France. If it goes on like this, then it’ll be a big topic because all the big German media will be covering cycling and they will ask what Sky is doing, or was doing.”
The pink Italian daily sports newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport ran two news items in the last 10 days.
“We haven’t done much on it,” journalist Paolo Marabini said. “Our impression is that there needs to be something concrete. And maybe because there aren’t Italian cyclists involved. It is all around Bradley Wiggins, who’s an ex-cyclist, so there’s not so much push from us to go deeper.
Watch: UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead in front of MPs
“However, we followed every step of the Lampre Mantova investigation because that was an Italian team. We printed elements from the case that others didn’t have. We had someone there at the prosecutor’s office and in every hearing.”
With speculation this week that Brailsford could be forced out of Team Sky, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf printed an interview with Sky’s Wout Poels on the subject.
“When the team started, when David Brailsford arrived, they talked about a different way of cycling, doing everything differently than the Armstrong period, that they would have full transparency, but now look, like everyone in sport, they are searching in the grey area,” De Telegraaf‘s Raymond Kerckhoffs said. “In my eyes, Sky has lost its halo in this.
“However, there is nothing that says that Sky dopes. If you have to fire David Brailsford, then I know many other team managers that have to be fired too.”