Jim Ratcliffe, the owner of Ineos, has said he would pull his sponsorship of the British squad if there was any evidence that his team were not a clean cycling operation.
The re-iteration of his confidence in Brailsford and the Ineos team comes as former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman is involved in a hearing where he stands accused by the General Medical Council of ordering testosterone in 2011 to help a rider dope. Freeman denies the charges.
“Dave will have to deal with that side,” Ratcliffe told the Times. “I am not interested in the history, just our watch and going forward. If there are any issues for Dave he will have to deal with those. There is nothing happening in our team.”
After Sky announced they were ending their sponsorship of the British team, Ratcliffe stepped in to plug the £40 million funding gap with his petrochemical giant, continuing to provide the biggest budget of any WorldTour outfit. The British businessman says that before he agreed to put his money in rigorous checks were made to ensure he was investing in a legitimate, clean operation.
“We checked all the procedures, everything, doctors’ records,” Ratcliffe said. “You buy a cycling team, there wasn’t much legal work to do but we spent a lot of time on due diligence on the team.
“We had external lawyers do those checks, looking at the procedures, testing. We took it seriously. The regulations when we bought, and the procedures in Team Sky, were the most sophisticated and rigorous in the cycling world.”
Freeman’s tribunal is also investigating whether he failed to maintain adequate records and that he failed to ensure records on a laptop, stolen in August 2014, could be retrieved.
One of the latest developments in the case revealed that Freeman downloaded an academic article detailing testosterone boosting drugs a month before ordering Testogel.