British Cycling deny knowledge of mystery package contents

President promises to investigate contents after parliamentary questioning

Speaking before Dave Brailsford revealed that the mysterious package sent to Team Sky contained the legal medicine Fluimucil, senior British Cycling officials were left embarrassed as they admitted they had no knowledge of what was in the package.

British Cycling president - Bob Howden, and Dr George Gilbert - the chair of British Cycling Ethics Commission, had to defend British Cycling's image and were forced to promise they would investigate and write to the Committee with details of what was in the package.

Brailsford's revelations is likely to mean they will also have to produce evidence of how and why Fluimucil was made available from the British Cycling medical staff to Team Sky and also produce any medical and financial records that confirm it was transported by a British Cycling staff member to Team Sky in France.

Howden and Gilbert were the first to be questioned by the British members of Parliament during the hearing in the Culture, Media and Sport Committee looking into anti-doping and ethics in sport. They were caught off guard when Collins starting the hearing by reading out an email from UKAD Chair David Kenworthy that said that UKAD had "no objection to members of the Select Committee asking questions about matters that may be covered by UKAD's investigation into cycling."

"Because of speculation surrounding this package it would be quite proper for the Committee to ask questions about this and any other aspect that the Committee considers relevant."

That email from UKAD would be the turning point of the witness interviews.

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Howden and Gilbert both insisted that they did not know what was in the package and insisted that they understood that UKAD was in change of the investigation into its contents.

"We have not looked into this because we have been asked by UKAD not to look in to it" Howden said. "There is talk of pedals and shoes any number of things. All we can do is to say: Look, we're not allowed to discuss it with anyone."

MP John Nicolson asked: "Was Cope a travel ingénue?" as Howden and Gilbert ere asked about the potential risk of transporting an unknown drug or medicine across Europe. It emerged that British Cycling paid for Cope's flight and then somehow called back the costs involved as part of an agreement with Team Sky.

"British Cycling sends packages out on a regular basis, teams compete around the world. It could have pedals or spare shoes. All sort of things are sent out. Though this package maybe different," Gilbert said.

Defending the image of British Cycling

Howden confirmed that British Cycling operates on a budget close to £31 million pound made up of membership fees, commercial sponsors and state funding from UK Sport and Sport England. He was asked if the many questions about ethics and integrity aimed at British Cycling in recent months, including the Shane Sutton case, had damaged the British federation's image.

"We need to think very carefully and send signals that we're dealing with the job. I'm worried about the success of cycling if we don't get our act together here," on MP said.

"We can only be as transparent as we are allowed to be," Howden argued. I don't know what was in package, It's up to UKAD to say what in the package. We've had discussions with partners and they’ve supported us."

"We don't have anything to hide. We hope that UKAD is able to produce their findings and then we can all move forward."

 

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