Cookson calls on Team Sky to give full disclosure of contents of mysterious Jiffy bag
UCI President not surprised that teams and athletes push rules to the limit
UCI President Brian Cookson has called on Team Sky and Dave Brailsford to give "full disclosure" about what was in the mysterious Jiffy bag taken from Manchester to the team on the final day of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.
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Brailsford, British Cycling president Bob Howden and former technical director Shane Sutton are due to give evidence to a British parliamentary select committee on December 19 as scrutiny of the team and national federation continues and as UK Anti Doping (UKAD) investigates an allegation of wrongdoing in cycling. Brailsford is currently in Mallorca as Team Sky prepare for the 2017 season.
The first details of the delivery of a mysterious medical package in a Jiffy bag to then Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman were revealed by the Daily Mail on October 6. Further details gradually emerged in a series of reports but the exact contents of the Jiffy bag has never been revealed.
British Cycling sources say that it was not triamcinolone, the corticosteroid given to Wiggins under a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to treat hay fever a few weeks later, before the start of the Tour de France. Key witnesses in the case have always claimed they cannot reveal the contents of the Jiffy bag due to the on-going UKAD investigation.
Cookson, who was the president of British Cycling at the time and on the advisory board of Team Sky said that he has no idea about the contents of the Jiffy bag but called for full disclosure in an interview with the Times newspaper.
"No, absolutely not, but I'm not surprised that packages are taken and delivered to teams from time to time, whether pedals, shoes, medical products, I'm sure that's happening all the time with all the teams because they are always on the road," Cookson said.
"I would hope that there is full disclosure to the select committee. I am surprised that one particular package has been singled out and I don't understand why that should be, unless there is someone who has leaked this [and] presumably has some sort of reason to suspect that there is something in it that they would rather not go into public.
"I don't understand why there is a mystery about it, to be quite honest. One would imagine there is a record of this."
TUE use and abuse
The parliamentary select committee will also look into the use of Therapeutic Use Exceptions (TUE) and whether they were justified. Leaked documents revealed by the so-called Fancy Bears hackers show that Wiggins had corticosteroid injections before the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France, and the 2013 Giro d'Italia. Wiggins defended the use of a TUE and the corticosteroid injections in an interview with the BBC.
"This wasn't about trying to find a way to gain an unfair advantage. This was about putting myself back on a level playing-field in order to compete at the highest level," he said, later revealing details of his struggle with pollen allergies.
Cookson told Cyclingnews on October 8 that he does not think the TUEs were issued inappropriately. He suggested to the Times that Wiggins and Team Sky may have pushed the TUE rules "to the limit" but again insisted that no rules were broken at the time.
In recent years the UCI has made it much harder for riders and teams to obtain a TUE in order to stop a possible abuse of the substance and a possible legalised performance benefit. Long-time UCI doctor Mario Zorzoli left in the summer of 2015 and a more stringent TUE policy was put in place. 55 TUE were authorised by the UCI in 2011 but that number fell to 13 in 2015.
"We shouldn't be surprised when elite-level sportsmen and women and their teams push the rules to the limit and hopefully they will not go through the limit," Cookson said.
"Perhaps this Wiggins case was a case of that and I wait to see what UK Anti-Doping have to say, they are looking at this."
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