Mathew Hayman (Team Sky) has refused to discuss Dr. Geert Leinders, the physician at the centre of Rabobank’s doping programme. Leinders has been accused of doping several of the riders on the Dutch team, including Michael Rasmussen, Levi Leipheimer and Thomas Dekker.
Hayman rode for the Dutch team from 2000 to 2009 before signing for Team Sky, where he has positioned himself as one of their strongest Classics riders. Leinders was later hired by British squad at the start of 2011 but his contract was not renewed at the end of last season after his name was raised in suspicion of past doping involvement. Sky denied the non-renewal was due to its zero-tolerance policy on doping and stated that they were unaware of his past despite a screening interview carried out by their resident psychologist Steve Peters.
Last week Michael Rasmussen lifted the lid on his doping practices at Rabobank, at one point telling NOS.nl that he and Leinders would hide doping products on the team bus at the 2003 Vuelta a España. Rasmussen finished seventh overall in the race.
Hayman was also on the Rabobank squad for the Vuelta and shared the team bus with Rasmussen for the entire three weeks. When asked about his memories of that race in relation to Rasmussen’s claims, the Australian said, “One, I don’t remember anything like that. I’m not aware of this because I’ve been cut off from the rest of the world for the last week. I don’t remember anything from that Vuelta in particular. I have no comment.”
Hayman is currently at a Sky training camp but when asked about Leinders specifically he said, “If you want to talk about the Classics, or Team Sky, or young British riders, or anything like, then I’m free to talk. Otherwise, I don’t have time. Goodbye,” before putting down the phone.
Sky has attempted to enforce a zero tolerance policy in relation to doping in recent months. The measures have stretched not just into future conduct but have attempted to cleanse the team of any individual with doping pasts.
The team’s staff were all asked to sign an anti-doping declarations as well as sit down for one-on-one discussions with Steve Peters. In the wake of the discussions Bobby Julich was forced to leave the team and within days he had admitted to talking performance enhancing drugs during the early stages of his career.
Steven De Jongh, who was also on Rabobank’s 2003 Vuelta team, was also dismissed from his role as a DS.
Officially these were the only casualties of Sky’s cull. Sean Yates retired from the team due to health reasons, but although the team was adamant in stressing that it was not part of their anti-doping stance, Yates's sudden departure drew much attention due to the fact that he was a teammate of Lance Armstrong at Motorola.
At the time Yates said, "I realise the timing of my retirement will lead to speculation given what is currently going on in the sport but I can walk away with my head held high knowing I have done nothing wrong."
Michael Rogers, a key component of Sky’s Tour de France team, also left the team, signing for Bjarne Riis’ Saxo Bank team in December of last year.
Shane Sutton also stepped down as head coach of Team Sky although the Australian continues to serve a consultation role as a performance advisor and “troubleshooter.”
Sky has attempted to redress the negative press that has overshadowed their Tour de France success by granting journalist David Walsh to an ‘access all areas’ pass for the 2013 season. Walsh wrote important books about doping at US Postal before penning Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong last year.