The betrayal of cycling by Team Sky, now Ineos Grenadiers, runs deeper than most of the other betrayals that litter the sport as they got there 11 years ago promising they were different. Yes, I know, you’re right: that’s what they all say.
They all say they are different. They say they are there to clean up the sport. They say they will win fairly. They say they will not compromise their principles. They say that they are not like the others and that they never will be. This is the first layer of pretense. The topcoat of the deception veneer.
And when the Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service (MPTS) delivered its decision in a hearing on Friday and found Dr Richard Freeman, a central figure in the dominance of Team Sky and British Cycling for much of the past decade , guilty of ordering a ban on testosterone ‘knowing or believing’ it was to be used to dope a runner, he redesigned the history of sport in this country.
Dr Richard Freeman convicted of ordering a ban on testosterone ‘knowing or believing’ it should be given to a runner to improve athletic performance
We were force-fed by the idea that the dominance of Team Sky and British Cycling was based on the blue sky thinking of people like Sir Dave Brailsford and the science of marginal gains.
WE wanted to believe it and so we believed it. But the fear now, the fear that stalks British sport and haunts the memories of so many golden nights in waterproof velodromes that sealed the cheers and sunny afternoons in France, is that we were as bad as any other. The fear is that our successes have been built on sand. That they were fueled by illegal performance enhancing drugs.
Dr Freeman, the MPTS decided, realized that the best way to get a gain – which may or may not be more than marginal – was to order a delivery of Testogel sachets. He was painted in the hours following the verdict, by Ineos Grenadiers among others, as a rogue operator, a lone wolf. Which is practical. And which also defies credulity.
“It is very clear from their report,” an Ineos Grenadiers statement said on Friday, “that Richard Freeman failed to meet the ethical standards required of him as a doctor and acted dishonestly. team don’t think an athlete has ever used or sought to use Testogel or any other performance enhancing substance.
The statement reminded me of the lyrics to a song that said “I cover my ears like a child”. Sung by Naughty Boy. What intrigues me most of all about the tortured downfall of Freeman, once a celebrity doctor at British Cycling and Team Sky, is that he was the only one who felt the heat. Remember that much of the ethics of Brailsford’s reign at the helm of both organizations was fanatical, microscopic attention to detail.
This is why, we were told, both organizations have been so successful. This, we were told, was the revolutionary part of it all. Remember how everyone got sucked into marginal gains? We were beating everyone because Sir Bradley Wiggins was sleeping in a bed with a really comfortable mattress and a magic pillow? And our riders wore thinner jerseys than Australian cyclists? And we bought into it all. Because we wanted to.
In reality, fringe gains started to be seen as a crowd-pleasing face some time ago, when it became apparent that Team Sky had been pushing the boundaries of sports ethics with unabashed cynicism. They played the system: their rider, Wiggins, was granted therapeutic use (legal) authorizations, or TUEs, for triamcinolone injections in 2011, 2012 and 2013 before three big rounds.
Brailsford has worked for Team Sky (pictured), now Ineos Grenadiers, since 2010
It’s a thing. Friday’s MPTS decision takes disillusionment to another level and faith in what has been achieved by UK cyclists is an inevitable victim. The point is, in an organization that prided itself on attention to detail, said to be the best in the world of sport, how is that doable, how is it even possible from a distance, that Freeman acts on his own. unbeknownst to others? This idea is an insult to intelligence.
Perhaps Brailsford was not aware of this delivery of Testogel to the Manchester velodrome in May 2011. Perhaps he was not aware of the infamous Jiffy bag delivered from British Cycling headquarters to the Team bus. Sky at the Critérium du Dauphiné 2011 and its equally infamous unknown content.
Maybe his leadership was so weak and ineffective that other members of these organizations just did what they wanted without his leadership. But these things were still happening under his watch.
So far he has kept his head down and his mouth shut in the apparent hope that it would all go away. This is often the way he handles difficult times. But now that Freeman has been convicted, none of that is going to go away.
Brailsford (right, with Chris Froome) has previously been hailed as one of Britain’s sporting giants
This moment marks the defrocking of one of British sport’s greatest stories. It’s a ‘Say it’s not so’ moment. This is the moment when the building collapses.
Brailsford was once considered a modern sports management guru. He has been hailed as one of the giants of British sport, spoke in the same breath as Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Clive Woodward. Some worshiped him and only saw what he wanted them to see. In contrast, others went so far as to refuse to cover the Rio Olympics in 2016 because they did not want to write about achievements they did not believe in.
Some still see him as a hero but when a medical hearing decides that his former team doctor, one of his relatives, is guilty of ordering sachets of Testogel to dope one of his runners, he does not It’s not unreasonable to suggest that these are indeed times we’ve recalibrated Sir Dave’s reputation. Rest, Sir Dave. Stand up, Mr. Asterisk.
Moyes’ progress puts United in the shadows
Manchester United’s seven-year itch is heading for eight and they still haven’t scratched him. It was in May 2013 when Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated his club’s last league title and headed for the center circle to deliver a message to a crowded Old Trafford. “.
This “new manager”, of course, what David Moyes and Sunday he will return to Old Trafford at the head of West Ham. It took him that long to regain his reputation after a bogus restart at Real Sociedad and a sobering mishap at Sunderland.
United are returning to where they aspire to be under the quietly impressive leadership of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But they are now 14 points behind Manchester City and it is clear that, while Moyes’ rehabilitation is almost complete, United still have a way to go.
David Moyes returns to Old Trafford after restoring his reputation with his work at West Ham
They were crippled by the decision making of Executive Vice President Ed Woodward, who was blinded by the glamor of big names like Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. It took Solskjaer a while to clean up the mess left by Mourinho, in particular, but at least United’s recruiting record has improved.
Woodward, who was very much mistaken, deserves credit for staying with Solskjaer when many asked for him to be sacked.
United are getting there but not as fast as West Ham. Over the past season, Moyes did what seemed impossible and injected heart and soul into a club that seemed intent on selling that soul as quickly and as cynically as possible.