Brailsford dodges questions about UKAD investigation at Team Sky's Mallorca camp

Briton dismisses furore as 'Fleet Street matter'

David Brailsford's first meeting with the press since appearing in front of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee in December was always going to be a tense affair, and so it turned out to be with questions turning to recent remarks from his team leader Chris Froome and the head of UK Anti-Doping.

As the assembled journalists descended on the hastily arranged interview area of the Team Sky hotel in Mallorca, Brailsford first tried to get some semblance of order; meticulously laying out each of the audio recorders in two neat lines before questioning could begin.

After calling the comments of UK Anti-Doping chairman David Kenworthy extraordinary, Brailsford went on to say that the recent scandal surrounding Team Sky hasn't damaged his relationship with Chris Froome, despite Froome's resistance in backing Brailsford in an interview last week.

"Our communication is about how we're going to win the Tour again," Brailsford told the media. "We talk a lot about what we need to do to go and perform this year, [to] cement his place within the legends of the sport, and what's that going to take. We've discussed that. In that sense, it's the same as ever."

Brailsford had been fairly buoyant ahead of the press meeting, greeting much of the media with a smile as he walked through the hotel. For the rest of the team, it was business as usual as they ramp up their preparations for the season ahead. However, in this small corner of the beachfront hotel, the tension mounted as Brailsford fielded questions about the now famous 'jiffy bag' and the events surrounding it for almost half an hour.

In general, Brailsford was expansive, but he still gave little away and often declined to answer questions due to the ongoing investigation at UK Anti-Doping. One such question asked whether the lack of paper trail for the contents of the package, while everything else was seemingly documented, made him uncomfortable.

"I just come back to what happens in the process and what I've just been criticising somebody for…let's stick to the process and wait and see what the outcome is," responded Brailsford.

More on this story: Cyclingnews' full coverage of the UKAD investigation into Team Sky and British Cycling

In previous interviews, Brailsford has admitted that his handling of the case was not the best, but he on Tuesday he told the press that he was not concerned about what others thought of him.

"People's perception of me is what their perception of me may be," he said. "I accept that totally, I know what I'm doing, I know in my own mind, in my own soul, if I'm doing this the right way or not, and I've been doing it the right way for a long time, and I know that. I'll continue to do that, so me - I'm focussing on the future, this year, and next year and that's what I'm going to do."

He did add that should the scandal begin to have an impact on how he ran the team then he would consider stepping down. "I set myself high standards, and if I could no longer do what I'd set out to do then obviously, I'd think about that one again."

Team Sky's Dave Brailsford and Bradley Wiggins in the team bus at the 2013 Giro d'Italia

Relaying the facts

Brailsford also defended his actions in the wake of the initial allegations when asked by Daily Mail journalist Matt Lawton why it had taken him almost two weeks to establish what had been in the package. "I knew nothing about that package. You know it and I know it. And at that point, let's face it, it was a pretty alarming situation for myself to find myself in.

"I tried to gather the facts and relay them as I went along. You know that as well as I do, I relayed things as I went along, things that people said to me, I said to you and I did that honestly and truthfully despite the fact that some of these facts might have been contradictory."

One such contradictory thing was former British Cycling women's coach Simon Cope, who delivered the package, telling Cyclingnews that the delivery had been for the doctor and not, as it had been reported, for Bradley Wiggins.

Shane Sutton debunked that fairly swiftly at the select committee, stating that the medical package had been intended for Wiggins all along. Although he said that he was not defending Cope, Brailsford went on to say, "This is not an easy situation for people to come in, I'm pretty used to it, but it's not an easy environment to come into.

"I do understand people who feel under a pressurised situation when they're asked questions; it can be a very difficult scenario."

It was at that point that the line of questioning was swiftly moved on to more sporting matters but not before Brailsford dismissed the issue as a 'Fleet Street' matter.

"If Fleet Street want to come and talk to me then we can do that over there," he indicated to the other side of the room. "There's other people here, who might want to talk about other things. We can talk about cycling with the people who want to do cycling and then we can talk Fleet Street for the people who want to talk Fleet Street."

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