iainf72 wrote:The biggest problem with this is that in the grand scheme of things, Sky and Walsh have the same employers.
I might be alone in not thinking this is a problem.
The assumption is that the Murdochs will want to protect their investment in Team Sky and could do this by exercising editorial influence on Walsh.
Firstly, I don't think Walsh is so easily swayed that he'll allow that to happen, secondly, if he really did find something truly suspicious then even blocking it in The Times isn't going to stop it coming out.
But if we dig a little deeper, then the idea that the Murdochs would want to cover up any nasty business in the team isn't really supportable.
Sky were launched and funded as a clean British team. This went to the extent of the Murdoch imposed (so we're told, I'm happy to believe it, can't remember if I've seen it documented) zero tolerance policy. It's a policy that has drawn scorn from many, not for its intended purpose of creating a clean team but for the method it uses to do so. The argument is that zero tolerance encourages riders and staff to lie, when actually we want them to be honest and open about doping. Its actually a very good argument, there clearly are problems with zero tolerance.
But somehow, along the way, we've gone from the idea that zero tolerance is a misguided but well intentioned policy to the idea that zero tolerance is some sort of evil harm against cycling that's been imposed by a megalomaniac evil owner. It isn't, though the owner may well be as described...
Zero tolerance was necessary for Sky. They needed it to sell the team to a wider British audience who know little about cycling other than the doping headlines that occasionally make the front pages. These aren't people who you can explain the nuances of the situation to, they're not that involved and they're not that interested. They just want an assurance that if they cheer for someone then they won't be embarrassed by a doping headline later.
Now given Julich, Barry etc. it may not have played out that way, and questions can certainly be asked about due diligence when hiring them, but lets face it, you have to set the evidential bar somewhere and neither had an actual suspension.
But to get to the point, if there was doping on Sky, and Walsh found it, then what would Murdoch do - cover it up, or publish (assuming an all powerful editorial ability to do either)?
He'd publish. Here's why:
He can cut his losses and get out. The project requires the team is clean, he cant sell it otherwise. If there's doping then it will come out at some point and he'd have to pull the plug then. Better to have some influence in managing the information, uncovering the problem, and being seen to be proactive in tackling it. Last time they tried a cover up they had to close a newspaper.
Murdoch can use Walsh as an internal audit, it's a win-win situation. If Walsh comes back with "I'm impressed, I really do think they're clean" then everybody bar a few tin-foil hats will be reasonably satisfied. If he comes back with "I saw Wiggins looking a like a porcupine, needles hanging out of every square inch of his body" then it will be easy to play it as a massive betrayal of Murdoch personally, and Sky the sponsors, by the team. "We are shocked and appalled, we entered this in good faith, blah blah blah". That is the least worst case for uncovering doping on a team: we investigated, we found it, we won't allow it.
That's what you get for having a media owner as sponsor, they're at least media savvy. Saxo-Tinkoff are showing sponsors the world over how not to handle possible doping on their team.