Select Committee report to reflect concerns over Team Sky and British Cycling

The Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee has told Cyclingnews that their report into combatting doping within sport will be published within the coming weeks and that concerns over Team Sky and British Cycling will be reflected in their findings.

The Select Committee called Dave Brailsford, Shane Sutton and representatives from British Cycling to give evidence as part of their inquiry after it came to light that Bradley Wiggins, formerly of Team Sky, was treated with an unknown medical substance at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2011. The contents of the package are central to an ongoing investigation, led by UKAD, into a potential doping violation. Team Sky have claimed – but not backed up with any evidence – that the package contained the decongestant Fluimucil.

It was reported last August that Wiggins was administered doses of the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone before several Grand Tour appearances. UKAD are still investigating a claim that the Dauphiné package contained the same substance.

The Select Committee have not investigated Team Sky or British Cycling in relation to a possible doping violation. Within their remit they have gathered evidence into how the governing bodies have adhered to the rules surrounding anti-doping. While the Select Committee have no powers in terms of sanctions, they can make recommendations and provide an independent overview of their findings.

"Throughout the inquiry we've been critical over areas of concern that we've identified between British Cycling and Team Sky. I think it's fair to say that this will be reflected in the report," Damian Collins MP told Cyclingnews.

Team Sky have been heavily criticized by both UKAD and members of the select committee over their lack of medical records in relation to this case.

Dave Brailsford initially told The Daily Mail that the medical package's courier, Simon Cope, was meeting with Emma Pooley during his trip to mainland Europe. This proved to be factually inaccurate, with Pooley several hundred miles away from where Brailsford had indicated. The Mail also claimed that the Team Sky boss tried to steer the story towards a more 'positive' conclusion before offering up a story on a rival team.

Brailsford also claimed that Wiggins could not have been treated at the end of the Dauphiné because the Team Sky bus had already left the race. It came to light that this was also false. Shane Sutton confirmed to the Select Committee that the package had been for Wiggins and that the contents had been administered by Dr. Richard Freeman to the rider.

"All I can say is that in our report, we'll go through these things in detail. They're all matters that we've taken evidence on and we'll go through that in detail and come to our view. I'm not going to pre-empt that now. It would be wrong of me to do so but we will form a very clear opinion on what we think about the behaviour of the individuals involved."

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Collins has previously stated that the reputations of Team Sky and British Cycling had been left 'in tatters'. Both bodies have claimed to run clean and ethically moral practices, but the fact that they could not provide detailed medical records undermined their position during questioning earlier this year.

"Our criticisms of British Cycling have been clear," Collins continued.

"How can you properly police the anti-doping code, not just whether there's been a violation but also what medicines are being used for, if you don't keep proper records?"

Dr. Freeman, who resigned last week from his role at British Cycling due to health concerns, claimed that his laptop – which allegedly housed the only documentation of Wiggins' medical records relating to the Dauphine package – had been stolen. British Cycling and Team Sky were unable to account for the records relating to the package or the purchase of decongestant, while the team also faced questions over why they had gone to the lengths of flying out a substance at such cost when it could have been sourced locally.

"There's clearly issues about the relationship between Team Sky and British Cycling, where roles seem interchangeable and no one seems to be auditing that effectively," Collins added.

 "There were clearly issues of auditing and governance, where there were failures. That was pretty clear and we'll say more about that in the report.

"As for Team Sky, that's a private team and we'll draw our conclusions in our report about what the whole Jiffy bag affair says about the way Team Sky are run. Ultimately, as a parliamentary committee we obviously take an active interest in British Cycling, as it receives public funding."

In relation to Brailsford, who continues to lead Team Sky, Collins said:
 "With regards to Brailsford, we'll give our views in the report about what I said before, the issues of failure of governance that can be directed at British Cycling but also at Team Sky, too, because they don't have proper medical records either around the time of the jiffy bag affair. That reflects poorly on them.

"If Dave Brailsford's intention is that Team Sky operates on a higher standard than other teams in terms of the ethics of the use of medication for cyclists, then how can he be sure if proper records aren't kept. Also, how can you police that ethical line of using medication to enhance performance, rather than just treat medical needs. A team manager, presumably, needs proper systems in place to monitor what's going on and they clearly weren't there."

Freeman's departure

According to Collins, Dr. Freeman's decision to step down from his role at British Cycling will have no affect on the report's outcome. The doctor could still face further questions from the General Medical Council (GMC), and UKAD.

"From our point of view it doesn't make any difference. If we have questions to put to him in the future as part of our report then we'd expect him to respond. Equally if there are charges brought by UKAD, the GMC or anyone then he will face those questions, whether he's employed by British Cycling or not. The fact that he stood back is probably a reflection of his general health, but from our point of view it doesn't change anything.

"I'm hoping that the report will be produced in the next few weeks," Collins said. "We had originally hoped to produce it by the end of this month but it will be early next month. It will be produced shortly."

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