An independent review into medical practices at British Cycling is underway, as the governing body looks to correct the major flaws that have been exposed in recent months.
Damian Collins MP, head of the parliamentary committee looking into doping in sport, said last month that the reputation of British Cycling and Team Sky was in tatters, after UK Anti-Doping’s chief executive Nicole Sapstead, who has been leading an investigation into ‘allegations of wrongdoing’ at the two organisations, painted a picture of an alarmingly lax approach to record keeping pertaining to medical products.
At the heart of the controversy is the ‘mystery’ package couriered by a BC employee from the medical store at the national cycling centre to Team Sky in France, where the contents were used to treat Bradley Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine. It is claimed the package contained Fluimucil, a legal decongestant, but no one has been able to provide documentary evidence to substantiate the claim.
"There is no audit trail of what is going in and out of a comprehensive supply of medical products," commented Sapstead, indicating that it wasn’t an isolated event. She also described how there was a lack of segregation between what was being ordered for British Cycling and Team Sky athletes respectively, and revealed that unusually large orders of triamcinolone – the corticosteroid used controversially if not illegally by Wiggins – had been placed.
UKAD’s investigation is still ongoing but British Cycling announced on Thursday that it has commissioned Dr Rod Jaques, director of medical services at the English Institute for Sport, to conduct an ‘independent review of its medical and physiotherapy teams’ operational practice and its alignment with the highest standards of UK professional conduct and procedures’.
Jaques will carry out a series of interviews and an appraisal of the current practices and is expected to produce his report in June.
“We are committed to providing the highest standards of medical support - that’s why we’ve commissioned an external expert to scrutinise our existing processes and procedures and to make a series of recommendations on how we can improve,” said British Cycling’s people director, Michael Chivers.
“We will not pre-judge what the recommendations might be, but we are keen to bring parity between performance and health and welfare, and to ensure we reduce the potential for conflicts of interest between a team’s medical staff and its coaches.”
British Cycling’s performance director, Stephen Park, added: “This is about balancing high performance with high support in terms of the health and welfare services we provide our athletes. I’ve been impressed by much of the work that the team is doing, and in commissioning this review the intent is to strive for continual improvement to ensure that we are operating to the highest standard.”