Great Britain riders Luke Rowe and Stephen Cummings, and coach Rod Ellingworth, have refuted claims that the controversial painkiller Tramadol was 'freely' handed out to riders at the 2012 UCI Road World Championships.
In an interview with the BBC earlier this month, former Team Sky and Great Britain cyclist Jonathan Tiernan-Locke said that a team doctor had handed it out to the team. In an interview with Cyclingnews, Tiernan-Locke later named the doctor as Richard Freeman, who worked with Team Sky at the time. It is an accusation that Dr. Freeman has denied.
Rowe and Cummings, who are both competing at this year's World Championships in Doha, Qatar, were part of the squad in Valkenburg in 2012 along with Tiernan-Locke.
"It's not my recollection," Rowe said of the accusations, before going on to question the reputation of Tiernan-Locke, who is currently serving a suspension for irregularities in his biological passport. "I think that it's no surprise that someone like him would say something like that. He's quite clearly a bitter and twisted individual, and he's still not over it all, and he's going to come out with a statement like that. I didn't get offered Tramadol at that race."
Cummings said that he was shocked to hear of Tiernan-Locke's accusations. "It was a surprise to me. First thing is no it never happened, and second thing is that Tramadol isn't banned," he said. "I can categorically say that it wasn't handed around. I was sat there."
Ellingworth, who was also in Valkenburg in his role as Great Britain coach, also stated that he had not seen Dr. Freeman handing out Tramadol. "I was there, I was on the bus. I never witnessed it ever. I was there, very much involved in it and I saw nothing at all," he said.
Tramadol is not banned, but it is on the UCI's monitoring list and has gained notoriety with rumours of its abuse within the peloton. It has also been blamed for crashes in the peloton. Several members of the cycling community, including Cannondale-Drapac doctor Prentice Steffen, have called for it to be banned outright. Team Sky have admitted to using it in the past but say that the team have since changed their policy.
Dr. Freeman had been due to attend the World Championships, but British Cycling decided that he should stay at home while there is an investigation into any wrongdoing at British cycling. The team are currently being looked after by the UCI doctors in Doha.
"When you look at the circumstances in the media last week, Richard had been doing a two-day trauma care course and he hadn't had chance to get across it all," said British Cycling Head Coach Iain Dyer. "As a result there was plenty to do back at base. We had planned to bring Richard here, but we were satisfied with using what the UCI have in place instead."
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