Monster? 'It doesn't exist'

Chris Froome (centre), wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and his Sky team-mates head to the finish line to clinch the British team's third victory in four years. This year's Tour has been dogged by talk of possible doping by Froome but the
Chris Froome (centre), wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and his Sky team-mates head to the finish line to clinch the British team's third victory in four years. This year's Tour has been dogged by talk of possible doping by Froome but the sport's governing body, UCI, says it is on top of the situation. It says it has an arsenal of weapons to keep the sport clean.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Sky chief says critics of Tour winner Froome are wasting time seeking evidence of doping

PARIS • Dave Brailsford has accused those who have questioned Team Sky's methods, and cast doubts over Chris Froome's victory in the Tour de France, of "looking for the Loch Ness Monster".

Froome sealed his win on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday, becoming the first Briton to win the Tour twice and making it three victories in four years for Sky.

The British cycling team's success has bred a degree of resentment and suspicion. But Brailsford rounded on those who question whether Sky are a clean team.

"They should go and spend their time sitting at the side of Loch Ness and waiting for a monster," the team principal said.

"We've still got people camping outside with binoculars saying, 'I'm sure we are going to see the monster tomorrow', but it never appears. It doesn't exist.

NOTHING FISHY GOING ON

They should go and spend their time sitting at the side of Loch Ness and waiting for a monster.

DAVE BRAILSFORD, principal of Team Sky, on the doping accusations facing Tour de France champion Chris Froome

"You can't prove a negative but there is a weight of evidence to show that we are doing it the right way, we are a clean team and Chris is a fantastic champion."

Brailsford added that "it has been disrespectful to come under the criticism and for people to say the things they have said about him with no foundation".

The Kenya-born rider has had to face incessant questioning about doping during the Tour, based on his fine performances rather than any evidence.

In his victory speech from the podium, Froome sought to assure fans, many disillusioned by widespread doping, that they could believe in him.

"The Maillot Jaune is special, very special," he said in a prepared speech. "I understand its history, good and bad, and I will always respect it, never dishonour it and I'll always be proud to have won it."

Such suspicion has highlighted how far cycling must go to regain public trust. But Brian Cookson, president of governing body UCI, insisted that the sport is leading the way in anti-doping.

He cited biological passports, the advent of night-time tests and enhanced intelligence-based testing as proof of progress by UCI in the fight against the cheats.

"All I can say is I believe we have the best anti-doping procedures of any professional sport anywhere in the world," he said.

"People shouldn't look at our sport, they should look at other sports and see what levels of scrutiny those sports people are under."

The UCI is under pressure to add to the anti-doping arsenal by implementing a "power passport" that would track riders' performances, and wattage output, to detect suspicious improvements.

Sky are among the teams who have said they would hand over all training and racing data on a confidential basis to be scrutinised by independent experts.

Cookson said he would consider the proposal but had his doubts about effectiveness.

"I think there is a danger in drawing conclusions from power data," he said.

"I'm no expert but I can see inconsistencies in the interpretation."

Accused of going missing by many team leaders during the various controversies of the Tour, Cookson said he was simply remaining impartial.

"I don't think it's our job to be the public relations agency for any team, rider or race," he countered.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'Monster? 'It doesn't exist''. Print Edition | Subscribe