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Anti-doping policy more important than results, says Brailsford
Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford has said that he is still searching for a new directeur sportif for the 2013 season following the departures of Steven De Jongh, Bobby Julich and Sean Yates from the team’s management staff in October.
Both De Jongh and road coach Julich left the team as part of Sky’s new, "zero tolerance" anti-doping policy after they confessed to doping during their careers, while Yates retired, citing health reasons.
The addition of Australian triathlon coach Shaun Stephens to the coaching staff compensates in part for Julich’s departure, and it is understood that Dan Hunt is also poised to make a more permanent move to Team Sky from his existing role with British Cycling. However, Brailsford is hoping to add further to his management staff, even if he acknowledged that it might not be possible.
“We’ve looking for another directeur sportif but if we don’t find the right person, we’ll be ok. We’ll stay with what we have,” Brailsford told L’Équipe.
After a season that saw his squad win the Tour de France, Paris-Nice, Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Romandie, Brailsford claimed that he would prioritise an anti-doping philosophy over results in his search for a new directeur sportif.
“It’s hard to find somebody but we’re not going to change our policy. When you arrive at this point, you’re perhaps obliged to back off from performance for a little bit in order to maintain your stance on anti-doping. There’s what we’re going to do. I’d prefer that we stick to our philosophy and go backwards with our results, rather than try to do everything and wrangle a bit to stay on top. The most important thing isn’t just winning.”
In the L’Équipe interview, Brailsford once again stated that his team had broken with its initial policy of refusing to hire doctors with a previous involvement in professional cycling as a response to the death of soigneur Txema Gonzalez during the 2010 Vuelta a España.
Shortly afterwards, former Rabobank doctor Geert Leinders began working with the team. The Dutchman parted company with Sky at the end of the 2012 season after former Rabobank manager Theo De Rooy revealed in May that doping had been tolerated on the team up to 2007, a period in which Leinders was on the Rabobank staff.
“The error I made was that I should have told everyone that the policy was changing because it didn’t work and we were afraid that we didn’t have enough experience. But I didn’t do that,” Brailsford said of the initial decision to hire Leinders.