Simon Cope, the British Cycling assistant who delivered a medical package for Team Sky at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2011, has told Cyclingnews that he had no idea what the contents of the 'Jiffy bag' contained but that he gave it to Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman.
Cope travelled from British Cycling's headquarters in Manchester to Geneva on June 12, 2011, at the request of Team Sky, and handed a 'Jiffy bag envelope' (a padded mailer) to the team's doctor, Richard Freeman, on the final day of the Critérium du Dauphiné – a race that Bradley Wiggins led and then won. It has since been confirmed by British Cycling that the delivery was for medical purposes. Bradley Wiggins has not responded to Cyclingnews' questions surrounding the matter.
Cope, who has worked for British Cycling, Team Sky and the WIGGINS team, has kept a low profile since the story broke, spending time in France and avoiding the media, but he confirmed his part in the delivery when Cyclingnews contacted him on Tuesday. He also added that he felt no wrongdoing had taken place, although he would cooperate with UK Anti-Doping, which has since launched an investigation into Team Sky and British Cycling.
"It was just an envelope, a Jiffy bag, a small Jiffy bag. As far as I know I could have been Speedplay pedals in there," Cope told Cyclingnews, before adding that the press were "digging at nothing."
"I don't know, no," he said when asked about the contents.
"I don't have a clue what was in there. It wasn't something unusual either. If people were going somewhere they'd just say 'can you take this?'. There's no way that British Cycling are going to put something dodgy or illegal for them to take through customs. It's just not going to happen. It's just madness. You have to go through two sets of customs. Why are you going to take the risk?
"It was for the doctor," he added.
Cope added that the envelope was given to him by a member of British Cycling staff. Cyclingnews has contacted the organisation, which would not comment on the specific issue, only reiterating that they would cooperate with UKAD's investigation.
"It came from British Cycling," Cope said. "I also took them some spare clothes."
According to Cope, his task was to deliver the envelope to Freeman directly.
"It was nothing to do with Brad," he said. "I gave it to Richard Freeman. This parcel was asked for, for Richard Freeman. It could have been nasal strips or bandaids, I really don't know."
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The Critérium du Dauphiné was not the only time Cope had carried out such work for Team Sky. According to him, he had been carrying out logistical work for the team on several occasions, and had even been a second director sportif for the team at certain races, helping run training camps for riders, including Wiggins. Team Sky have not responded to Cyclingews' questions surrounding this.
"I'd been working with Sky a lot and been running training camps with Brad. I spent a month in Mallorca with Brad and the lads motor-pacing. I was doing a lot of floating.
"I also ran numerous training camps and I was second DS at a numerous races that year," he told Cyclingnews.
"I took Alex Dowsett [who rode for Team Sky from 2011-2013 – ed.] to the Chrono des Nations. I was actually doing a lot for Sky. With all being true I was hoping to be DS there. It sounds like it was just this one job I did for Sky, but that's not true either. They don't know the actual truth."
Cope also discussed confusion over the facts surrounding the reporting of his role in the delivery of the medical package. When the Daily Mail first asked Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford as to why Cope had travelled to the Dauphiné, the newspaper was told that Cope was meeting British female rider Emma Pooley.
Cope was the manager of the British women's team and women's Under 23 academy coach between 2009 and 2011.
Pooley confirmed to the Daily Mail that she was racing in Spain at the time and could not have met with Cope. She has since given an exclusive interview with Cyclingnews in which she said that Brailsford "should be checking his facts."
Cope suggested that the facts had been 'misconstrued' and added that he had been at other races that year, such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he had watched the men's and women's* races and met with Nicole Cooke.
"I think that got misconstrued with me being the women's coach. That was part of my role as such. I was women's coach in title, but I didn't actually have a role in 2011 and I did a hell of a lot of work for Sky. No one is questioning me going to the end of Liège-Bastogne-Liège are they?"
On Sunday, after UKAD confirmed that they had launched an investigation over what they called "an allegation of wrongdoing in cycling", UCI President, and British Cycling president in 2011, Brian Cookson, told Cyclingnews that British Cycling and Team Sky "were closely and deliberately linked."
Cope's role is proof of that, and he gave a robust defence of Wiggins and the organisations that he has worked for.
"I think that they're [the media – ed.] digging for something that's not actually there. As Cookson said, there's no wrongdoing. I don't actually want to say too much because whatever you say, potentially it will be taken the wrong way, so I've just been staying away from every journalist.
"I just think that it's very sad that they're trying to bring down a guy [Wiggins – ed.] who has put this sport on the map in this country, bigger than ever. It's sad, it's just sad. For no wrongdoing. I just don't understand it. I don't understand what they're trying to do."
Cope had attempted to stay away from reading the press but the headlines that first came from Wiggins' TUE use and then the Mail's reporting on the medical package, have been so widespread.
"I've not read any of it. I've been away in France. I've not even tried to look at it. I saw the back of one newspaper that said 'drug swoop on velodrome' but as far as I know there was no drugs swoop. It was a guy who went in from UKAD to talk to BC. This SAS style swoop is just fabricated. I'm flabbergasted. There is no story there."
*There was no women's race at Liège in 2011. Cyclingnews is attempting to clarify with Cope about which race he might have attended.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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