Is Sky giving Michael Rogers a nice escape route?
The team’s Zero Tolerance policy on doping has already led to the terminations of race coach Bobby Julich and director sportif Stephen de Jongh. They admitted to doping during their racing careers after the mandatory grilling by Sky management.
In addition, Sean Yates, who led Bradley Wiggins to a historic Tour de France victory, suddenly decided to retire for health reasons. He wasn’t feeling particularly well after his own interview with team boss David Brailsford. The medical claim was a cardiac issue but it was the heart-to-heart with the big bald guy that led to his resignation.
However, it appears that Rogers, who was an integral part of Wiggin’s tour squad, is being given a more human and respectful push out the door. The Australian vet is now linked to a sudden, last minute move to Saxo-Tinkoff.
The timing of this unexpected team switch is suspicious. Rogers was happy at Sky and had an excellent season yet now he may be headed to Saxo not long after his own doping sit-down with Brailsford.
Like a good many riders, Rogers had in the past worked with the infamous Michele Ferrari, the dope doctor to the stars. In Italy that gets you a micro-suspension of three months but at Sky it’s a death sentence.
If Rogers had been dissatisfied at Sky, he would have signed with Saxo when his significant pile of UCI points would have been a huge advantage. Now the point transfer period is over. They won’t count toward Saxo-Tinkoff’s point total when team owner Bjarne Riis is desperately battling with Argos-Shimano for the final WorldTour spot.
Given the odd and last minute timing and the events surrounding Sky’s Zero Tolerance policy, it’s difficult to see Rogers’ move to Saxo-Tinkoff as anything but a forced exit that allows Rogers to continue his career without revealing any past discretions.
Sky has earned plenty of criticism for the harsh application of their doping policy but they’re giving Rogers a better send-off than Julich or De Jongh. Call it 10% tolerance with a ticket out.