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Ratcliffe warns Team Ineos: If you break the rules, we'll leave

Joe Robinson
25 Nov 2019

Billionaire threatens to leave sport if cycling operation turns out to have broken rules. Photo: Offside

Team Ineos financier Sir Jim Ratcliffe has reiterated his point that he would pull out of sponsoring the team if they were found to be breaking rules. The billionaire previously made this statement in May when the takeover from Sky Broadcasting was announced and repeated his point again in a recent interview with The Times.

It comes in light of the ongoing medical tribunal hearing into former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman who is accused of ordering testosterone to the Manchester Velodrome in 2011, with the intention of 'enhancing an athlete's performance'.

Brailsford was head of both Team Sky and British Cycling at the time of the Testogel order, and while Ratcliffe is not fully concerned about the actions of the past, would have no problem in pulling out of sponsorship if any rules were to be broken now.

'Dave will have to deal with that side. I am not interested in the history, just our watch and going forward. If there are any issues for Dave he will have to deal with those. There is nothing happening in our team,' said Ratcliffe.

'Our chief counsel, who looks at compliance across Ineos, was responsible for looking at compliance in cycling. And if he ever tells me he has a concern, that will be it done for us. The day any of that enters our world then we would leave cycling. I don’t think it will.'

The team owner believes that the due diligence of his legal team gave him full trust in the cycling team adding, 'the regulations when we bought, and the procedures in Team Sky, were the most sophisticated and rigorous in the cycling world.'

It is believed Ratcliffe is funding Team Ineos to the tune of £40 million per year, an £8 million increase from the funding of previous sponsors Sky and the highest budget in the WorldTour.

This saw a return of the team's seventh Tour de France title in eight years with Egan Bernal in July, as well as the Tour de Suisse, Tour of Poland and Gran Piemonte one-day race.

Others within the sport have been highly critical of Team Ineos's large budgets, specifically Education First team manager Jonathan Vaughters who has routinely called for a budget cap in order to prevent financial dominance and offer stability in the sport.

However, Ratcliffe sees it differently, claiming this year's Tour to be one of the most exciting in years and the issues with the team's sustained 'success' to be something home fans struggle with.

'People quite like watching Real Madrid, don’t they, or Barcelona?' Ratcliffe said. 'It’s a bit British to say, "You are too successful". It was one of the most exciting Tours in 20, 30 years. Anyone could have won it with five days to go. So I am not worried about that.'