Former technical director of British Cycling, Shane Sutton has defended the anti-doping record of the organisation and Team Sky. Both have been under fire this year following a series of revelations regarding the use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) and a package that was delivered to Team Sky at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.
British Cycling is also set to lose their CEO Ian Drake, when he steps back from his role in April 2017.
Sutton, who was under investigation following his suspension earlier this year amid allegations of sexism and discrimination, believes that there has no wrongdoing on behalf of British Cycling and Team Sky. "Our record at British Cycling speaks for its self and our record at Sky is a brilliant record. They've endorsed clean cycling from day one," Sutton told BBC 5 Live programme Sportsweek. "We build ourselves on evidence-based programmes and the evidence will come out I'm quite sure that they will be exonerated.
"[The reports in the media] detract from what the athletes achieved in Rio and [there is also] sadness that Ian Drake is leaving his post after 20 years…. It's always sad when you've been part of something that has evolved over time, and then you sit back and you see the criticism. I think that we should be reflecting on what they've achieved rather than what is being written in the press at this moment in time."
British Cycling is currently under investigation by the UK Anti-Doping Authority regarding a package that was sent from British Cycling to Team Sky on July 12, 2011 – the final stage of the Criterium du Dauphine. British Cycling coach Simon Cope travelled to France and delivered the package to the team's doctor Dr Richard Freeman. Cope told Cyclingnews that he did not know what it contained and the contents of the package remain unknown.
Sutton was pushed several times by Sportsweek presenter Garry Richardson on whether British Cycling or Team Sky should come forward and reveal the what was being delivered, in order to quash the current speculation. However, Sutton repeatedly stated that it was not his place to comment but added that it was normal practice and had a request to see it been made at the time then he believes they would have been able to do so. He also revealed that he had spoken to UKAD in the course of their investigation.
"I can't elaborate on that because I've not spoken to the person who sent the package. It would be wrong for me to elaborate," he said. "It's not something uncommon that we would ask a coach, or whoever is coming out, to bring out a parcel. I don't know too much about the whole story. A lot of it is what I've read, I have had a chat with UK anti-doping. I think we just need to let the powers that be run the course and they will publish their findings.
"I think what you've got to remember is that this was something that happened years ago. If someone would have asked what's in the package, then they would have opened it up and showed them obviously."
For more on this subject...
- Peter Keen highlights seriousness of British Cycling and Team Sky allegations
- UKAD ramps up investigation into Team Sky and British Cycling
- Cope: I don't know what was in the package for Team Sky
- Former Sky rider Tiernan-Locke says Great Britain offered Tramadol 'freely'
- No rules broken and no action to follow in Wiggins TUE case, says Cookson
Wiggins, TUEs and returning to British Cycling
The other topic up for discussion was Bradley Wiggins and his use of TUEs between 2011 and 2013. Sutton and Wiggins have worked together over much of the Briton’s career, with both British Cycling and Team Sky. Wiggins has been under scrutiny when it was revealed that he had applied for a TUE for the triamcinolone acetonide prior to the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and the 2013 Giro d’Italia. Sutton reiterated his stance that no rules had been broken in the process.
"The rules are there, they are set in stone, and you have to work within the rules," he said. "Regardless of what has come out, no rules were broken in here. The general public needs to understand that no rule has been broken and that has been endorsed by WADA and the UCI."
He added that the plethora of allegations was part and parcel of being at the top of the sport. "I would say there has been no wrongdoing. There have been certain allegations, but that's day to day life. When you are at the top, you're there to be shot at and we're shot at on a regular basis. When you exceed a certain level of expectation, then people are going to think 'what are they doing?' We're doing it the right way."
Sutton left British Cycling under a cloud earlier this year following allegations of sexism from Jess Varnish and reports that he had called Paralympic athletes 'wobblies' and 'gimps'. He was suspended by the organisation, who also announced an independent review into the allegations, with Sutton opting to resign the following day. He is currently waiting to hear the outcome of the investigation and told the Telegraph newspaper that he hopes British Cycling will reconsider his resignation if he is cleared. Earlier this month, British Cycling announced that they were beginning their search for a new performance director.
"As I've said all along, I am confident that I will be cleared of any wrongdoing," Sutton told the Telegraph. "And if I am, I'd like to think they would ask me to reconsider my resignation. I resigned when I did to take the heat off the team 100 days out from the Olympic Games. But I totally refute the claims."