The New South Wales Grand Prix Series was launched in Sydney on Friday with headline rider Chris Sutton (Sky) finding himself in the midst of the fallout from his team's anti-doping policy. Sutton will line up in December to defend the title he has won the last two years with the 28-year-old saying he will "give it a crack" after much of his season was disrupted by a back injury.
The move by Sky came off the back of the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong and his associates, with Michael Barry among those to offer doping confessions having been implicated. Before returning to Australia, Sutton was part of the meetings that took place last week and signed his anti-doping oath. Sutton is happy to sign the documents, but if he's honest, it's a position he doesn't want to be in at all. He doesn't believe that riders of his generation and younger should be outspoken about current anti-doping efforts.
"We're not from that era," Sutton said. "We're doing it [racing] clean.
"When I signed with Sky at the end of 2009 - my contract was from the beginning of 2010 - we had a zero tolerance policy. It was made clear. If you get caught you're gone faster than what you signed the contract. I'm just worried about me and my own backyard. I'm doing everything the right way."
Sutton said that he too went through the interview process but admitted that it was over pretty quick.
"For a young guy that's come in pretty late, I haven't seen anything," he explained.
Sutton was saddened by the news of race coach Bobby Julich's doping confession on Friday. The American was a great personal support to Sutton especially this season while he was struggling with a back injury.
"I've got nothing but nice words to say about him and I can't thank him enough for what he did to help me out when I was injured."
Sutton was at the Tour of Beijing when the USADA documents regarding the investigation into Armstrong and his associates was released - and he admits that internet access played a role in his isolation from the exact details.
"I just don't want to read it, full stop," Sutton admitted before going on to say that Julich's past was not something that he had ever considered.
"You can never judge a book by its cover."
As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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