Although it declined to file any anti-doping rule violations for Team Sky or Bradley Wiggins over the so-called 'jiffy bag', last year, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) issued a scathing laundry list of deficiencies to British Cycling over its medical procedures, and said delays by British Cycling (BC) to notify them of the case at all "could have potentially compromised our investigation with possible loss of evidence".
The admonishment by UKAD was made public today by British Cycling after media outlets including the BBC filed Freedom of Information requests to see the letters, only to be repeatedly refused by the anti-doping body.
The letter revealed potentially damaging heel-dragging by British Cycling at the start of the case. "Despite being aware of allegations in relation to the 2011 package, British Cycling were slow to inform UKAD of these," the letter signed by UKAD CEO Nicole Sapstead wrote.
"Failure to inform UKAD at the time that individuals within British Cycling became aware of such suspicions or allegations meant that this story had already reached a number of individuals before UKAD was informed, and thus able to act. That only hindered our efforts."
In October, 2016, the Daily Mail published a report of a medical delivery from British Cycling to Team Sky at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine. It was revealed that Simon Cope was sent using BC funds to France to deliver the package to Bradley Wiggins at the behest of team doctor Richard Freeman.
According to the UKAD letter, the investigation began the month before the Daily Mail article. It sparked an investigation and drew the attention of Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport select committee.
The team and British Cycling were unable to provide documentation as to what exactly was in the package intended for Wiggins. Team Sky principal David Brailsford testified in front of a Parliamentary committee that the bag contained the legal decongestant Fluimucil. The team blamed the lack of documentation supporting this claim on the loss of a laptop computer Dr Freeman.
After the investigation concluded last November with no charges, Wiggins expressed relief but anger at the personal harm he and his family had endured. "Being accused of any doping indiscretion is the worst possible thing for any professional sportsperson, especially when it is without any solid factual basis and you know the allegation to be categorically untrue," Wiggins said at the time.
"This period of time has been a living hell for me and my family, full of innuendo and speculation. At times it has felt nothing less than a malicious witch hunt."
- British Cycling publishes letter from UKAD
- Cope: I don't know what was in the package for Team Sky
- UKAD investigation rolls on as Brailsford's parliamentary questioning looms
- Timeline of UKAD investigation into Team Sky and British Cycling
- Brailsford dodges questions about UKAD investigation at Team Sky's Mallorca camp
- Cope feels 'stitched up' over role in Team Sky mystery-package saga
- UKAD reveals Freeman received delivery of testosterone
- UCI asks UKAD to assess former Sky rider Edmondson's injection claims
- Strong and Stable? Dave Brailsford’s year of saying nothing
- Select Committee report to reflect concerns over Team Sky and British Cycling
Medical room chaos
UKAD's rebuke of British Cycling's medical practices, written in November 2017 after the inquiry concluded, noted that the medical room at the Manchester velodrome was "chaotic and disorganised" with no formal procedures for recording the purchase, use or disposal of medicines.
The agency also found that BC had no records of medicines or medical supply packages being sent from British Cycling to teams or athletes and indeed, no filing system at all - just "papers piled up in cupboards and filing cabinets".
Additionally, UKAD examined doping control forms and could find no corresponding records for the legal medicines that were being administered to athletes.
The lack of electronic medical records was a major concern, as was the lack of evidence that team doctors Freeman and Dr Steve Peters had adequate oversight.
As noted by the Parliamentary committee, the blending of BC and Team Sky staff was problematic. UKAD noted that medical supplies for one were at times paid for by the other.
New BC CEO Julie Harrington welcomed the recommendations from UKAD, noting that many changes had already been implemented before the investigation's conclusion.
"British Cycling has made a number of significant changes to the provision of medical services to the Great Britain cycling team," Harrington wrote. "All of the recommendations of a review commissioned in April 2017 have been implemented. This review was in response to initial findings by UKAD given to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in March 2017.
"We continue to partner and support UKAD in the important work it conducts to keep sport clean."