Wiggins will ‘shock people’ when he has his say on ‘mystery package’

Sir Dave Brailsford and Sir Bradley Wiggins at the Giro d'Italia in 2013

Sir Dave Brailsford and Sir Bradley Wiggins at the Giro d’Italia in 2013

Sir Bradley Wiggins says he will “shock a few people” when he has his say on an investigation into a “mystery package” delivered for him in 2011.

Wiggins, 36, said controversy over the package delivered while he was riding for Team Sky had been “horrible”.

UK Anti-Doping is investigating doping claims but there is no suggestion either Wiggins or Team Sky broke rules.

“It’s the worst thing to be accused of when you’re a man of my integrity,” Wiggins told Sky Sports’ Soccer AM.

“It’s been horrible. But fortunately there’s an investigation and I obviously can’t say too much because that investigation will run its course and then I’ll have my say.

“There’s a lot to say, and it’s going to shock a few people.”

  • QA: Cycling inquiry ‘mystery package’

Team Sky have admitted “mistakes were made” over the delivery of the package at the Criterium du Dauphine but deny breaking anti-doping rules.

However they have been unable to provide records to back up the claim by team boss Sir Dave Brailsford that Wiggins was given a legal decongestant.

The original allegation made to Ukad was that the package delivered by then-British Cycling coach Simon Cope to ex-Team Sky medic Dr Richard Freeman in 2011 contained anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone.

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Watch: Brailsford’s tense grilling on Team Sky

Britain’s most decorated Olympian, an asthma sufferer, was granted a TUE to take triamcinolone before the 2011 Tour de France, his 2012 Tour win and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) has sought answers relating to the package and also Wiggins’ use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs). MPs have also criticised the team’s record-keeping.

Team Sky have said they are “confident” no wrongdoing will be found when the inquiry is concluded.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/39391760

Wendy Houvenaghel: British Cycling had ‘medal at any cost’ culture

BBC Sport

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Wendy Houvenaghel ‘oppressed’ by British Cycling

A “medal at any cost” approach created a “culture of fear” at British Cycling, says former rider Wendy Houvenaghel.

The Olympic silver medallist accused the organisation of “ageism” and having “zero regard” for her welfare.

She is the latest high-profile cyclist to come forward after Jess Varnish, Nicole Cooke and Emma Pooley criticised the World Class programme.

Houvenaghel told the BBC she felt “vindicated” by a leaked draft report detailing British Cycling’s failures.

The report said British Cycling “sanitised” its own investigation into claims former technical director Shane Sutton used sexist language towards Varnish, who went public last April about her treatment.

British Cycling subsequently admitted it did not pay “sufficient care and attention” to the wellbeing of staff and athletes at the expense of winning medals, an approach Houvenaghel attested to in her BBC interview.

Both Sutton and predecessor Sir Dave Brailsford have now left British Cycling.

Houvenaghel, 42, spoke to BBC Sport during its State of Sport week, which on Thursday examines the issue of athlete welfare versus a win-at-all-costs culture.

A government-commissioned review, headed by 11-time Paralympic champion Baroness Grey-Thompson, into safety and wellbeing in British sport, is due to be published imminently.

It is expected to recommend significant reforms designed to improve the way athletes are treated by governing bodies.

Houvenaghel claimed:

  • She felt “oppressed” by both Sutton and Brailsford, describing the training environment as “horrid”.
  • Sexism and “ageism” were prevalent at British Cycling.
  • She put up with the situation because “if you rocked the boat, you were out”.
  • She was “discarded” by British Cycling after London 2012 despite six years of “constantly” winning medals at major championships.

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Wendy Houvenaghel (left) won team pursuit gold with Laura Trott and Dani King at the 2011 World Championships

British Cycling’s response

British Cycling said it “has acknowledged and takes very seriously previous cultural and governance failings in the World Class Programme”.

It said it has accepted the draft report’s findings and already put into a place a 39-point action plan to “systematically address the cultural and behavioural shortcomings”.

The statement added: “Our new chair Jonathan Browning has apologised for instances where we have fallen short in our commitment to athlete welfare and has offered to meet with anyone who can help improve British Cycling.”

Who else has spoken out?

  • Varnish spoke about the culture she experienced within British Cycling, after she was dropped from the elite programme last April.
  • She claimed Sutton used sexist language towards her.
  • The Australian, who quit in the wake of Varnish’s allegations, was found to have used the word “bitches” when describing female riders.
  • In January, Nicole Cooke told MPs British Cycling was run “by men for men” and its attempts to stop doping were “ineffective”.
  • This month, Emma Pooley criticised Brailsford’s leadership, saying “a fish rots from the head”.

The background

Houvenaghel won silver in the individual pursuit at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and gold in the World Championship team pursuit in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

She retired in 2014, aged 39, after withdrawing from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with a back injury.

Houvenaghel was critical of both Sutton and her team-mates in the aftermath of the London 2012 Olympics, where she was left out of all three team pursuit races as Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell-Shand won gold in a world record time.

Speaking to BBC Sport this week, the Northern Irish rider said that experience was “very traumatic” and she felt “torment” at having “no explanation” for her last-minute omission.

At the time, Brailsford, then performance director, defended the selection saying they had to “take the personal element out of it, and look at the data and be professional”.

He added: “I think when a team steps up and makes six world records on the trot and a gold medal, then I don’t think you can argue with that.”

British Cycling reiterated that point on Thursday, adding it was “proud to support Wendy in what was a wonderfully successful cycling career” and she was “part of a pioneering generation of riders who set new standards of excellence”, but was dropped in London 2012 “based on her performance”.

Houvenaghel ‘bullied, harassed and frozen out’

Other elite cyclists, including King and Roswell-Shand have praised the leadership at British Cycling.

Asked whether she was simply not good enough for the 2012 team, Houvenaghel replied: “It was definitely not about performance. I don’t think the fastest team on the day were permitted to race.

“There are certain chosen riders on the team who will not have experienced the culture of fear and will not have been on the receiving end of that – the bullying, the harassment, being frozen out of opportunities.

“It was horrid – it was not the training environment I expected. There was no choice. If you rocked the boat, you were out. There was no alternative.

“Medals at any cost, that’s how it was whenever I was there, certainly in 2012.”

Houvenaghel said she also witnessed the sexism that has been highlighted by other female riders, and also claims she was discriminated against because of her age.

“I can certainly relate to the bullying,” she said. “For me personally, I felt it was more ageism – being a little bit older than my team-mates, it didn’t seem to be something that the staff necessarily wanted for our team in 2012.

“They didn’t care about what happened to me afterwards. I never heard another thing from them.

“After six years of constantly medalling at World Cups, World Championships, nationals, both on the track and on the road, they discarded me in a very undignified way from the team, which I don’t feel was right.”

Winning over welfare?

Fourteen-time Paralympic gold medallist Dame Sarah Storey told BBC Sport that elite level sport in Britain is “cut-throat” but there are “no excuses for crossing that line” into bullying.

Asked about the balance between winning and athlete welfare, the 39-year-old replied: “It’s a really difficult question because you have to be a human being, you have to allow for people to make mistakes. But the currency is race wins, the currency is gold medals.

“It’s not an excuse but you have to have a thick skin in sport, you have to be able to take the rough with the smooth because of the racing that you go through.

“But there are no excuses for crossing that line, and if those lines have been crossed they will be found out and they’ll be dealt with.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/39339718

Team Wiggins ‘surprised’ by Tour de Yorkshire snub

Sir Bradley Wiggins

Wiggins himself rode in last year’s Tour de Yorkshire for his team

Team Wiggins say they are “surprised” and “disappointed” after being excluded from next month’s Tour de Yorkshire.

The team, founded by five-time Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins to develop young British talent, was omitted from the race which runs from 28-30 April.

“It’s very disappointing and it is very much a surprise,” said the team’s sports director Simon Cope.

Race organisers said the event was oversubscribed and “unfortunately someone had to miss out”.

A total of 49 teams applied for 36 slots – 18 in the men’s race and 18 in the women’s.

The decision on who was included was made between Welcome to Yorkshire and cycling event organisers ASO, who jointly run the event.

A Welcome to Yorkshire spokesman said that Team Wiggins were welcome to apply for any future editions of the race.

But Cope told Cycling Weekly that he believed the team, who are the only British third-tier UCI Continental outfit not included, could have made an impact in the race.

“Good or bad press at the moment, there’s a percentage of the UK population who will be going to the race who want to see (Team) Wiggins there,” he said.

“You would have thought that we would have got in, but the organisers have made their selection and that’s it, we can’t do anything about it. We will have to go and find another bike race to do.”

An investigation by UK Anti-Doping is currently ongoing into allegations of wrongdoing in cycling involving Wiggins – who retired in December – and Team Sky.

Cope, who used to work for Team Sky, was questioned by MPs earlier this month about the contents of a medical package he delivered to Wiggins when he was racing at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine in France.

Team Sky have admitted “mistakes were made” around how medical records relating to the package were kept but deny breaking anti-doping rules.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/39357541

Sport England warning to British Cycling over funding decision

Manchester Velodrome

British Cycling has found itself under scrutiny in recent times

British Cycling has been warned it needs to do more to ease “concerns” over the way it is run before it can receive £17m of funding.

Sport England, which funds grassroots sport, said it wanted cycling’s governing body to “meet the highest standards of governance” first.

Earlier this month, British Cycling chairman Jonathan Browning apologised for “failings” at the organisation.

That followed accusations of bullying and sexism against elite cyclists.

An investigation into those alleged failings in the culture of British Cycling has been carried out and a report into the findings is due imminently – though a draft version of the report was leaked last week.

“The current draft report raises concerns about decision-making within that governing body,” said Nick Bitel, Sport England’s chair.

British Cycling says it has started work on an action plan to address problems in the organisation.

But, following a meeting of the Sport England board on Tuesday, Bitel added: “We decided that more work on their action plan was required.”

Sport governing bodies must comply with a Code for Sports Governance before they can access funding. The £17m that British Cycling is scheduled to receive is intended for grassroots sport.

“We need to ensure that all sports organisations that receive public funding meet the highest standards of governance,” said Bitel.

“We will need to consider the final report of the Cycling Independent Review, and a more developed version of British Cycling’s action plan on governance, before our board makes a decision about any additional requirements we might put in place,” he added.

“We anticipate this position being reached within the next month.”

Analysis

Dan Roan, BBC sports editor

British Cycling has been warned. A recent leaked draft of a major report into the sport’s high-performance culture questioned whether its board was “fit to govern a national sporting body”.

That seems to have made an impression on Sport England, and unless it soon sees more extensive reforms, it may demand that British Cycling’s new chairman Jonathan Browning is replaced. That £17m of funding is on the line.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/39347163

Volta a Catalunya: Davide Cimolai wins opening stage in sprint finish

Davide Cimolai wins Volta a Catalunya opening stage

Cimolai (right) edged out Bouhanni (left) to claim the second Volta a Catalunya stage win of his career

Italian rider Davide Cimolai claimed a narrow victory in a sprint finish on the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya in Spain.

The FDJ rider edged out Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni, of Team Cofidis, at the end of Monday’s 179km stage in Calella.

Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde – the favourites for victory in the seven-stage race – finished safely in the pack.

Tuesday’s stage is a 41.3km team time trial in Banyoles.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/39333142

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