• Dave Brailsford takes questions at Team Sky's pre-Tour press conference.
Team Sky's general manager Dave Brailsford has defended the Tour de France-leading team's decision to employ a soigneur who previously worked for Lance Armstrong's US Postal squad in 1999.
Cycling Central

16 Jul 2015 - 10:30 AM 

Peter Verbeken was hired as a soigneur by the British team in 2012 and now manages the team's service course in Belgium. It has been revealed by the UK-published The Telegraph that Verbeken also worked for US Postal for at least six months during 1999, and potentially for as long as two years.

While there is no evidence that Verbeken was involved with US Postal's doping program, the revelation is a blow for the British team, which has a much-vaunted 'zero tolerance' hiring policy in regards to involvement with doping.

That policy saw sport directors Bobby Julich and Steven de Jongh leave in 2013 after admitting to EPO use during their racing careers. Another sport director, Sean Yates, also left at the same time, citing family reasons. All three men now work for the Tinkoff-Saxo team.

Brailsford told The Telegraph there was no suggestion Verbeken had done anything wrong, and that Verbeken had “gone through our recruitment process like everybody else".

A team spokesperson added that Team Sky's 'zero tolerance' policy is well-known and well-established – nowhere more so than within our own staff, who have all been interviewed extensively about their careers before joining the team.

"We are proud of the part we are playing in creating a new culture for cycling and showing you can win clean.”

The Telegraph argues that Sky’s zero-tolerance policy should make it “ultra cautious” about employing a person linked with the US Postal team, and Verbeken’s employment called into questions Sky’s recruitment process.

The doping program at the US Postal team was described by the US Anti-Doping Agency as "the most sophisticated doping program ever" in the Reasoned Decision into doping and the team, a report which led to Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and also being banned from competition for life.

The latest report comes at sensitive time for Team Sky as it battles to dismiss speculation that 2013 Tour winner and current race leader, Chris Froome, is doping after a particularly dominant performance on Stage 10 of this year's race. While there is no evidence that Froome is doping, or indeed has ever doped, the rider himself has offered to undergo independent testing to prove that he is clean.

Froome open to anti-doping experts as Armstrong claims blame
Current Tour de France leader and 2013 champion Chris Froome has offered to undergo independent testing to prove he isn't doping in the wake of new accusations arising from his dominant performance in Stage 10.

Armstrong has also waded into the debate with a series of tweets about Team Sky's performance on Stage 10. He has also commented that it is "his fault" Froome is under fire.