Drug testers can search "knickers drawer" says GB cycling boss

Dave Brailsford defends his team

Dave Brailsford, the man behind the British team that won nine gold medals at the World Track Cycling Championships, is so confident his team are drugs-free he has issued an extraordinary challenge to doping officials ahead of August's Beijing Olympics.

"They can hire who the hell they want and they can then come into us, access all areas, turn up at any time, go into anybody's house, go into their missus's (wives') knickers drawer if they want to - no human rights," said Brailsford.

"They can do what they want."

British Cycling performance director Brailsford almost quit his post a day into the world championships when Rob Hayles, an Olympic silver medallist, was barred from competing because of a doping anomaly.

Hayles was temporarily suspended for 14 days after the volume of red blood cells in his blood (haematocrit) was found to be over the threshold of 50 permitted by the UCI, cycling's world governing body - an indication, though not proof, of blood manipulation.

"I questioned my job then - for 24 hours I was going to quit," Brailsford, who has held his post since 2003, recalled. "I thought, 'I'm not doing this any more ... everyone's going to think it's been done under false pretences.'

Brailsford added: "If, as I suspected, Rob hadn't done anything - even then I couldn't see how we could come out of the situation with any grace."

Hayles must now undergo further tests during the next four weeks. In the meantime Brailsford was heartened by the way the 35-year-old responded to questions from his wife.

"She asked him on the phone point blank: 'Have you done anything?'

"It was just something I didn't want to hear - it was like an invasion of privacy but equally I was quite glad I did hear it because I thought, 'If he's going to tell the truth he's going to tell his wife.'

"He's got a young child and she was telling him, 'You better not have jeopardised what we've got.' And the way he spoke kind of gave me a lot of strength because he didn't sound like he was lying."

Great Britain's record haul in Manchester, which also included two silver medals, made them the team to beat in Beijing. But Brailsford said their success had not erased fully the pain he felt at Hayles's removal.

"I'm hurt by it, yeah. You can't get that shaken and just brush it off."

© AFP 2008

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