Over two months on from claiming that Team Sky would conduct an internal investigation into Dr. Geert Leinders’ time as team doctor at Rabobank, team principal Dave Brailsford has yet to announce the results of his inquiry.
Questioned by Cyclingnews on the matter in Maastricht on Sunday, Brailsford divulged no details on the nature of the investigations or his findings, simply saying that a conclusion would be reached “soon.”
Leinders was the team doctor with the Rabobank team in 2007 when Michael Rasmussen was expelled from the Tour de France while in yellow for evading doping controls in the build-up to the race. Leinders left Rabobank in 2009.
In May of this year, former Rabobank manager Theo De Roy told Volksrant that doping had been tolerated on the team up until at least 2007, saying that it was “a deliberate decision of the medical staff.”
Leinders joined Sky in the winter of 2010 in a part-time capacity, working 80 days a year for the team. His appointment came less than a year after Team Sky had pledged that it would only employ doctors who had never before worked on professional cycling teams, supposedly in order to ensure that the sins of cycling’s past could have no place in this new team.
Brailsford was at the world championships over the weekend in his capacity as British Cycling’s performance director, and before the start of the men’s road race start in Maastricht on Sunday morning, Cyclingnews asked Brailsford for details on the nature of the supposed investigation – namely, has that internal investigation begun, what does it consist of and when will it conclude?
Brailsford paused before replying: “Well, I think we’re addressing the issue. We’re satisfied with what we’re doing and we’ll come to a conclusion soon.”
A follow-up question was interrupted. “I don’t want to comment on it anymore,” Brailsford said, already edging towards his team bus, before adding: “We’re here to talk about the Worlds, aren’t we?”
Speaking to The Times and Cycle Sport magazine during this year’s Tour de France, Brailsford linked the decision to hire Leinders to concerns for his riders' health at the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, when a number of riders were struck by an unrelated illness in the days following the death of soigneur Txema Gonzalez from a bacterial infection.
“This is not about doping. We’re pushing the guys to their limits, so we need to look after them. It’s about genuine medical practice,” Brailsford insisted in July, adding that the team would make inquiries about Leinders’ role at Rabobank.
Leinders, who worked at Rabobank from 1996 to 2009, was not present at the Tour de France in July, where Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome filled the first two spots on the podium.
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Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.