David Walsh has questioned Team Sky's ethics in The Sunday Times newspaper suggesting that the British team "talk the talk of high ethical standards but do not walk the walk."
In reply to questions from Cyclingnews, Team Sky denied any failings regarding Chris Froome racing with a Theraputic Use Exemption (TUE) at the Tour de Romandie, insisting their riders "only race or train when it's right to do so – their safety and long-term health are essential."
Walsh was embedded with Team Sky during the 2013 Tour de France and went on to write the book 'Inside Team Sky', where he said he publicly concluded that Froome won the race clean and that there was no trace of a doping culture within Team Sky.
Walsh is famous for his pursuit of Lance Armstrong and his strong stance against doping.
He openly questions Team Sky's ethical stance after it emerged that the British team requested a TUE so that Froome could be treated with a corticoid containing the banned substance prednisone during the Tour de Romandie in April. Froome went on to win the race.
Walsh appears to have talked to Froome, Team Sky's lead doctor Alan Farrell and former team psychologist Steve Peeters. He suggests Team Sky, at one point, had medical ethics that were against requesting a TUE during competition and questions why this no longer appears to be the case.
"What has happened to the team’s belief that TUEs should not be sought for riders in competition? Farrell says he was unaware this ethical position existed within the team. Froome says he never heard of it. But Peters has said it did exist at one point and the team are in only their fifth year," Walsh writes.
"As in the case of the appointment of (former Rabobank doctor) Leinders, Team Sky talk the talk of high ethical standards but do not walk the walk."
Walsh highlights the fact that the four riders in the top five who finished behind Froome at the Tour de Romandie all ride for teams that are part of The Movement For Credible Cycling (MPCC). He says that under MPCC rules, they would not have been allowed to apply for the TUE that Froome received.
"Team Sky like to portray themselves as the most ethical team in the peloton. The evidence says otherwise." Walsh said as a conclusion to his story.
Team Sky happy not be part of the MPCC
Speaking to Cyclingnews, Team Sky defended its decision to ask for a TUE for Froome, insisting it was safe for Froome to ride the Tour de Romandie despite his chest infection.
"It was safe for Chris to ride at Romandie and he was given the appropriate treatment," a team spokesperson told Cyclingnews.
"Our riders will only race or train when it's right to do so – their safety and long-term health are essential. The medical team supports all of our riders, in and out of competition, and provides the proper medical care to ensure they are always safe to ride."
Team Sky management has always been against becoming a member of the MPCC despite the movement's clear stance against doping, apparently aligning with their own beliefs.
"Team Sky's approach to anti-doping is well-known," a Team Sky spokesperson told Cyclingnews.
"We abide by the rules and we strongly support the authorities – including the UCI and WADA – in their work. We’re happy with our position. The MPCC is a voluntary organisation and we – like some other teams – are not members of the group."
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