(Reuters) – Jim Ratcliffe, the co-owner of British cycling team Ineos Grenadiers, said general manager Dave Brailsford has his “full support” in the wake of former team doctor Richard Freeman’s medical tribunal scandal.
Freeman, who worked for the outfit previously known as Team Sky and British Cycling from 2009 to 2017, was found guilty by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service of ordering testosterone “knowing or believing” it to be for an athlete to improve performance.
The athlete has not been named but Freeman’s links to Team Sky during a period of great success cast a cloud over the British outfit.
Freeman has been deemed unfit to practise due to misconduct and permanently struck off the medical register, while there have been calls for Brailsford, who worked for both Team Sky and British Cycling at the time, to be suspended pending an investigation.
“We’ve all got antenna haven’t we?” Ratcliffe told the Telegraph. “Your antenna starts pinging if you’re uncomfortable about something. My antenna doesn’t start pinging when I’m chatting to Dave. Quite the opposite.
“I also know the riders. I know Chris Froome, I know Egan (Bernal) and Geraint (Thomas). I’d be astonished if there’s any of that going on.
“I like Dave … He has my full support. Unless something came up that I was shocked by, he will continue to have my full support.”
Ratcliffe said he would withdraw his funding if he found that his team had cheated.
“My principal concern is where we are now and how we conduct ourselves,” he added. “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 immediately.
“Nothing’s changed in that regard. You haven’t accomplished anything if you’ve done it by cheating.”
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)