Brailsford softens his stance?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Blurring the message

Something tells me July didn’t exactly follow the spreadsheet scenarios designed by Team Sky. The only success was Stage 3 of the Brixia Tour and I bet you don’t even know where Brixia is.

Faced with the need for success Team Sky’s mastermind Dave Brailsford says in an interview with French sports daily L’Equipe that he’s considering relaxing his standards when it comes to hiring managers.

At the start, I didn’t want anyone who’d been caught up in a doping scandal, but as soon as you look for someone aged over 35 with lots of experience, you won’t find anyone without a few worries. Maybe I’m going to have to reappraise my judgements*

I’m not sure if this was the right thing to say given that doping is a black and white thing, either you stand firm or you blur the message.

I could be mischievous and say he’s desperate for success but that’s probably not the point. For me he is just reminding us that that the sport is riddled with ex-riders who will have picked up bad habits. Trying to find someone beyond this is a tough call. Riders can change of course, for example ex-Festina rider Didier Rous is a DS with Bbox these days and few would say he’s a bad influence.

No, for me the point here is more one of image and perception, BBox never shouted about being clean, they just quietly went about things. By contrast Team Sky and Brailsford have been vociferous about their anti-doping stance and have been open about wanting to be held to the highest standards. Therefore recruiting questionable staff can only tarnish the image. If you want to be whiter than white, then you can’t afford the smallest of stains.

* Presumably quoted in English, translated into French for L’Equipe and now I’ve put it back into English so the words might not be identical.

Duncan July 27, 2010 at 10:14 am

If that's the case, it's sad to read. There *are* people out there able to cope in a team car who have not got a suspect past.

TheInnerRing July 27, 2010 at 10:27 am

Hi Duncan, it's a horrible example to use but Manolo Saiz was one of the best tacticians of recent years but he never raced a bike at a high amateur level, yet alone as a pro.

What I'm saying is that you don't have to pick an ex-pro. Yes race experience counts but you need leadership, motivational skills, intelligence and other factors too. Just because you raced a decade ago doesn't qualify you for the job.

I presume Brailsford knows this but for me, we need more outsiders, not those with a shoddy past. I'd strongly advise him to pick capable people with a healthy track record.

John Sutton July 27, 2010 at 10:59 am

Well said. The Footon Servetto team got around without needles or syringes this year, and Valls Ferri arguably had a better time in the mountains than any of the Sky riders. Wouldn't it be better for Dave to say that he got his preparation wrong? I'm all for the rehabilitation of offenders, but if you're going to take the moral high ground you have to stick with your policy otherwise you just look foolish.

Anonymous July 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm

This isn't the first softening.

Yates was a DS at Discovery and Astana with voodoo man Bruyneel.

Brailsford went soft on Michael Barry, he stuck his fingers in his ears here.

It can all come back to bite you. What if Barry or Yates get caught out by the investigation and fallout from the US Postal investigation?

Anonymous July 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm

TheInnerRing: I concur that it is possible and I guess needed to get some experts from the "outside". That might bring in new perspectives and fresh ideas and maybe weaken the grip of the omerta. And a DS doesn't necessarily needs to be an ex-pro nor is better qualified being an ex-pro, but one cannot completely work without/ignore their knowledge. And there is the dilemma. If we are honest with ourselves all riders who started riding in the end of the 80s and during the 90s have a taint of suspicion. Some more or less but you won't find any rider without a suspect past.

Alex July 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Personally I don't mind where he finds his staff as long as they are happy to talk openly about what, if anything, they were up to in the past. Anyone who says "I don't want to talk about the past" is upholding omertà and suspicious imo.

Alex July 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm

btw – I think "Brailsford softens his stance" is a little misleading when he's only mused about possibly reappraising his judgements.

TheInnerRing July 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Fair point Alex, it's not as if he's signed somebody of questionable repute. I'll edit the title for fairness.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: