Team Sky accused of violating UCI no-needles policy with IV recovery

Whistle-blower information sparks further UKAD inquiry

A whistle-blower, who is reported to have worked with Team Sky, has accused the British squad of violating the UCI's no-needle policy in order to speed recovery of its athletes, according to the Press Association Sport. The information has been passed to the Select Committee at the House of Commons, while UK Anti-Doping are currently investigating the allegation.

A report published on Thursday alleges that Team Sky brought in Dr Fabio Bartalucci to the team in late 2010 for his expertise in using intravenous infusions to aid recovery after riders complained that the team's attempts to be beyond reproach was hampering results.

Bartalucci was among those caught up in San Remo during the 2001 Giro d'Italia when police raided team hotel rooms in search of doping products. However Bartalucci, then with the Bonjour team, was never charged. 

The whistle-blower reportedly provided UKAD and Damian Collins MP, the chairman of the select committee, with evidence that some riders on the team were using injections of Tationil (glutathione), a potent anti-oxidant believed to aid muscle recovery and growth.

Team Sky has been under scrutiny by UKAD and the select committee since late 2016 after reports that team doctor Richard Freeman ordered a special medical package hand-delivered from Manchester to France in 2011 for Bradley Wiggins, who had just won the Criterium du Dauphine.

Team principal David Brailsford testified before the committee that he believed the package contained Fluimucil, but the team has been so far unable to produce documentation to back up their assertions because Dr Freeman kept all the records on his laptop, which was stolen. The team said the Fluimucil, or acetylcysteine, was for inhalation to break up mucus in Wiggins' lungs.

But acetylcysteine, when injected, has also been purported to speed recovery as it is a precursor to the body's production of glutathione.

The UCI implemented its no-needle policy in May of 2011, before the Criterium du Dauphine, specifically to prohibit injections that have the aim of artificially improving performance or helping recovery. No injections were allowed within two days of a race in 2011, that period was extended to eight days in 2013.

After the rule was introduced, Wiggins was critical of the UCI's lack of enforcement of the new rule.

The Press Association Sport says that UKAD is investigating the allegations, but a spokesman for the agency said it "does not discuss or disclose information in relation to its investigations".

A spokesperson for Team Sky said, "It is right that any concerns are reported to and dealt with by the appropriate authorities, and we will continue to co-operate with them."

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