Brian Cookson calls for Wiggins' reputation to be 'reinstated'

Former UCI, and British Cycling President Brian Cookson has called for the 'reputation' of Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins to be 'reinstated' following the conclusion of UKAD's investigation into the WorldTour team and British Cycling

In 2011, British Cycling employee Simon Cope travelled from the UK to France to transport a medical package to the Team Sky bus on the final day of the Critérium du Dauphiné, that was then administered to Wiggins by Dr Richard Freeman. The contents of the package, or 'jiffy bag' as it came to be known, became central to the investigation. Team Sky and British Cycling both claimed the 'jiffy bag' contained the legal decongestant Fluimucil but could not to provide a paper trail.

Last month, UKAD closed the investigation, unable to confirm contents of the 'jiffy bag'. In the aftermath, Wiggins, who has denied any anti-doping violations, explained he believed the investigation was a "malicious witch hunt" and is considering legal action.

Speaking with the BBC, Cookson explained the invetigaton proved "no rules were broken" but as a consequence there was reputational damage to cycling, Sky and Wiggins.

"I think the reputation of the sport, the reputation of the the team and the reputation of the rider Bradley Wiggins should be reinstated," Cookson added. "At the end of the day I have no idea what was in that package, and have no idea what the so-called whistle blower told Ukad or told the Daily Mail what was in the package. Ukad have not been able to put a case together so that's the end of the story."

The UKAD investigation also included looking into Team Sky's use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs). During his presidency, Cookson defended the UCI's handling ofTUEs and explained that the system was 'tightened' up. Last month Shane Sutton, former technical director of the Great Britain team, said that TUEs were a legitimate way of finding "marginal gains" while staying within anti-doping rules.

Responding to Sutton's comments, Cookson explained "I don't think anyone should be surprised when a professional sports team pushes the rules right to the very limit," he said. "That's what professional sports teams do - you see it in football, you see it in Formula One and so on.

"That's essentially I think what's happened here; in terms of the structures that were in place at the time, the rules were abided by."

On TUEs, Cookson further explained his opinion and their use in professional sport.

"I think that there is a separate argument about TUEs" he said. "Are they a good thing or not? If you want my view I think they should be allowed but if they are allowed then the rider doesn't compete for a limited period of time," he said. "That's not the rules at the moment. The World Anti Doping Agency (Wada) has looked at the rules time and time again every year and kept the TUE system. It's fit for purpose in their view and sports have to abide by the rules.

"We did tighten the rules up on how TUEs were issued and that's resulted in far fewer being issued. I think that's a good thing."

In the BBC interview, Cookson also reiterated his surprise and disappointment at losing the UCI presidential election, and his plans to start a women's cycling team.

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