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Lappartient wants CADF to investigate Team Sky

UCI President David Lappartient wants to have the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation, the UCI's independent testing and adjudication body, investigate Team Sky in the wake of the publication of the report summarising the findings of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on combating doping in sport.

Although UKAD last year declined to find Team Sky violated anti-doping rules and has kept their inquiry closed after the publication of the report, the Select Committee highlighted behaviour from the team that, while technically not in violation of the rules, pushed ethical boundaries.

"Contrary to the testimony of David Brailsford in front of the Committee, we believe that drugs were being used by Team Sky, within the WADA rules, to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical need," the report stated.

In an interview with the BBC, Lappartient noted the report and suggested that the CADF should look into its findings.

"We have the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation, they have the power of investigation. I would like them to do this, to see if there is some violation of anti-doping rules."

Team Sky have told Cyclingnews that they will respond to the UCI if contacted.

"Team Sky is happy to co-operate with any investigation by the UCI and we would welcome further scrutiny of the Select Committee's report," the team stated.

UKAD last November concluded an investigation into whether Team Sky violated the anti-doping rules when it arranged to have a medical package transported from British Cycling headquarters to the squad at the Criterium du Dauphine in France by Simon Cope. The 'jiffy bag' was said to have been for Bradley Wiggins - team principal David Brailsford claimed it contained a legal decongestant - but the team could produce no documentation to support their claims. The UKAD was critical of British Cycling and Team Sky's medical practices but could find no evidence they had violated rules.

The Select Committee's report was critical of Team Sky's use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions for triamcinolone, which Wiggins took several times to treat severe pollen allergies. The Select Committee's report alleged that the team used the corticosteroid injections to enhance performance, accusations which Wiggins has steadfastly denied.

Lappartient acknowledged that Team Sky acted within the rules to obtain the TUEs, but criticized the team for its practices nonetheless and worried that the case would damage the sport's credibility.

"So you have to put this in the context of the time; the grey zone was too big and it seemed that this grey zone has been used by Team Sky at the time so, is it doping? Is it just using the rules? That is why the MPs' report just says they were not breaching the rules," Lappartient said to the BBC.

"I read the press release from Team Sky say[ing] 'look we apologise, we recognise that we made some mistakes'. A mistake is something you've done without an intention to be wrong. The report is a little bit different.

"It seems that it was a little bit organised, so it's maybe not a mistake but a fault, which is different, because that could affect the credibility globally of our sport and that's why I'm concerned about this."

When asked if he agreed with the MPs that Team Sky "crossed the ethical line", Lappartient said: "It's in the report, what I can read, you can see that substances were used not for health problems or with strong pain but to increase your performances, then yes, that is something unacceptable for me and the philosophy we have, even if it seems there is no breach, no violation of the rules."

The Frenchman said that such practices could be called cheating even if they were not against the rules. "If you are using substances to increase your performances I think this is exactly what is cheating," he said.

Team Sky responded to the accusations, telling Cyclingnews, "While we have acknowledged past failings, we strongly deny the very serious new allegations about the use of medication to enhance performance, as does Bradley Wiggins.

"Furthermore, we are concerned that the Committee presented these unsubstantiated allegations without providing evidence to support them, which is fundamentally unfair to the Team and its riders.

"We welcome any review by the UCI which can help establish the nature of the evidence relied on by the Committee in coming to its conclusions."

Chris Froome's case

Lappartient cast doubt on a rapid resolution to the other anti-doping issue plaguing Team Sky - Chris Froome's salbutamol adverse analytical finding (AAF).

Although Froome turned up with a level of the asthma drug salbutamol double the legal limit en route to winning the Vuelta a Espana nearly six months ago, his case is yet to be resolved. He is currently allowed to race under the rules for 'specified substances' such as asthma drugs and is competing in Tirreno-Adriatico.

While Lappartient previously requested that Team Sky should keep Froome out of competition until his case is concluded, he has emphasized that the rights of athletes should be respected.

"Of course we have to respect the rights of Chris Froome to defend what he thinks and what he believes with experts. So that's why it's taking some time," Lappartient told the BBC.

"I'm not sure we can have the decision before May's Giro d'Italia - I hope we can have it at least before the Tour de France in July because, can you imagine if he's riding the Giro and with spectators crying against him, or if at the end he's disqualified from the Giro - that's something difficult for our sport."

If the case is still pending at the start of the Tour, Lappartient says he will ask the team to consider keeping Froome from defending his title.

"I think if we have no decision of course before the Tour de France I will ask them to reconsider maybe their position and to consider my first proposition," he said.

Lappartient said that even though legally, Froome has a right to ride, having him at the Tour de France before his case was resolved "would be a disaster for the image of cycling".

"But for the image of our sport that could be a disaster and I don't want to put our sport into trouble. So even for him to be more concentrated on defending his own case, from my point of view it would have been better for him not to ride."

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