Sky principal calls on media to help find a solution
Given the demolition Chris Froome handed out to his rivals on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, it was almost inevitable that Sky's rest day press conference in Orange would be dominated with questions surrounding doping. The race itself, Froome's rivals and all talk of yellow took a back seat as the race leader and Dave Brailsford faced questions over their integrity and credibility. The morning edition of L'Equipe, which ran with the headline, 'Froome Naturellement' only raised the issue up the agenda even higher.
Brailsford has repeatedly stated that he welcomes and accepts questions over doping but there was more than a tinge of frustration hidden behind his answers.
"Bottom line is, it's a rest day. It's 10 o'clock in the morning and I'm trying to defend someone who has done nothing wrong. I'm happy to do it and more than happy to try and convince you guys that we're not doing anything wrong but we need a bit of help," he said.
That help, according to Brailsford, would transpire with the media grouping together and then relaying their ideas back to the team principal and his back room staff. 'How can we convince you we're clean?' RSVP by Paris.
"Why don't you collectively have a meeting, get yourself together, get organised, and you tell me what could we do so we wouldn't have to ask these questions. Because you're asking me to come up with some sort of novel idea to satisfy you but instead of asking me get your heads together and then come to me and say this is what we would like to prove without reasonable doubt. I know what we're doing but I haven't got a magic wand to help come and convince you guys so help me out."
A brainstorming weekend away in the Cotswolds with the cycling media may not provide more than just the typical topics of discussion but the tactic from Brailsford was to quell the repeated questions from the press. With each win and each dominant ride from Sky the questions grow: a reality of the situation the sport has brought upon itself but one that Sky struggle at times to deal with.
"You're asking me how can I prove to you that we're not doping, basically. Okay you're all asking the same questions obviously. Every day we get asked the same question and I can assure you we think really hard about the optimal way to prove to you guys that we're not doping. The latest craze is power data, lets all generate and compare data to prove that beyond reasonable doubt that we're not doping. We've been asked to release that data and people seem to think that would make a difference to the analysis."
"I'm not sure that just releasing it per se would be the right thing to do. But we've been thinking about the passport and how that works with an expert appointed, who then get all the information and blood data and then evaluate that."
The release of all data would quell some that doubt Sky. However it's not that simple. Wiggins, Vande Velde and Armstrong all released their passport data after certain Tour performances and each rider's data was open to interpretation of a varied kind.
However Brailsford then mentioned WADA as perhaps a portal for the team to execute the analysis of data. There are currently no concrete plans to do anything of the sort, however Brailsford did admit that he'd talked to WADA about the idea.
"We'd encourage WADA to appoint to some experts and they could have everything we've got. They could have all our information, all of our data. We could then compare are training files with the blood data, to the weight and WADA would be a good body to analyse that," he said.
"How are you going to prove to us you're not doping, which isn't the greatest question to ask, why not think collectively what would be the best method to prove without reasonable doubt that we're not doping. Given the situation, given what's happened with Lance Armstrong, and with athletics, I think that just applying old ways of thinking is never going to find a solution."