Steven De Jongh has told Cyclingnews that he cannot see Dave Brailsford remaining at Team Sky after the team boss revealed he was given a triamcinolone injection from British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman.
Team Sky, British Cycling and Bradley Wiggins are at the center of a UK Anti-Doping investigation into a potential doping violation after a medical package was transported to the British team during the 2011 Dauphine. The contents of the package were ordered by Freeman and used to treat Wiggins on the final day of the race.
Team Sky have claimed that the package contained the over-the-counter decongestant Fluimucil. However, no paperwork has been provided to substantiate this, and UKAD are still unable to confirm why Team Sky spent several hundred Euros transporting a medicine they could have bought locally.
When the story concerning the package first broke, Brailsford claimed that the courier, Simon Cope, was travelling to meet female cyclist Emma Pooley. However, this turned out to be untrue, with Pooley competing at a race in Spain at the time. Since then, Team Sky and Freeman have been unable to provide any medical notes relating to the package.
The physio, Phil Burt, who put the package together in Manchester at British Cycling’s headquarters, has told UKAD he has no recollection of what was in the package, and Freeman was too ill to face questions last week at a Select Committee hearing.
De Jongh is not suggesting that Brailsford was involved in any wrongdoing, and triamcinolone was given to Wiggins legally several times in 2011, 2012 and 2013, but De Jongh believes that as the head of Team Sky, Brailsford should take overall responsibility for what happened during his watch.
"In Brailsford’s position, for me it’s very unlikely that he can stay because of the things that have happened," De Jongh told Cyclingnews.
"If you can’t give an explanation for this [ed. - the contents of the package] and then if you twist the truth a few times… at the end he’s responsible. If you want to be clear about what’s going on in your team and you want to have that transparency then you need to fulfill on that. If not, then you’ve failed. They’re not transparent."
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- Brailsford says mysterious package contained legal drug Fluimucil
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- UKAD launch damning attack on Team Sky and British Cycling over medical practices
- Brailsford: Freeman gave me an injection of triamcinolone
- Bradley Wiggins' doctor provided Team Sky staff with triamcinolone
De Jongh worked for Team Sky until the end of the 2012 season. He was let go when Team Sky introduced a zero-tolerance policy to doping. De Jongh, who raced in the 1990s and 2000s, admitted to using banned substances during his career. He later joined Tinkoff and is now director at Trek-Segafredo.
De Jongh added that he was surprised that no paperwork existed with regards to the package from 2011. Team Sky doctors were supposed to follow a protocol that involved uploading medical notes to a shared Dropbox server. However, according to the team, Freeman rarely did this, despite reminders. UKAD revealed last week that Freeman’s laptop was stolen while on holiday in 2014. They are currently working with Interpol to confirm if a police report was made.
"I’m very surprised that they don’t have any documentation of the package and that nobody knows what was in the bag," De Jongh told Cyclingnews. "I’m highly surprised by that. That they can’t give a decent explanation. I’ve not heard one.
"If the computer was stolen, and so on and so on… I think that we can see the reactions everywhere and no one believes the explanations. I also don’t believe. I worked there and they had a system with Dropbox where everything was monitored. It must still be there."
De Jongh also expressed his doubts about the latest revelation concerning Brailsford's injection of triamcinolone in 2008 in order to treat a knee injury. On Friday, Team Sky admitted to Cyclingnews that Freeman had treated members of the staff at Sky and British Cycling with the drug.
"They could have explained this before, so to come with it now…no. Of course, the doctor is there to treat the whole team and I’ve been in teams where doctors give treatment to staff, and that’s normal because when you’re on the road it’s hard to find a good doctor if there’s a problem. But for me, it’s highly surprising that they still can’t give a good answer as to what was in the bag. And to let a guy travel with medicine that’s for sale everywhere for just a few Euros, that’s a bit complicated."
De Jongh questioned whether the sponsors would want to remain in the sport. Last week, James Murdoch stated that he was looking forward to the season, but the ongoing saga shows no sign of disappearing.
"I don’t see a reason for the team to stop, but I can see a point where Sky say, 'Hey this isn’t what we wanted', and they pull out," De Jongh said.