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Shane Sutton is a man who divides opinion; he's either a messianic coach and mentor - or a crude, sexist, bully of a man. For our part he's only ever been polite, friendly and helpful. Given the near hysteria surrounding the mention of the man's name and as part of our 'The First 11 Years of VeloVeritas' series of 'look-backs' we thought you may like to see an interview we did with him after his GB track squad's triumphs in Beijing in 2008.
If you watched the recent live stream of the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing (part of the inquiry into "Combatting Doping in Sport") you'll know the bulk of the session focused on the key question "what was in the jiffy bag?" which was transported from the UK by Simon Cope, handed to Dr. Richard Freeman at the end of the Critérium du Dauphiné, for use by Sir Bradley Wiggins. Committee member John Nicolson (Member of Parliament for East Dunbartonshire and the SNP spokesperson on Culture, Media and Sport) demonstrated an amazing ability to ask logical, 'boiled-down' questions which presented a narrow set of options as answers.
"She’s at it, they all are! And you know she’s at it!" The reaction of a friend of mine when I explained the basics of the Lizzie Armistead case to him – he’s no right-wing balm pot, on the contrary he’s a working class former international sportsman who’s represented Scotland at the highest level. Perhaps if it hadn’t been for Lance feeling sorry for the doubters; Tyler and his phantom twin; Floyd and all that Jack Daniels; Bert and his steak and all the rest he wouldn’t feel that way?
The 'Sutton Saga' has me yet again scratching my head about cycle sport and this nation's attitude towards it. Great rides by Ben Swift and Steve Cummings get hardly a mention but Saturday’s Guardian sports section screams; "The Sutton Saga: 10 questions after a week of crisis." There's one question missing though - 'in a week's time, who'll give a rat's backside?'
Nine World and Eight Olympic titles; that's Team GB's haul for 2008 - so far, that is. That kind of excellence doesn't 'just happen,' who's behind it? The GB head coach is Aussie, Shane Sutton - he was still in Beijing the day after his squad's triumphant campaign ended, when we spoke to him.
Craig Maclean has nine golds and two silvers. That's what Team GB took away from the Manchester World Track Championships, back in April. A repeat performance in Beijing is entirely possible. How does British Cycling do it? One of the reasons is that their selection criteria is ruthless; past glory counts for nothing.