Team Sky: Doctor has no records of ‘mystery package’ for Sir Bradley Wiggins

Sir Bradley Wiggins

Sir Bradley Wiggins was the first Briton to win the Tour de France in 2012

A doctor who received a ‘mystery package’ for Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2011 has no record of his medical treatment at the time, MPs have heard.

In 2014 ex-Team Sky medic Dr Richard Freeman had a laptop containing medical records stolen, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee were told.

Team Sky and British Cycling’s record-keeping was questioned in the hearing.

“No one has any recognition of what was in the package,” UK Anti-Doping chief Nicole Sapstead said on Wednesday.

  • QA: Cycling inquiry ‘mystery package’
  • Updates from cycling inquiry as they happened

Referring later to Team Sky’s incomplete records, she described it as “odd”, adding that she thought a team founded on the premise of racing cleanly would have evidence “to demonstrate any inferences to the contrary”.

Afterwards, committee chairman Damian Collins MP told BBC Sport the hearing had been “a damning indictment of the way things have been run at British Cycling and Team Sky.”

In a statement, Team Sky said that they had “co-operated fully” with Ukad’s investigation and denied any wrongdoing.

“Team Sky is a clean team,” the statement said. “We abide by the rules and we are proud of our stance against doping.

“We believe our approach to anti-doping is rigorous and comprehensive.”

Dr Freeman, who received the package from then-British Cycling coach Simon Cope on the final day of the Criterium du Dauphine in France, missed the hearing because of ill health.

Cope described himself as a “gap filler” for British Cycling and Team Sky and told MPs he did not ask what was in the package.

In December, Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford told the committee that the package contained an over-the-counter decongestant, Fluimucil.

The select committee is conducting an inquiry entitled ‘Combatting doping in sport’, while Ukad has been carrying out its own investigation into the contents of the jiffy bag package.

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Watch: Brailsford’s tense grilling on Team Sky

Key points from Wednesday’s hearing

  • Cope said he had no reason to be believe there was anything “untoward” in the package
  • He said he does not believe there is any cheating in British cycling
  • Asked if he felt “stitched up” and “left to dangle” because of the ongoing inquiry, Cope said “yes”.
  • Sapstead said a UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) inquiry had been hampered by incomplete or non-existent records
  • She said: “Team Sky did have a policy of keeping records, just not everyone was adhering to it”
  • Wiggins said he was treated with Fluimucil but was unaware of the jiffy bag contents
  • Orders of the anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone were enough for more than one cyclist, not just Wiggins, who was administered it under TUEs (therapeutic use exemptions)
  • There was no evidence of a cover-up or tampering of evidence, said Sapstead

What did anti-doping chief tell committee?


Nicole Sapstead called for her organisation’s annual budget to be doubled to £10m

Sapstead said Ukad has interviewed 34 current and former riders and staff members at British Cycling and Team Sky in an investigation that has taken up more than 1,000 man hours.

She described the confusion of how Freeman, who was effectively working for both British Cycling and its road racing off-shoot Team Sky, ordered and stored medicine for riders at the governing body’s Manchester headquarters, with no clear separation between which drug was for which outfit.

“It’s very clear from our investigation that there is no audit trail of what is going in and out of a comprehensive supply of medical products,” she said.

Sapstead said Ukad still does not know for sure if Fluimucil was in the package because there is no paperwork.

“We have asked for inventories and medical records and we have not been able to ascertain that because there are no records,” she said.

Sapstead was asked why Dr Freeman cannot produce any evidence that he gave what was an unlicensed product in the UK to Wiggins, as he is obliged to do under correct medical practice.

“He kept medical records on a laptop and, according to Team Sky policy, was meant to upload those records to a dropbox that the other team doctors had access to,” she said.

“But he didn’t do that, for whatever reason, and in 2014 his laptop was stolen while he was on holiday in Greece.”

Sapstead said Ukad contacted Interpol to check if this theft was reported at the time but has not received any confirmation it was, although Freeman did report it to British Cycling.

What did courier tell committee?


Cope said he had no reason to doubt British Cycling’s integrity

Cope said he was asked by his then-boss Shane Sutton to pick up a package from the National Cycling Centre in Manchester on 8 June, 2011 and bring it out to French ski resort La Toussuire, where the Dauphine [won by Wiggins] finished on 12 June.

He told MPs he considered this to be a routine request and common in cycling.

Questioned on why he did not ask what was in the package, he said: “Why would I question it? Why would I question the integrity of our governing body? I just didn’t ask. You may think I’m stupid.

“It must have been something medical, because it was for Dr Freeman, but I had no reason to doubt it. Throughout my career, I’ve looked up to our governing body. We’ve done so well and with a zero-tolerance stance [on doping].”

When pointed to the fact he was taking medical products overseas, Cope – who now manages Wiggins’ professional road-racing team – said: “I probably should have asked what was in the package but the other day I travelled down to Spain with 40 boxes in the car. I didn’t check every box, but I presume they were helmets.”

Cope was asked to explain a discrepancy between his recollection of his movements that week and the expense claim he submitted to British Cycling.

“I might have been trying to fiddle them. We all do that, don’t we?” he said.

How did we get here?

Wiggins is a five-time Olympic gold medallist and in 2012 became the first Briton to win the Tour de France.

He and Team Sky boss Brailsford have come under scrutiny since information on the rider’s authorised use of banned drugs to treat a medical condition was released by hackers.

Wiggins, an asthma and allergy sufferer, received special permission to use triamcinolone shortly before the 2012 Tour as well as the previous year’s event and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

His TUEs were approved by British authorities, and cycling’s world governing body the UCI. There is no suggestion either the 36-year-old or Team Sky broke any rules.


BBC Radio 5 live sports news correspondent Richard Conway

It is the team which championed its use of marginal gains.

But Team Sky, together with British Cycling, are now embroiled in a monumental mess.

The evidence provided by Nicole Sapstead, and in a different way by Simon Cope, has damaged the reputations of both organisations which have preached a commitment to keeping cycling drug-free in recent years.

The lack of effective auditing and the claimed “resistance” to investigators are problematic enough.

What will require a more rapid response is the assertion by Nicole Sapstead that records show British Cycling’s medical store held a significant amount of triamcinolone, with suggestions it was being used by more than one rider.

Finding answers to that however would require access to every rider’s medical files – a problem given the overriding requirements for doctor/patient confidentiality.

The implications of this long-running and ongoing affair, could therefore be wide ranging with the head of Ukad raising the issue of limited financial resources and also whether athletes will in future be required to waive rights to keep medical facts secret.

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