God I hate the hypocrisy

15 March 2015 Comments 6

I am regularly told not to focus on the negatives with these Watercooler pieces and rather highlight positives that reflect the positive emotion, power and benefits of sport. As much as I agree with the notion, it’s hard to move past the relentless tales of bollocks that the business of sport tends to throw up. I say business because one tends to find that behind most contentious issues lies money. This one is no different.

In case you didn’t know, Team Sky is the British cycling team that took out the Tour de France titles in 2012 and 2013 with Bradley Wiggins (now Sir Bradley) and Chris Froome. The fundamental values that support Team Sky are around anti doping. You can understand how we support this as these values reflect ours at SKINS as well.

The problem however stems from the insistence by Sky of a ‘zero tolerance policy’ towards all people involved with the team, including management. Their stated objective is to have no-one part of their journey that has at any stage been involved in any way with doping.

Whilst this stance is admirable, it’s unrealistic and virtually impossible to run a cycling team today and be compliant. You see, doping was so prevalent in cycling during the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s that there are so few riders from that era who would comply. This is an unworkable policy for Sky, let alone if introduced across all teams.

However the biggest issue I have is, whilst it may have started as a genuine desire to be the clean team, it’s now transcended into a publicity stunt and I’m today calling out Sky for this very hypocrisy.

One week ago, Nick Harris from the Mail on Sunday (UK newspaper) wrote a piece revealing French court documents from a criminal case in 2001 included expert testimony that Sky’s director sportif, Servais Knaven, had taken EPO at the 1998 Tour de France. You can read the article here – http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-2984471/Sky-face-troubling-questions-coach-court-documents-leave-Brailsford-s-zero-tolerance-policy-pressure.html

If Sky genuinely stood behind their policy and their desire to enforce their policy they would have sent someone to the same courts in Reims to review the material that Harris and his colleague worked through (8 boxes comprising 10,000 documents). Instead of this however they chose to only look at a very limited amount of pages, handfuls at most, and refute the allegations as not being ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Convenient.

Today Harris published the next installment which included 7 questions that Sky have directly refused to answer. He went to the trouble of engaging Australian Robin Parisotto who invented the first EPO tests, and they’ve named him as an expert who validates the science behind the allegations. Sky refuses to name the ‘experts’ who they say refute these court-proven allegations. This doesn’t sound like the actions of those who genuinely want the truth; it sounds like a PR position. The latest story is here http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-2995151/New-expert-opinion-Servais-Knaven-s-0-7-EPO-level-Team-Sky-won-t-accept-known-causes-reading-damaged-kidneys-taking-EPO.html

For Sky to manage this in such an incompetent, mealy-mouthed manner, amazes and disappoints me. These guys are good. They appear to have a genuine desire to rid cycling of doping and if they’re serious they’ll come out and acknowledge what we all know went on and reflect that it’s almost impossible to continue the zero tolerance bollocks whilst employing those who competed during the most toxic of days.

This is not about seeking to have Knaven sacked; frankly it’s the reverse. Knaven should feel comfortable enough to tell the truth to his employers about his past experiences and do so comfortable in the fact that he will NOT be fired.

This last week saw the publication of the report by CIRC into a 13 month investigation into issues around doping and corruption in cycling and if Sky were as smart as I think they are, they’d use this opportunity to reframe their policies. Team Sky is James Murdoch’s baby and even he surely can understand what’s reality and signoff on reframed policies?

Zero tolerance for doping in cycling is eminently achievable and admirable for today and for the future. Any thoughts of applying it to the past is laughable or worse; treating the public like idiots.

C’mon Sky. Don’t think we’re all that dumb.

6 comments on "God I hate the hypocrisy"

  1. Skippy on 15 March 2015

    As an Aussie , i am very much aware that there are those , that having gone to Europe , decided to fall into the ” habits ” that just about ALL Sports People were then practicing !

    Even NOW , theere is gOOD Reason to believee that Race Cyclists are being ” FORCED ” to follow practices that they ” claim ” are within the ” WADA Code “!

    Last year i advised YOU of a ” Petition ” i created : ” https://www.facebook.com/AmnestyForAllSportsAthletesNow?
    Well that was a waste of time !

    Reason ? OMERTA !
    Aussie Athletes would rather hold their breathe under water than speak out to AID the Future Athletes , EVEN , their OWN Offspring !

    Am i wrong in thinking that the ” Times of London ” is OWNED by Murdock Empire ? That Newspaper runs a campaign ” Cities fit for CYCLING” ! Yet other Newspapers in that Empire , are the 1st to DENIGRATE Cyclists !

    With so much ” Click bait ” going on in his backyard , is it aNY WONDER , that their “Team SKY ” are so unsure of what they are about ?

    Even NOW , there are those that question the products being used to achieve the SUPER SLIMNESS of Athletes being a contravention of the WADA Code ?

    UCI received a document from ” CIRC ” , that News reports claim was ” Redacted “? IF TRUE , then are we any further forward ?

    Having spoken to Tracey & Brian , i feel sure they want to cUT the links to the PAST , BUT , will the rest of the UCI Staff allow the sweeping changes NEEDED to ensure 100% Compliance with the ” Vision ” that Cookson described in the effort to be elected ?

  2. Karl Collicott on 15 March 2015

    Team Sky. Team Murdoch. Team Control. World Control. Nuff said.

  3. Cosmo on 16 March 2015

    Wow, where to start!?!

    Your sense of outrage at how Sky are handling the present situation is really something. You certainly don’t mince your words and, frankly, I think you’re way off base.

    Team Sky have taken a principled stance, which you don’t happen to agree with, but which they have taken for valid reasons with the interests of clean sport at heart. It baffles me when people like you reserve so much vitriol for a team looking to participate clean and yet you are silent on other World Tour teams who have far worse records when it comes to actually doping in the current environment. Why don’t you call those other teams out first before nitpicking the policies of a team looking to compete the right way?

    It’s not as if Sky have done nothing to investigate their employee. After all it’s their standard they’re holding themselves to so they can interpret it how they see fit. It’s not ‘your’ idea of zero tolerance they have to conform to.

    Regardless, the zero tolerance policy does not define Team Sky. Yes, It is part of what they stand for, but they’re not ramming it down anyone’s throat or taking the moral high ground.

    As for your belief that zero tolerance can be applied to the present day, where do you stand on the likes of known prolific dopers such as Riis and Vinokourov having such a prominent role? I’d rather see them expelled from the sport thereby breaking that association with the past which is holding the sport back…a bit like what Team Sky are trying to do, in fact.

    • Jaimie Fuller SKINS Chairman on 16 March 2015

      Hmmm Cosmo, you seem to misunderstand a lot of what i write.
      1 You claim i don’t agree with Sky’s principled stand. That’s wrong – overall I do. I applaud their attitude to anti-doping. i do not however, agree with the idea that they can have a management team with competition experience in pro cycling during the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s who all are untainted by doping. That just is not realistic. Whilst Sky’s policy may have started with all the best intentions, it has subsequently become a tool to use for PR spin. If they genuinely wanted to know whether Knaven had used doping products (as per their stated policy) then they would have sent someone to investigate the source materials and the new information that has come to light. they didn’t. QED.
      2 You seem to think my objection to Sky is about them being anti doping. You couldn’t be further from the truth. This opinion piece is about hypocrisy. Like i said above, i applaud Sky’s intention re competing clean and my comments do not relate to their principle against doping but to maintaining a public position (spin) that’s unrealistic, unachievable and untenable.
      3 Zero tolerance is zero tolerance. i do not define what it is; it’s self evident. That plus the fact Sky have themselves defined what it is – we have seen the departure from their team of good people who had been ‘tainted’ by their previous experiences. Please do not accuse me of trying to define it; look to their prior actions. However, once you choose to define a policy and apply it, you need to be consistent. My preference is for them to redefine their policy regarding historical doping experiences and apply it consistently in their business.
      4 As for Sky not taking the moral high ground, i have difficulty accepting that when they already fired good people. They have used the policy repeatedly as a marketing and comms tool.
      5 You misinterpret my notion of zero tolerance for present day. Present day zero tolerance refers to no doping right now as opposed to 15 years ago. if Riis and Vinokourov are found to be engaged in doping today then they have no place in cycling. Same goes for Sky and all other teams; not just for today but for tomorrow. My point is that their (and many many others) actions 15 years ago were along with almost the whole peloton’s toxic culture of embracing doping and to judge those who participated in doping all those years ago by today’s standards is something i’m not comfortable with. Of course in life there are varying degrees and that’s not to say we should not take that into account but at the end of the day, i tend not to blame the cyclists for what happened back then but the previous regimes at the UCI. The CIRC report published last week proves the link between the doping culture in cycling and the appalling governance of the Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid eras
      6 Sky’s policy has only resulted in the further entrenchment of omerta. encouraging those guys to come tell the truth, safe in the knowledge that when you do so you will be fired, is not exactly the type of environment that promotes truth. i find no comfort in that approach.
      Agree or disagree as you prefer but i hope at least you have a better understanding of my meaning. i’m sorry if my amateur writing skills resulted in a lack of clarity and some misunderstandings

  4. Cosmo on 16 March 2015

    If I’m Sky, I don’t change my policy because one staff member out of dozens has a question mark against him. There are very few absolutes in life and even something as apparently absolute as zero tolerance is subjective to a degree. Team Sky have, to their own satisfaction, undertaken enquiries and concluded that Knavens can remain on the Team. That’s their decision and, as far as they are concerned, there is nothing to ‘tolerate’. They, of course, can revisit Knavens case should they wish or should anything come to light that they choose to place some store in. However, the type of investigation you are advocating would divert resources including management time and that’s Sky’s decision to make as to whether they stand by their own investigation or widen the scope of their enquiries.

    I don’t believe simply enforcing your publication stated policy is taking the high ground. They knew what the policy was when they joined, presumably lied about their past and then we’re given a further opportunity to come clean at which point the policy was enforced.

    It’s your prerogative to disagree with Sky’s zero tolerance approach and I’m not saying that I entirely agree with it myself.. However, they are not vociferously advocating for their approach to be adopted by others and they aren’t, in my view, trying to take the high ground by reference to other teams efforts (ie they are solely focused on keeping their own team clean). As such, your strength of negative feeling based on one policy reserved for the team possibly doing more than any other to run a clean sport appears slightly at odds with having the sport’s interest at heart which I have no doubt that you do.

    Looks like we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this.

    • Jaimie Fuller SKINS Chairman on 16 March 2015

      fair enuff…