Cycling: Bobby Julich leaves Team Sky as first casualty of zero-tolerance doping policy

 

Sky staff member and former Tour de France podium finisher Bobby Julich has left the team after confessing to using a banned drug as a professional in the late 1990s.

A racing coach with the team, the American ex-pro is the first to quit after Sky announced last week that they would be interviewing all staff and riders so they could sign a document "confirming they have no past or present involvement in doping".

Asked how long this could take and how many remained to be interviewed, a Team Sky spokesman told The Independent today that the process was "ongoing." However, the team principal, Dave Brailsford, said last week it "might take years," and that he had no idea how many people might eventually leave.

Julich was third in the 1998 Tour de France, an Olympic silver medallist in 2004 and a winner of Paris-Nice in 2005, He joined Sky as a coach in 2011, and has been focusing on the squad's team time trialling. In a lengthy confession on the website cyclingnews.com, Julich said he had started taking the banned blood booster EPO from August 1996.

"I knew that it was wrong, but over those two years, the attitude surrounding the use of EPO in the peloton was so casual and accepted that I personally lost perspective of the gravity of the situation."

Julich stopped using it after the 1998 Tour when his wife found out and threatened to leave him. Sky's policy of asking staff with a doping past, however distant, to leave, has come in for a mixed reaction from some leading figures in cycling's fight against doping. Earlier this week, Julich's former team-mate and Garmin manager Jonathan Vaughters criticised Sky's policy, saying: "Management has to do everything they possibly can to prevent that [doping] from occurring. That is their responsibility. I just don't see that team management's responsibility is to chase ghosts from the past."

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