Nicolas Roche (BMC) has called on UK-Anti Doping to speed up their investigation into an alleged doping violation between British Cycling and Team Sky. The Irishman was speaking to Cyclingnews after initially penning a column in the Irish Independent that suggested he would not have backed Dave Brailsford with a written declaration of support.
The Team Sky manager, who on Friday told Cyclingnews that he would not stand down from his position, is at the centre of the UKAD investigation that was launched after it was uncovered that a medical package was transported to the Dauphine in 2011 to treat Bradley Wiggins. Neither British Cycling nor Team Sky has been able to prove what the package contained, but they have claimed it held an over-the-counter decongestant. Any hope of apparently proving the contents were lost when the doctor who ordered and administered the medicine, Richard Freeman, had his laptop stolen in 2014.
Last week, Cyclingnews broke the story that several riders had held talks over whether Brailsford should be approached and asked to stand down due to the mounting pressure on the team. Team Sky were quick to respond, first contacting Cyclingnews to ask for the name of the source, and then asking their riders to publicly back Brailsford. A number of riders tweeted their '100%' support, but team leader Chris Froome was missing from the list. The Telegraph later reported that Froome refused to sign a joint declaration between all the riders that stated full support for Brailsford. That prompted Roche, who rode for Team Sky from 2013 to 2014 to pen his thoughts in the Irish press.
"During the week, it was reported that Chris Froome was one of the riders who refused to sign a statement giving his support of beleaguered team boss Dave Brailsford and, in fairness, I probably would have done the same," Roche wrote in the Irish Independent. "If I've learned anything from the past it's that you can't put your hand in the fire for anyone."
Roche, currently racing at Paris-Nice, where he is supporting another ex-Team Sky rider, Richie Porte, spoke to Cyclingnews at the finish of stage 6 in Fayence.
"My main concern is why does it always take five years for something to come out?" he said. "I can't understand why these things are not resolved a lot quicker because it's always the generation after that pays for what happens five years ago, and I think that's pretty unfair."
Roche called on the authorities to step up their investigation. UKAD claimed during a Parliament select committee hearing that they had been hindered in terms of cooperation from British Cycling and Team Sky over rider medical records. No final date has been set for the publication of their findings and they have been unable to unearth the truth, with the physio who put the medical package together in 2011 unable to remember its contents.
"I've commented already quite a lot on the subject, back in October. It's not easy because from reading some of my colleagues' comments on the internet, it's not an easy situation," Roche added.
The Irishman added that the victims in the investigation were the riders and staff who had been dragged into the investigation due to their mere association with Team Sky or British Cycling.
"At the end of the day the whole team is questioned for the possible wrongdoing of a few," he told Cyclingnews. "I thought that wasn't fair. Like I've said, I was there for two years and nothing happened. It's not fair to attack every single rider on the team. That was the point I was trying to make."
When asked what the best solution would be in the matter, Roche responded: "It's not my place to say but the best resolution I think would be for the legal side to get their act together, and get going. It's either a yes or a no, rather than this going on for six months. That would do us better. Let's go 100 per cent and get it done. Yes or no, if it's no then we move on, and if it's yes, then they get penalised."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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