On a day that saw UK Anti-Doping paint a catastrophic account of the medical practices carried out by Dr. Richard Freeman at Team Sky and British Cycling, the chairman of the Department of Culture Media and Sport's (DCMS) anti-doping committee has said that Team Sky and British Cycling have been left in a 'terrible position' regarding their credibility.
After hearing evidence from former British Cycling employee Simon Cope and UKAD's Chief Executive, Nicole Sapstead, Damian Collins MP told gathering media Wednesday, "I think this leaves them [Team Sky and British Cycling – ed.] in a terrible position. I think British Cycling should be keeping records of drugs they are supplying. It's very confused as to what drugs are being used by Team Sky and British Cycling. The impression that's given is that Dr. Freeman is just ordering drugs at will with no records being kept of what he's doing."
During a significant hearing that lasted almost two hours, members of parliament grilled Simon Cope on his knowledge of the medical package he transported from Manchester to France during the 2011 Dauphine. The package was ordered by Freeman and administered to race leader Bradley Wiggins at the end of the final stage. However, questions remain over the contents of the mysterious Jiffy-bag. Team Sky and British Cycling took months before claiming that Cope was transporting the decongestant Fluimucil, yet no proof has yet been provided to back this up.
At an earlier hearing, Team Sky's Dave Brailsford told the committee that Freeman had informed him that the package contained Fluimucil, and British Cycling stated at the time that they would have medical records of all products that came in and out of their base in Manchester.
During Wednesday's hearing, UKAD confirmed that Freeman had told them during an interview in their investigation that the package contained Fluimucil. However, UKAD also stated that Freeman had kept no records. The committee that Freeman had failed to upload medical records of prescriptions to Team Sky's database – part of their protocol – and that his laptop had been stolen during a holiday in Greece in 2014. British Cycling have records of a report of the stolen laptop, and UKAD are working with Interpol in order to find out if Freeman reported the robbery to the Greek authorities.
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- Cope: Select committee? I am meant to be at a Wiggins camp
- Cope feels 'stitched up' over role in Team Sky mystery-package saga
Sapstead added that Freeman – who was called to the hearing but pulled out 24 hours earlier due to illness – appeared to act 'with two hats' as he worked for both the WorldTour team and the national body.
Sapstead also said that there was no audit trail of what was going in and out of a comprehensive supply of medical products. She also confirmed that quantities of Kenacort – the drug supplied to Bradley Wiggins for his TUES in 2011, 2012 and 2013 – were ordered into British Cycling but that there were was no paperwork in relation to which athletes were prescribed the drug.
"First of all, it's absolutely damning that there are no records," Collins added.
"How can you run a clean team or a clean sport when you don't know what the doctor is giving the cyclists? That's at the heart of this. I think that the credibility of the Fluimucil story has been undermined by the fact that there are no records. Not only are there no records of Fluimucil being supplied on that race, they can't provide any records of it ever being supplied by British Cycling to Team Sky. That undermines the credibility of that story."
When asked by Cyclingnews if the Fluimucil story stood up, Collins replied: "They [Team Sky and British Cycling – ed.] don't know, and David Brailsford virtually admitted that when he came. He was told by Dr Freeman but there's no evidence to back that up. We've been told throughout the investigation that British Cycling and Team Sky were supplying all the evidence and documentation that they had – but that they couldn't discuss it – and what we've heard today is that there is no evidence. There's no proper medical records kept and there's no record of drugs that are ordered or administered. That's damning."
Collins also pointed to the lack of clarity coming from within British Cycling and Team Sky. It was confirmed by UKAD that the medical package was put together by Phil Burt at British Cycling but that he had no recollection of its content. Simon Cope started his calamitous appearance by stating that he 'couldn't remember what he had done last Tuesday' before going into detail about the contents of his own suitcase that he took to the Dauphine and the message that was written on a post-it note that accompanied the Jiffy-bag.
"There's a lot of selective memory here," Collins said.
"I can't say whether he [Cope – ed.] remembers or not, but we have Simon Cope remembering that it was a post-it note on the package when he picked it up, but he can't remember what day he was in Manchester. That lacks credibility."
The overriding question for Collins, and many who attended the hearing or followed online, surrounds credibility.
"The question at the heart of this is, how can you say that British Cycling is the cleanest and most ethical in the world when there aren't records of what's been given to one of our leading cyclists. How is it that it's got to this state? The existence of this package is something that may never have come out."