Tyler Hamilton has continued to expose his and cycling's dark past by alleging former Olev Tinkov, former owner of Tinkoff Credit Systems and now sponsor of Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, suggested his riders do what was required to achieve results, "just don't get caught."
Hamilton's claims follow in quick succession after revealing his former CSC team director Bjarne Riis was aware of his relationship with doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.
Hamilton has reportedly told Sportken.dk that Tinkov expressed his attitude toward untold practices at the team's first meeting. The American joined Tinkoff Credit Systems in 2007 after serving a two-year ban for failing a blood test at the 2004 Vuelta a España.
"Already at the first team meeting, where we sat in a conference room, Oleg Tinkov said: 'I do not care what you do, just do not get caught'. You can write this because there were many people in the room who can confirm it, if Tinkov decided to sue me for saying this," said Hamilton.
"There were 20-year-old riders around the table. Was it really something they should hear? He did not say anything specific about it, but he said 'do not be caught'. We do not need such a person in cycling."
Tinkoff Credit Systems disbanded at the end of 2008 with the team structure transferred to Team Katusha however, Hamilton was not on the team to witness the change. He was suspended by the team shortly before the 2007 Giro d'Italia after being named in Operación Puerto. He left the team at the end of 2007 before joining Rock Racing in 2008.
Tinkov withdrew his involvement with the Katusha project at the end of 2008 and has only recently re-entered the professional scene after announcing the partnership with Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank team just weeks before the start of this year's Tour de France. The deal that was brokered part way through this season and will extend to the end of 2013.
"When I read that he came back to cycling and to Bjarne Riis, I wished I had a good relationship with Bjarne, as I would have called him and said 'stay away from Oleg'."
"I do not like Oleg Tinkov. I do not trust him. And I do not think I should trust him. His return is a setback for cycling."