The UCI’s Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation has asked UK Anti-Doping to assess former Team Sky rider Josh Edmondson’s admission that he injected himself with vitamins and supplements in 2014, his second and final season with the team.
In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, Edmondson said that he confessed to Team Sky’s management in August 2014 that he had breached the UCI’s no needles policy, but that the team had covered up the violation.
Team Sky and its former head of medicine Dr Steve Peters have denied a cover-up. They maintain that Edmondson told them that he had purchased vials and syringes but had not performed any injections. On Friday, the UCI said that the Cycling Anti-Doping Agency is liaising with UKAD to shed further light on the matter.
“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has seen the BBC report. The Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation, independent entity in charge of anti-doping program and investigations for the UCI, is in touch with UKAD to assess the matter,” the UCI statement read. “No further comments will be provided at this stage.”
UKAD has already been investigating Team Sky, focusing in particular on the delivery of a package containing medicine to Bradley Wiggins and Dr Richard Freeman at the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné.
The UCI introduced its no needles policy in 2011 in a bid to combat the culture of syringe and medicament use in cycling. The policy states that the “use of injections to administer drugs or substances without a clear and recognised medical indication is prohibited” and applies to any injected substance whether it is “prohibited under the UCI Anti-Doping Rules (ADR) or not.”
Any injection must be reported to the UCI within 24 hours. A first offence can result in a suspension ranging from eight days to six months, while a second offence within two years would trigger a suspension ranging from six months to life.
Edmondson told the BBC that he travelled to Italy in 2014 from his base in Nice in order to buy syringes, carnitine, folic acid, 'TAD' [reduced glutathione – ed.] and an herbal supplement. He said that he then injected himself two or three times a week as he prepared for the 2014 Vuelta a España, where he believed he needed to perform in order to secure the renewal of his contract. "This was my way of closing the gap a little without doping," Edmondson said.
Edmondson’s possession of the products was discovered while he was on the Tour de Pologne by a teammate who shared a house with him in Nice, and who sent photographs of the vials and syringes to Steve Peters.
Peters told the BBC that Team Sky had not reported the incident to the UCI partly out of concern for Edmondson’s mental health. “What is the consequence of him suddenly being exposed if I'm right and he's not well? The reason I stopped it in its tracks is my concern has always got to be for the welfare of the individual," Peters said.
When Team Sky released Edmondson at the end of 2014, however, the team’s performance manager Rod Ellingworth was forthright in his public criticism of the rider. Speaking to Cycling Weekly in January 2015, Ellingworth cited a lack of professionalism, disorganisation and poor communication for Edmondson’s departure from the team. “He is talented, but there is a lot of talent out there and this isn’t a conveyor belt,” Ellingworth said.
Edmondson also told the BBC on Thursday that he had suffered from depression in 2014 as a result of using the painkiller tramadol, which he had procured from a doctor from outside of Team Sky. He said that he had not informed the team about his depression or his use of tramadol at the time.