The UK Anti-Doping Agency has opened an investigation into “rife” doping at the former Linda McCartney team, which ceased operations eleven years ago. The agency has not confirmed the specific investigation,but said it had received information concerning various doping charges, according to The Times.
According to the newspaper, the investigation was “was triggered by a tip-off from the man who founded the team,” presumably Julian Clark, who in 2011 was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment for fraud on an unrelated matter.
There are also said to be witness statements, gathered by the Times. “They say that although it was not a doping program led by team management, the riders were responsible for their own doping programmes and senior personnel turned a blind eye.”
One of those riders is Matt DeCanio, an American who rode for the team, who says he did not dope. “The team definitely knew that some of the riders were dirty. If you wanted to use drugs, you wouldn’t lose your job. Doping wasn’t pushed – they weren’t giving drugs out. The team wanted to hire riders who knew how to dope themselves, did it on their own and who would come to races prepared.”
Another rider on the team was Max Sciandri, now a directeur sportif at BMC Racing Team, who denied any doping. “It’s now a matter of everybody making accusations of everybody. Every day you open the paper and someone is making an accusation about someone else," he told The Times.
Sean Yates was manager for the team in 2000. This fall he quit as chief sport director for Team Sky, but both he and the team denied it was in any related to the team's zero-tolerance antidoping policy. Yates told the newspaper that had no knowledge of doping at his previous teams.
UK Anti-Doping issued a statement, in which it said, "“All valid information that could lead to a prosecution will be followed up, however building a non-analytical case (where no positive test exists) frequently takes time to ensure the evidence is robust and verified.
“All potential charges are independently reviewed before action is taken to ensure sufficient evidence exists to proceed." The statement concluded, “All cases and sanctions are published at the end of the prosecution process, after the appeal process is finalised too. Individuals being investigated or prosecuted may choose to speak out at any point.”
The team, sponsored by Linda McCartney Foods, was established in 1998, shortly before McCartney's death. It started out with British riders doing British races but then moved into the international scene and became the first British team to ride the Giro, in 2000. It folded at the beginning of the 2001 season due to financial problems.