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Tramadol: UCI bans painkiller in competition from March

UCI president David Lappartient on stage during a presentation at the 2018 Tour de France

UCI president David Lappartient promised to ban tramdol as part of his election campaign

The powerful painkiller tramadol will be banned in-competition in cycling from March this year.

Cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, has announced its own ban despite the drug not being included on the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) prohibited list.

Penalties for a positive test range from disqualification from the event to a nine-month ban for a third offence.

Tramadol was detected in 4.4% of all samples taken in cycling in 2017.

The UCI said the aim of the ban is “preserving the rider’s health and safety” because of the side-effects of tramadol.

Possible side-effects include nausea and dizziness, while tramadol is also addictive and there are concerns it has caused crashes by making riders drowsy.

Wada’s 2017 monitoring report showed that 68% of all urine samples containing tramadol taken from 35 Olympic sports were from cyclists.

Under the new ban, a rider testing positive for tramadol for the first time will be disqualified from the event they are tested at and fined 5,000 Swiss francs (£3,925).

A second offence will also result in disqualification and a five-month suspension, which increases to nine months for a third positive test.

Teams may also be punished, with any UCI-registered outfit facing a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs (£7,850) if two of their riders test positive in the same 12-month period.

A further offence within the same 12 months will see the team suspended for between one and 12 months, to be decided by the UCI disciplinary commission.

The UCI and the UK and US Anti-Doping Agencies have called on Wada to add tramadol to the banned list.

However, Wada said last year it is not yet convinced tramadol is performance-enhancing but could ban it if ongoing studies conclude it is.

British cyclist Josh Edmondson told BBC Sport in 2017 that he had severe depression after independently using tramadol while at Team Sky, after former rider Michael Barry had said he used the drug at the British outfit.

Team Sky said its policy is that none of its cyclists should ride while using tramadol and that it does not give the drug to riders while racing or training.

In 2016, former Team Sky rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke told BBC Sport said he had been offered tramadol at the 2012 World Championships in the Netherlands when riding for Great Britain.

British Cycling said the doctor concerned – former chief medic Richard Freeman – denied Tiernan-Locke’s claim.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/46896799

Jess Varnish says she has ‘no regrets’ over failed tribunal against British Cycling and UK Sport

Jess Varnish

Jess Varnish appeared at the employment tribunal in December where she was cross-examined for over five hours by British Cycling lawyers

Ex-Great Britain cyclist Jess Varnish says she is “disappointed” but has “no regrets” over her failed attempt to prove she was an employee of British Cycling and UK Sport at tribunal.

The decision means the 28-year-old is highly unlikely to be able to sue both bodies for wrongful dismissal and sexual discrimination after being dropped by GB in 2016.

“The tactics used against me at times were aggressive, my character was repeatedly called into question, my motives challenged,” she said.

In a statement Varnish, who says that British Cycling’s control over her made it akin to her employer, said the defence to her challenge at an employment tribunal didn’t “uphold the Olympic ideals, rather one that embraced the win-at-all-costs mentality for which they’d recently been criticised”.

British Cycling had argued that her deal with them was more like a university grant.

Varnish added: “The irony for me is, right at the beginning of this process, when I met with British Cycling, all I asked for was an apology and commitment to improve athlete welfare. Neither were given.

“I therefore hope that Julie Harrington [British Cycling chief executive] can reflect on how my situation was handled and ensure that no other athlete endure the same inept process.

“It was clear that the only way to engage and ensure change occurred within these organisations was a legal challenge. There is no other option open to athletes.

“It took two leading barristers, a team of eight lawyers, a seven-day tribunal, close to £1 million in legal fees and a proclamation that the ‘skies would fall in’ if the system was changed for British Cycling and UK Sport, to answer some simple questions posed by one athlete about the set-up of the World Class Performance System.

“That it required all of this, and that even during the tribunal they struggled to answer simple questions, showed me I was right to push through my concerns and seek clarity, not just for myself, but for all athletes on the World Class Programme, to ensure that the administrators at these organisations are as world class as the athletes that represent them.”

She added that she was considering an appeal but said: “I take this process seriously and will not appeal for appeal’s sake.”

UK Sport said the judge’s decision gave them “confidence” in the way relationships between athletes, governing bodies and itself are managed, but the body added it will “reflect on the concerns that were raised through this case”.

Former European team sprint champion and world silver medallist Varnish is due to have a baby this week.

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March 2017: Varnish ‘relieved truth is coming out’

The landmark ruling is a blow to any other Olympic athletes who had considered suing UK Sport and/or their respective governing bodies.

UK Sport gives more than 1,000 athletes up to £25,000 a year tax-free, but it does not offer benefits such as holidays, sick pay and pensions.

Offering improved contractual terms could mean fewer grants are awarded to athletes as well as more cases of wrongful dismissal being brought.

Athlete welfare has been a topical issue with UK Sport and various governing bodies being criticised in the past for a ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/46910520

Laureus Awards: Lewis Hamilton and Geraint Thomas nominated for prestigious awards

Lewis Hamilton and Geraint Thomas

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Monaco on 18 February

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas are among the nominees for the Laureus World Sports Awards.

The Britons have been nominated for Sportsman of the Year and Breakthrough of the Year respectively.

Hamilton faces competition from world number one tennis star Novak Djokovic, World Cup winner Luka Modric and basketball great LeBron James.

The winners will be revealed at a ceremony in Monaco next month.

Reigning US Open tennis champion Naomi Osaka, who dramatically beat 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams in the final, features alongside BBC Sports Personality of the Year winner Thomas in the breakthrough category.

Golf’s 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, who won the season-ending Tour Championship in September to claim his first victory in five years, has been nominated for Comeback of the Year.

American gymnast Simone Biles, who won four world titles in 2018, and tennis duo Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber are among the contenders for the Sportswoman of the Year award.

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Full list of awards and nominees

Sportsman of the Year

Novak Djokovic (SRB) – Tennis

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) – Formula 1

LeBron James (USA) – Basketball

Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) – Athletics

Kylian Mbappe (FRA) – Football

Luka Modric (CRO) – Football

Sportswoman of the Year

Simone Biles (USA) – Gymnastics

Simona Halep (ROU) – Tennis

Angelique Kerber (GER) – Tennis

Ester Ledecka (CZE) – Skiing / Snowboarding

Daniela Ryf (SWI) – Ironman Triathlon

Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) – Skiing

Team of the Year

European Ryder Cup team – Golf

France World Cup team – Football

Golden State Warriors (USA) – Basketball

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team (Germany) – Formula 1

Norway Winter Olympic team

Real Madrid (ESP) – Football

Breakthrough of the Year

Ana Carrasco (ESP) – Motor Cycling

Sofia Goggia (ITA) – Skiing

Jakob Ingebrigsten (NOR) – Athletics

Naomi Osaka (JPN) – Tennis

Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Cycling

Briana Williams (JAM) – Athletics

Comeback of the Year

Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) – Skating

Mark McMorris (CAN) – Snowboarding

Bibian Mentel-Spee (NLD) – Paralympic Snowboarding

Vinesh Phogat (IND) – Wrestling

Lindsey Vonn (USA) – Skiing

Tiger Woods (USA) – Golf

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability

Henrieta Farkasova (SVK) – Skiing

Diede De Groot (NLD) – Wheelchair Tennis

Brian McKeever (CAN) – Cross-country skiing

Oksana Masters (USA) – Cross-country skiing

Grigorios Polychronidis (GRE) – Boccia

Markus Rehm (GER) – Athletics

Action Sportsperson of the Year

Maya Gabeira (BRA) – Surfing

Anna Gasser (AUT) – Snowboarding

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) – Surfing

Chloe Kim (USA) – Snowboarding

Gabriel Medina (BRA) – Surfing

Shaun White (USA) – Snowboarding

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/46916439

Jess Varnish: Cyclist loses employment case at tribunal

Jess Varnish

Jess Varnish appeared at the employment tribunal in December where she was cross-examined for over five hours by British Cycling lawyers

Ex-Great Britain cyclist Jess Varnish has failed in her attempt to prove she was an employee of British Cycling and UK Sport at an employment tribunal.

The decision means the 28-year-old is highly unlikely to be able to sue both bodies for wrongful dismissal and sexual discrimination after being dropped by GB in 2016.

Varnish says British Cycling’s control over her made it akin to her employer.

But the body’s lawyers said the deal was more like a university grant.

“Jess and her legal team continue to digest the 43-page judgement and will look to offer a statement to media on Thursday,” said a spokesperson for the cyclist.

UK Sport said the judge’s decision gave them “confidence” in the way relationships between athletes, governing bodies and itself are managed, but the body added it will “reflect on the concerns that were raised through this case”.

Former European team sprint champion and world silver medallist Varnish is due to have a baby this week.

The landmark ruling is a blow to any other Olympic athletes who had considered suing UK Sport and/or their respective governing bodies.

UK Sport gives more than 1,000 athletes up to £25,000 a year tax-free, but it does not offer benefits such as holidays, sick pay and pensions.

Offering improved contractual terms could mean fewer grants are awarded to athletes as well as more cases of wrongful dismissal being brought.

Athlete welfare has been a topical issue with UK Sport and various governing bodies being criticised in the past for a ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality.

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Varnish is a European gold medallist in the women’s team sprint

How did UK Sport and British Cycling react?

In a statement after the result was released, UK Sport thanked the judge for considering the case.

“The verdict provides reassurance that the relationship between UK Sport, national governing bodies and athletes is as it has always intended to be, which is to provide the means and support for talented athletes to achieve their dreams of realising success at the Olympic/Paralympic Games,” it added.

“While this verdict did not find Jessica Varnish to be an employee or worker of UK Sport or British Cycling, we have already taken action to strengthen the duty of care and welfare provided to athletes and are ensuring that avenues for raising any concerns are effective and appropriate.

“It also gives us confidence that the structure of the relationship between other national governing bodies, their athletes and UK Sport can continue in a similar way, but we will reflect on the concerns that were raised through this case when finalising our future strategy for post Tokyo.”

UK Sport added that it “regretted” that “pursuing this case was considered the best course of action [Varnish] had to address the concerns she felt”.

“We hope Jess feels proud of the success she achieved through cycling and we wish her all the very best for the future,” it added.

British Cycling said its decision to contest the case was founded on “the best interests of riders who represent Great Britain” and that its “relationship with them is not one of employer-employee but that of a service provider supporting talented and dedicated athletes to achieve their best.”

“We very much regret that Jess was advised to pursue the route of an employment tribunal when we had made significant efforts to reach a resolution which all parties regarded as equitable.

“Thanks to a lot of hard work by staff and riders the culture of the Great Britain Cycling Team is changed for the better since Jess first raised her concerns and we hope to welcome her to the National Cycling Centre as we would any other rider who has represented Great Britain.”

What is the background to the case?

Varnish began legal proceedings after claiming she was dropped from the UK’s elite cycling programme after failing to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics and told to “go and have a baby”.

An investigation found that British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton, who had already resigned from the body, had used sexist language.

The Australian was cleared of eight other charges, including making the “baby” comment.

British Cycling maintains Varnish was dropped on the basis of performances alone.

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March 2017: Varnish ‘relieved truth is coming out’

What happened during the hearing?

Varnish attempted to prove she was an employee at the tribunal in December by saying coaches had “extreme control” over cyclists.

Examples included, she said, coaches listening through hotel bedroom doors while away on training camps when she was 15 years old, regular blood tests and signing performance contracts with coaches.

She told the tribunal: “We had emails from coaches saying if you don’t sign this, you won’t get paid this month.”

Her claims were backed by her partner and former GB BMX star Liam Phillips and her agent James Harper.

Dr Richard Freeman, who was involved in cycling’s Jiffy bag scandal, was also due to attend the hearing.

However, the former Team Sky doctor pulled out on legal grounds as he is set to appear at a General Medical Council hearing on 6 February to explain how a mystery delivery of testosterone arrived at Team Sky’s headquarters in 2011.

British Cycling’s lawyer, Thomas Linden QC, told the tribunal that Varnish was telling “half-truths”.

“This is a case of the highest public interest and extremely important to athletes, sport and the funding bodies, so it is vital a true and fair picture is presented,” he said.

“What we have witnessed here is the difference between self-interest and the public interest.”

Analysis

BBC sports editor Dan Roan

This judgement almost certainly brings to an end a bitter three-year long saga that has laid bare the tensions behind Britain’s elite sporting culture, and which was arguably the biggest challenge the country’s sporting establishment had ever faced.

It will come as a huge relief to UK Sport in particular, which faced the prospect of being forced to overhaul the whole way it funds and contracts athletes if Varnish had won.

Athletes would have gained more rights, but there would have been less money to go round. And that would have caused great concern to many, given the years of medal success the current system has achieved.

Varnish – who is expecting her first child and is yet to comment – is considering whether to appeal. But she can at least take pride that her long battle against the sporting establishment has not been entirely in vain.

Her case almost certainly encouraged a number of other athletes in other sports to speak out about welfare concerns, their rights, and the balance of power with governing bodies, and the control they are put under.

And it is significant that both UK Sport and British Cycling now say they have taken on board the issues she raised and will review the way athletes are treated. The next generation of British sports stars may well owe Varnish a debt of gratitude in future years.

What next?

Employment lawyer Libby Payne told the BBC that others could still follow in Varnish’s lead.

“Whilst this judgment will come as a relief to UK Sport and British Cycling it is likely to be only temporary respite,” she said.

“Varnish could potentially appeal the judgment, but even if she does not, the underlying issues regarding protection and support afforded to athletes receiving funding are not going away.

“Other athletes may try to bring claims along similar lines to this one, or seek to pursue alternative claims in the civil courts unless changes are made.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/46890146

British Cycling: BBC obtains email at centre of testosterone delivery

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July 2018: Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Freeman – We never crossed the line

An email at the centre of the controversy over a mystery delivery of testosterone to the National Cycling Centre has been obtained by the BBC.

The correspondence, dated 18 October 2011, is from a staff member at one of the country’s leading medical suppliers, Fit4Sport Limited, to Dr Richard Freeman, the former chief medic at British Cycling and Team Sky.

It shows that five months passed between the testosterone gel arriving at their headquarters and Freeman receiving confirmation it had been delivered in error.

Following a General Medical Council (GMC) investigation, Freeman faces an allegation that he ordered the banned drug in May 2011 to administer to an athlete to boost their performance, then lied to conceal his motive for the order.

Testosterone is outlawed by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Freeman’s case will be heard next month at a misconduct tribunal that threatens to cast another shadow over the country’s most successful sport, following a series of controversies.

The medic has also been charged with contacting Fit4Sport to ask for confirmation that the order was sent in error to Manchester’s velodrome – home to Team Sky and British Cycling – despite knowing this had not taken place.

Freeman is also alleged to have lied to UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) investigators in February 2017 by stating the testosterone had been ordered for a non-athlete member of staff.

The email

BBC Sport can reveal that on 18 October 2011, a member of staff at Fit4Sport wrote an email titled ‘Testo Gel’ to Freeman, telling him that they could “confirm that I have now received back the Testogel 50mg pack of 30 sachets which we sent in error to you”.

It continues: “This will be destroyed on our premises. Apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you, we will revise our procedure to ensure incorrect pharmaceutical products are not shipped out again.”

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The email from a member of staff at Fit4Sport Limited to former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman

The background

In March 2017, Team Sky’s then medical director and psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters told the Sunday Times he had immediately been made aware of the delivery of testosterone on 18 May 2011, but was told by Freeman that the delivery was made in error.

Peters said that was confirmed by the supplier by phone that day, and that he asked Freeman to send it back and to ask for written confirmation from the supplier that it had been a mistake.

Peters said he was shown this and was satisfied it had been an administrative error so did not inform team boss Dave Brailsford.

It is now known that the written confirmation was not sent by Fit4Sport to Freeman for a further five months.

In its terms and conditions online, the company says that medications are “non-returnable unless there is a discrepancy due to supplier error”, and that they must then be returned “within 3 working days”.

On its website, Fit4Sport claims to be “the leading sports medical supplier within professional football and rugby league”, with a “strong presence” in cricket and with national squads for various governing bodies.

In pre-hearing information published by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, it is claimed Freeman’s “motive for his actions, in respect of the untrue statements and communications with Fit4Sport Ltd, were to conceal his motive for placing the order”.

Fit4Sport told the BBC it would not comment while the GMC proceedings were ongoing.

In November 2017, British Cycling announced its intention to sever ties with Fit4Sport because they said the company – along with Freeman – had not co-operated with their investigation.

The company insisted it had complied with requests from the GMC and Ukad.

Freeman, the doctor who received a mystery medical package for Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2011, is also accused of “inappropriately” providing medical treatment to non-athletes and failing to inform three patients’ GPs of “medication prescribed and reasons for prescribing”.

The GMC also claims that Freeman, who resigned from British Cycling in October 2017 because of ill health, “failed to maintain an adequate record management system”.

He denies any wrongdoing and told BBC Sport in July that he would “clear everything up” over the testosterone delivery after the GMC investigation.

In a statement, Team Sky said: “We support the important work of the GMC and the Medical Tribunal and have co-operated fully with their investigation to date. It would not be appropriate to comment further on the specific details of the case in advance of the forthcoming hearing.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/46885207

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