Questions remain over Wiggins package, says MP

Bradley Wiggins

Sir Bradley Wiggins won his fifth Olympic gold medal in Rio in 2016

British Cycling has been unable to provide paperwork to prove the contents of a medical package delivered to Sir Bradley Wiggins in France in 2011, MP Damian Collins says.

Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford told MPs earlier in December the package contained a decongestant but did not have supporting documentary evidence.

“What we hoped we might get is a paper trail – it should be really simple,” Collins told the BBC’s Today programme.

“But clearly that doesn’t exist.”

Collins, chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, was speaking the day after five-time Olympic champion Wiggins announced his retirement at the age of 36.

He added: “It seems difficult to get precise records about what was in this package, why it was ordered – the detail you would want to know.

“Good practice in a case like this should be that these sort of records are kept, and therefore it’s very easy to identify what’s been couriered, what’s been requested.”

British Cycling’s president Bob Howden told the Today programme he was unable to “talk in detail” about the case as it is subject to an ongoing UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) investigation.

He said that information about how the package was physically sent to Team Sky had been provided to the select committee, such as details of flights and other transportation, but stopped short of elaborating on the “exact medical requirements that were in place”.

“The medical records are under the control of Ukad at the moment,” he said. “The whole medical room at Manchester is under lockdown. We physically can’t comment in respect of what that information is.”

He added that British Cycling was “working towards” providing evidence for the contents of the package. “Our aim is to achieve that certainly,” he added.

  • Sir Dave Brailsford defends use of TUEs
  • Ex-Team Sky rider questions TUE stance

Team Sky have been under pressure to reveal the contents of the package following a Daily Mail allegation.

The package in question was delivered via courier to Team Sky on the final day of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, and just weeks before the start of that year’s Tour de France.

It contained the decongestant Fluimucil, which is legal in sport and was intended for then-Team Sky cyclist Wiggins – who went on to win the seven-day race.

The Daily Mail reports that it has seen evidence showing that it took four days and £600 in travel costs for British Cycling coach Simon Cope to courier the package to the French Alps.

But Collins said that the decongestant was “readily available in France and could easily be obtained”.

“If it’s as simple as that, why get a British Cycling coach to courier it from Manchester, via London to Geneva, when you could have just gone to a pharmacy in France and bought it over the counter?” he said.

“The answer we were given was that it can sometimes be easier and quicker if you know someone is coming out just to bring it from the British Cycling store in Manchester.

“But in this case, looking at the records we saw yesterday, it would appear that that process would have taken several days. A lot of people looking at this say that it just looks odd.”

Speaking to Cycling News in October, Cope said he “didn’t have a clue” what was in the package he was tasked with taking to France, adding that there was “no way” British Cycling would attempt to take “something dodgy or illegal” through customs.

“It’s just not going to happen,” he said. “You have to go through two sets of customs. Why are you going to take the risk?”

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Bradley Wiggins: ‘This was about putting myself back on a level playing field’

Why is Wiggins under scrutiny?

Wiggins and Team Sky were under scrutiny in September 2016 for his use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), after his confidential medical information was leaked by hackers ‘Fancy Bears’.

TUEs allow the use of banned substances if athletes have a genuine medical need, and Wiggins, an asthma sufferer, said he sought them to “put himself back on a level playing field”.

Wiggins was granted a TUE to take anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone before the 2011 Tour de France, his 2012 Tour win and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

Wiggins’ TUEs were approved by British authorities and cycling’s world governing body the UCI, and there is no suggestion either he or Team Sky have broken any rules.

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