As the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee sat in the Thatcher Room at Portcullis House, Westminster, and struggled to digest being ticked off by Shane Sutton for their lack of patriotism, Dave Brailsford, three piece suited, cufflinks shining, strode in, hoping to restore calm.
That at least, after Sutton's petulant and misplaced tirade, seemed to be Brailsford's intention. His first conciliatory act was to give the world what it wanted by telling us what he believed was really in Bradley Wiggins' Jiffy bag. Unlike Sutton, Brailsford has become accustomed to public appearances before high profile audiences. He was suave, polite, studied, employing a relaxed and reassuring smile, as if he knew his every nuance would be scrutinised by body-language experts.
A disaster for British Cycling
During his session, Howden, told by one committee member that the Wiggins story was "a disaster for you and British Cycling", lacked authority and stature and had seemed ineffective from the off. MP Andrew Bingham waded in, mocking Howden's lack of knowledge of his staff's activities, and his inability to detail the contents of packages flown around Europe by British Cycling.
"There's been no wrongdoing so I don't see how it can be damaging. We're policed better than anybody – we should be applauded for that."
"You, sitting there, being British," he told the committee, "you should be embracing the success they've achieved. They've all done it clean. You've actually upset me there. I'm astounded that you would take that sort of tone with me. I'm upset you question the integrity of the team."
The public will be Brailsford's judge and jury
After Sutton's tantrum, Brailsford's arrival, folder of notes under his arm, outwardly calmed the atmosphere.
In the post Festina, post Puerto, post Landis, Rasmussen and Armstrong era, Brailsford's drive and enthusiasm ensured he was extended a huge amount of goodwill. As ever in this most romantic of sports, people wanted to believe. Brailsford answered that yearning. Cycling had changed, he said. New names could win and win clean. Brailsford's name, became, for many in Britain, a byword for credibility.
Those that once lionised him are now wondering how much more they don't know, while long-suffering fans of cycling are left, yet again, with a bitter sense of déjà vu.
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