Steven de Jongh has stepped down from his role as Team Sky’s sporting director after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs during his career, the British team announced on Monday.
“Steven de Jongh has left Team Sky following three seasons as sports director,” a statement from Team Sky said. “After the team reaffirmed its position on anti-doping, Steven disclosed that he had taken a banned substance earlier in his career as a professional rider.”
De Jongh, 38, wrote in a letter published on www.cyclingweekly.co.uk that his decision to dope was an individual one, not something imposed on him by ambitious team chiefs.
“I’ve been shocked by the stories and rumors of organized doping programs because I’ve simply never seen anything like that. My experience was very different. My doping was done by me, and nobody ever forced me. Of course, I always knew it was wrong and was scared of the risks I was taking. And I will always regret what I did,” De Jongh said.
“I took EPO on a few occasions from 1998 to 2000. It was very easy to get hold of and I knew it couldn’t be detected. With the steps we’ve been taking in cycling there is a better chance than ever to compete in a clean sport,” he added.
De Jongh, who enjoyed modest success as a rider before retiring in 2009, is the third staff member to leave the team after Sky announced a zero-tolerance stance on doping in the aftermath of the Lance Armstrong scandal.
Senior sports director Sean Yates announced his retirement from professional cycling on Sunday, while American Bobby Julich left the squad last week after admitting that he took banned blood-booster EPO during his racing career.
Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford said: “There’s no doubt about Steven’s work with us or his approach. He’s been a highly valued sports director and colleague over three seasons.
“Steven deserves our respect for the courage he’s shown in being honest about the past and it’s right that we do our best to support him. He has our best wishes for the next step in his career,” Brailsford said.
SAXO BANK SWEAT
Alberto Contador’s Saxo Bank team must wait to find out if they are to be included in the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) WorldTour division for next year after their omission from the UCI’s provisional list of 15 teams released on Monday.
Saxo Bank failed to make the initial cut based on sporting merit, which took into account each team’s top 12 riders under contract for next year’s season.
The Danish outfit were unable to count Contador’s points as a result of the Spaniard’s doping suspension, resulting in them being ranked 20th and leaving them as one of five teams that will vie for the final three places in cycling’s top tier.
The UCI revealed that it will announce shortly after the Nov. 1 deadline the registration of the UCI ProTeams with a valid WorldTour license for next year that have satisfied all criteria — including ethical, financial and administrative. The remaining teams will be subject to a thorough evaluation by the License Commission, with the first decisions taken on Friday last week and the final decisions made on Dec. 10.
The 15 top teams included (alphabetical order): AG2R La Mondiale (France), Astana (Kazakhstan), BMC (US), Cannondale (Italy), Euskaltel (Spain), ex-Rabobank (Netherlands), Garmin (US), Katusha (Russia), Lampre (Italy), Movistar (Spain), Omega Pharma (Belgium), Orica (Australia), RadioShack (US), Sky (Britain), Vacansoleil (Netherlands).
Teams ranked 16th to 20th (in numerical order): Argos, Lotto, FDJ-BigMat, Europcar, Saxo Bank
WIGGINS UP TO THIRD
AP, AIGLE, Switzerland
Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins has been awarded third place in the 2009 race by the International Cycling Union in the fallout from the removal of Lance Armstrong from the sport’s record books for doping.
The UCI ruled last week that Armstrong’s seven straight Tour wins from 1999 to 2005 would not be reallocated, unlike those from his comeback years, after the American chose not to fight the US Anti-Doping Agency’s doping evidence.
The UCI said on Monday that Wiggins has risen one spot to replace Armstrong as the third-place finisher in 2009.
The agency recently reported extensive evidence that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs during all seven Tour victories. The UCI accepted the sanctions, included stripping Armstrong of his titles.
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