Following a month of scrutiny in the wake of the Fancy Bears hack of the WADA ADAMS system and release of Chris Froome's and Bradley Wiggins' TUEs, Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has spoken for the first time in an interview with the Telegraph Cycling Podcast.
Following the release of the TUEs, former Team Sky rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke spoke of Great Britain riders being offered Tramadol 'freely', before the Daily Mail report of a medical package being delivered from the UK to Team Sky's bus in France on the final stage of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine. UK Anti Doping (UKAD) confirmed to Cyclingnews last week that it opened an "investigating an allegation of wrongdoing in cycling".
During the last month, Brailsford has largely remained out of the media but admitted that he "probably made the situation worse" in conversation with the Cycling Podcast.
"This is not a comfortable situation. This is whole process is a long way from comfortable and where we got to know now, is not been comfortable at all," Brailsford said in the interview. "Let's face facts, this last week I don't think I handled the situation as well as I could have done and I probably made it a damn sight worse than it needed to be quite frankly. It's not comfortable, it's not comfortable to be under this level of scrutiny.
"From what was a very small fire, if you like, I inadvertently threw a huge amount of petrol on it and two and two equals ten now… I hold my hand up here - I haven't done a very good job of this one, unfortunately, and have probably made the situation worse."
While admitting that his response could have been better, Brailsford explains that he has no concerns regarding Wiggins' TUEs for triamcinolone, adding the caveat "We'll be reviewing how we operate with TUEs going forward, that's for sure," he said.
"Bradley Wiggins is an amazing guy and an amazing athlete and he's achieved incredible results in his career and I think we can see quite clearly that's not done off the back of TUEs ," he said, going to add that "if you think one shot of Kenalog is going to win you the Tour de France, then I am pretty sure a lot more people will be taking shots of Kenalog, quite frankly."
On the subject of Sky's past use of TUE's Brailsford explained that "there isn't a systematic pattern of TUE abuse" and "if we were going to abuse a system, we would have a better pattern of use."
Medical package contents
The scrutiny of Sky has progressed from TUEs to a medical package, a 'Jiffy Bag' that British Cycling assistant Simon Cope travelled with from Manchester to Geneva on June 12, 2011 to deliver to Doctor Richard Freeman at the request of the team. Cope told Cyclingnews that he didn't "know what was in the package for Team Sky". Despite being asked several times what the 'Jiffy bag' contained in the Cycling Podcast interview, Brailsford refused to answer.
"This whole things was brought to my attention recently. I never saw a package. Obviously, now I can't go back and know what was in the package. I know what I was told was in package," he said.
Asked again if could say what was in the package, Brailsford responded "no", adding "...that in an allegation like this, I can tell you my interpretation and what I find out here but it won't be sufficient for most people. What people want is an independent view of this and for someone to come in and really determine the facts and really find out what was going on and be able to say very clearly whether there was an anti-doping violation, was there any wrong doing, etc, etc. And that's what we are going to get with the UKAD investigation and this why I absolutely welcome it."
UKAD has confirmed to Cyclingnews that "in order to protect the integrity of the investigation we will not comment further." The UKAD investigation is currently ongoing.