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Ineos Grenadiers owner Jim Ratcliffe fully backs team manager Dave Brailsford despite recent rulings by a British medical board that a former team doctor ordered performance-enhancing products for an unnamed cyclist.
That’s according to an interview in the British daily The Telegraph.
“This happened what, 10 years ago?” Ratcliffe told The Telegraph. “My principal concern is where we are now and how we conduct ourselves now.
“I was very clear, right from the beginning, that if there was ever any sense of that going on in our team, I’d walk away from it immediately,” Ratcliffe said. “And nothing’s changed in that regard. In my opinion, you haven’t accomplished anything if you’ve done it by cheating. There’s no honor in that.”
Earlier this month, a British medical board ruled that former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman ordered banned testosterone knowing or believing it was to be given to a rider for the purposes of doping.
The charges date back to 2011, a year before Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France and the Olympic Games in London.
Freeman accepted 18 of 22 charges against him relating to the ordering of a package of Testogel to British Cycling headquarters in 2011 but denied the central charge regarding its purpose.
That ruling has sent shockwaves across British sport. British cyclists emerged over the past decade to dominate both road racing and track racing, winning a trove of Olympic medals as well as seeing three British riders win the Tour de France.
Also at the center of the controversy is Ineos Grenadiers principal Brailsford, who formerly led British Cycling as well as founded Team Sky in 2010. So far, besides a prepared public statement, Brailsford has remained out of the spotlight in the wake of the latest rulings.
Also read: British PM calls for Brailsford to step down
Some have called for Brailsford to step down, but the latest comments from Ratcliffe suggest Brailsford’s position at the top of cycling’s richest team could be safe.
“He has my full support,” Ratcliffe said. “Unless something came up that I was shocked by, he will continue to have my full support.”
Ratcliffe, reportedly among the UK’s wealthiest people, joined as title sponsor in 2019 under his Ineos banner of companies. Grenadiers — a new 4×4 vehicle from a company that Ratcliffe is bank-rolling — joined later.
“It comes back to this debate we had when we first took over. Cycling has a mixed history, a reputation. But assuming it’s now clean as a sport, you shouldn’t consign it to the dustbin, should you?” he said. “Like athletics, or football, it’s a fantastic sport and that’s why, ultimately, we decided to support it.”