UK Anti-Doping 'swoop' into British Cycling

Updated: Wiggins welcomes investigation into alleged wrongdoing

Officials from UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) visited the British Manchester velodrome on Friday as the anti-doping body began its investigation into multiple allegations of wrongdoing in the sport.

The Daily Mail newspaper described the visit as a 'drug swoop'. However a report by the BBC said UKAD denied the velodrome was raided saying the visit was made with British Cycling's "full co-operation".

British Cycling issued a brief statement late on Friday evening, saying simply: "British Cycling can confirm there is an ongoing UKAD investigation with which we are cooperating fully. We are unable to comment further at this stage."

UKAD confirmed to Cyclingnews on Friday that it is "investigating an allegation of wrongdoing in cycling," adding: "In order to protect the integrity of the investigation we will not comment further.” UKAD later said it was investigating "allegations of wrong doing."

Bradley Wiggins said in a statement via his management company XIX on Saturday morning: "I welcome this investigation".

The BBC reports that two members of UKAD staff went to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester on Friday. It is likely UKAD wants to get to the bottom of allegations in a detailed investigation by the Daily Mail that a medical package was delivered to Team Sky by British Cycling coach Simon Cope in France on 12 June, 2011, the day Wiggins won the Criterium du Dauphine in La Toussuire.

The Daily Mail suggested that British Cycling staff were shocked by the sudden arrival of the UKAD investigators and presumed that "the investigators would have requested access to files and the operation inside the medical room that is run by Dr Richard Freeman."

The second string of the UKAD investigation could be based on allegations from former Team Sky and Great Britain rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke who told the BBC that painkiller Tramadol was "freely offered" at the 2012 Road World Championships.

British Cycling has put the allegation to the medic in question, doctor Richard Freeman, and he has denied it.

The Daily Mail report also raised concern over an allegation that Bradley Wiggins received a 'private session' in the back of the Team Sky bus with team Dr. Freeman after completing his podium duties on the final day of the 2011 Dauphiné. This was two weeks before he was granted the first of his TUE's for triamcinolone.

British Cycling confirmed that Cope was delivering a package containing medication for a Team Sky rider, but could not confirm which substance it was.

Wiggins under fire

Wiggins has come under fire in recent weeks for his use of the corticosteroid triamcinolone acetonide under a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) on three occasions – just ahead of the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and the 2013 Giro d'Italia. The 36-year-old has been left to defend himself over the timing of the injections, his previous claims he had never used needles, and the veracity of the illness that led to the treatment.

Team Sky, Wiggins' team at the time of all three injections, have also faced scrutiny over their stance on TUEs and their self-styled commitment to operating as a clean team.

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford sought to dispel the idea Wiggins received treatment in the back of the bus, trying to prove to the Daily Mail that the bus had left La Toussuire without waiting for Wiggins, who, in line with normal protocol, was driven away in a dedicated 'podium vehicle' after his media and anti-doping duties.

Confusion, however, arises over a YouTube video that appears to show Wiggins outside the Team Sky bus on that day, dressed in post-race clothing and giving an interview about his victory. The report also recounts that Brailsford claimed Cope was not visiting Team Sky, but rather Emma Pooley. However, Pooley later confirmed she was not in La Toussuire on 12 June 2011, but rather at the Emakumeen Bira race in Spain, nearly 700 miles away.

Team Sky's postion

On Saturday Team Sky issued a a second statement admitting it had been "a challenging few weeks for the team" but failed to give any explanation about the medical package, Wiggins' alleged 'treatment' on the team bus or why Brailsford claimed Cope had travelled to France to visit Emma Pooley. A number of other questions remain unanswered. 

"Given some of the recent headlines we wanted to set out the facts,” the statement reads. "Team Sky was recently contacted by the Daily Mail regarding an allegation of wrongdoing which we strongly refute. We informed British Cycling of the allegation and asked them to contact UK Anti Doping (Ukad). We understand that Ukad are currently investigating this as you would expect."

"Some newspapers this morning have reported that Team Sky and British Cycling were 'raided' by Ukad yesterday [Friday]. This was not the case. Ukad have confirmed they attended a meeting with British Cycling at the Velodrome in Manchester with their full cooperation. We welcome this investigation as we are confident there has been no wrongdoing. We take these issues seriously and we will cooperate fully with Ukad. We hope it can be completed as thoroughly and quickly as possible."

"In the meantime we hope that you will understand why we cannot comment on the specifics of the allegations or the details of the process."

Team Sky concluded by reiterating its stance.  

"Team Sky abide by the rules. We are committed to clean competition and we want you to know that we 100% stand by that." 

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