UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has published its final report into allegations of a potential doping violation surrounding Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky and British Cycling, confirming that no charges will be brought against any of the parties concerned.
Despite spending over 12 months investigating a case that involved a suspect medical package being sent to Team Sky at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2011 in order to treat Wiggins, UKAD could not find sufficient evidence surrounding the contents of the package.
UKAD interviewed 37 people during the investigation but a lack of medical records kept at British Cycling and Team Sky hampered the process. Both British Cycling and Team Sky took several weeks to claim that the package contained the legal decongestant Fluimucil but they too were unable to provide a paper trail.
"No anti-doping charges will be brought in relation to the package as a result of that investigation and all interested parties have been informed accordingly. This will remain the case unless new and material evidence were to come to light," UKAD said in a statement released on Wednesday.
"UKAD's investigation was particularly challenging in light of a lack of contemporaneous medical records. This aspect of the investigation serves as a reminder to all those responsible for medical record-keeping within sport to ensure that medical record policies are fit for purpose, and that such policies are systematically followed."
The investigation was launched in September 2016 after it was alleged that the package contained triamcinolone – a substance that Wiggins had taken via the TUE process on the eve of three Grand Tours. Team Sky refuted this allegation but only provided the Fluimucil story several weeks after the allegation was made.
In the intervening weeks, Dave Brailsford claimed that the courier of the package was making the journey from Manchester to mainland Europe in order to meet with female cyclist Emma Pooley. Curiously, this proved to be inaccurate as Pooley was racing in Spain and several hundred miles away from the Dauphine.
Brailsford also claimed that Wiggins could not have been treated with the contents of the package because Wiggins had already left the race. This also proved to be untrue and Shane Sutton – then of Team Sky and British Cycling – confirmed in front of members of the British Parliament that he had asked for the medical package to be delivered to the Dauphine in order to treat Wiggins. Sutton also stated that the Tour de France winner was treated on the final stage of the Dauphine by Richard Freeman, who administered the package to Wiggins while on the Team Sky bus.
Freeman was asked to give evidence to both UKAD and members of Parliament. He told UKAD that his medical records were kept on his private laptop only and that the device had been stolen while on holiday in Greece in 2014. He declined to appear in front of MPs due to illness and has since stepped down from his role as medical officer at British Cycling.
"Put simply, due to the lack of contemporaneous evidence, UKAD has been unable to definitively confirm the contents of the package. The significant likelihood is that it is now impossible to do so," UKAD added.
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- UKAD reveals Freeman received delivery of testosterone
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- Strong and Stable? Dave Brailsford’s year of saying nothing
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Team Sky: We are pleased
Minutes after UKAD published their findings, Team Sky released a statement, welcoming the news that the investigation had been closed.
"We are pleased that UK Anti-Doping have concluded their investigation and that they will not be taking any further action," the statement said.
"We have always maintained that there was no wrongdoing and we have co-operated fully with UK Anti-Doping over the last year.
"Since our inception as a new pro cycling team in 2010 we have continually strengthened our systems and processes so they best support our strong commitment to anti-doping."
Team Sky has, however, faced very serious and important questions over the last twelve months. Not only over the misinformation that Brailsford attempted to provide the Daily Mail over Pooley and the team bus, but the serious allegation made by the Mail that he had offered them another, more positive story.
"First came the offer of an alternative, more positive story," the Daily Mail's Matt Lawton wrote last December.
"Then possibly a story about a rival team winning races with Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) — something he did not reveal in the end. And at the end of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, Brailsford asked if there was 'anything else that could be done?'"
Earlier this year, the head of UKAD, David Kenworthy, raised further questions when he said: "So everybody can remember this from five years ago, but no-one can remember what was in the package. That strikes me as being extraordinary. It is very disappointing."
He was not alone. Damian Collins MP, who chairs the Culture and Sport select committee, told reporters that, "the credibility of Team Sky and British Cycling is in tatters - they are in a terrible position."
Having reached a dead-end, UKAD have sent their evidence to the General Medical Council. However, in its statement, UKAD made clear that the relationship between British Cycling and Team Sky and both parties lack of medical records was a serious concern.
"Our investigation was hampered by a lack of accurate medical records being available at British Cycling. This is a serious concern. As part of their conditions to receive public funding from UK Sport and other Home Country Sports Councils, all sports governing bodies must comply with the UK National Anti-Doping Policy. In this case the matter was further complicated by the cross over between personnel at British Cycling and Team Sky," the statement read.
"We have written to British Cycling and a copy of this letter has also been sent to UK Sport and Sport England. We have also separately written to Team Sky."