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Has UKAD failed to investigate the Linda McCartney team?

A Linda McCartney rider at the 2000 edition of Gent-Wevelgem

A Linda McCartney rider at the 2000 edition of Gent-Wevelgem

Key witnesses who expected to be interviewed by UK Anti Doping as part of the investigation into the Linda McCartney team, have confirmed that they have never been contacted by the British anti-doping authority.

The UKAD investigation into the British team was first announced in December 2012, after The Times newspaper passed on witness testimony of doping to UK Anti-Doping, yet there appears to have been little or no follow-up by UKAD in the aftermath.

Sean Yates who was a sport's director on the team, as well Max Sciandri and Matt Stephens, both of whom rode for the squad, have all confirmed to Cyclingnews that they have not been contacted by UK Anti-Doping. They, and the principal source of allegations of doping within the team, has told a source close to Cyclingnews that he has not been contacted by the anti-doping body. Cyclingnews has seen the majority of evidence between the two sources that confirms this.

Cyclingnews has also seen the testimony in which three members of the Linda McCartney team claim that there was doping within the squad. Speaking to The Times when the investigation was announced, then UKAD CEO Andy Parkinson said: "As is always the case, any information is assessed by UK Anti-Doping for its accuracy and relevance."

The Times report continued: "UK Anti-Doping's pursuit of the case is driven partly to establish whether there are any questionable links between the Linda McCartney Foods team and the professional units at the pinnacle of British cycling today."

Cyclingnews spoke to Sean Yates at the recent Criterium du Dauphine. He currently works for the Tinkoff team and was a director at Team Sky until 2012, before he briefly retired for personal reasons. He confirmed to Cyclingnews that UKAD had not contacted him at any point since their promise to launch their investigation. Yates was part of the management of the team and was their director at the Giro d'Italia in 2000.

Former British national champion Matt Stephens rode the 2000 Giro d'Italia for the McCartney team. He had a successful career in the UK, both before and after his time at the McCartney team.

"I saw the article back in 2012 in The Times, read it, and found it interesting," he told Cyclingnews.

"I expected that I would get a phone call or something. I was in the public eye a bit but I haven't had any contact with them at all."

Stephens currently commentates for Eurosport and also works for the YouTube cycling channel GCN. His media profile means that he is comparatively easy to track down when compared to other members of the team who were from outside of the United Kingdom.

Asked if he was surprised not to receive any contact from UKAD, he replied: "A little bit. This is purely objective but when they said that they were going to launch an investigation it was a very small team. It's not a lot of people to seek out and find. Most spoke English and I live in the UK. I've heard nothing."

The team was set up and managed by Julian Clarke. Cyclingnews were unable to contact him, although were told by a source close to him that he had not been contacted by UKAD.

"I can't speak for Julian but if he was the one that helped pass on information and they've not contacted him four years down the line, that's quite interesting," Stephens added.

Max Sciandri, who signed for the McCartney team as a seasoned veteran in 2000 is now a director at BMC Racing. He previously held a position at the British Cycling academy, where he coached and mentored young riders.

When contacted by Cyclingnews and asked if UKAD had contacted him, his response mirrored that of Stephens and Yates.

"No, nobody. I can't remember anything. No, nothing."

Cyclingnews also contacted Roger Palfreeman. He was the doctor at the McCartney team during the time of the doping allegations. He has worked at BMC but is now employed by Team Sky. We emailed his current employers, asking if we could talk to him and they assured us that although they had passed the email on, they could not guarantee if he would answer questions relating to his time at the McCartney squad.

Palfreeman was at the Criterium du Dauphine last week and when asked directly if UKAD had ever been in contact with him in relation to the McCartney investigation he responded: "no comment."

Cyclingnews contacted UKAD over the matter. We asked them who had been contacted in relation to the investigation and if the investigation was still on going.

UKAD spokeswoman Sophie Ashcroft told Cyclingnews: "UK Anti-Doping does not discuss or disclose information in relation to its investigations, as doing so may serve to undermine the investigation itself and what we are trying to achieve – protecting clean sport and clean athletes through preventing, deterring and detecting of doping. UKAD never considers an investigation to be closed as there is always a possibility that new information or intelligence may come to light.

"Athletes, support personnel, fans and even the media all play a huge role in supporting UKAD's work, through the provision of vital intelligence and information which can help shape our investigations. We would encourage anyone with information about doping to help us to protect their sport by contacting us via"

Cyclingnews then sent three specific questions to UKAD.

Why has UKAD not approached the key witness who provided the majority evidence?

Why did UKAD not approach two leading riders from within the team who are from the United Kingdom?

Can UKAD confirm if they had contacted anyone in relation to this case?

The UKAD responded, saying, "we do not discuss or disclose information in relation to investigations, as doing so may serve to undermine the investigation itself."

The Linda McCartney team was set up in 1998 by Julian Clarke. The team became the first British squad to race in the Giro d'Italia, competing in the 2000 edition of the race, winning a stage through David McKenzie. They disbanded at the end of the year with debts owed to several of the riders.

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Daniel Benson
Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he 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 ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.