UKAD may face questions over Linda McCartney Foods Cycling Team investigation

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

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

Damian Collins, the chair of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee probing anti-doping policies, has told Cyclingnews that the next hearing on February 22 may discuss the UKAD investigation opened in 2012 into the Linda McCartney Foods cycling team.

The UKAD investigation into British Cycling and Team Sky will lead the hearing but Collins said that the committee's interest may extend beyond that. "We will also be asking UKAD about historic investigations, possibly including the investigation into the McCartney team," Collins said.

UKAD's chief executive, Nicole Sapstead, is among those called to the next select committee hearing on February 22.

The investigation into the Linda McCartney Foods Cycling Team was opened in 2012, after information was passed to UKAD by The Times newspaper. Several key figures within the team — notably sports director Sean Yates, rider Max Sciandri and team doctor Roger Palfreeman — later became pivotal to the successes of British Cycling and Team Sky.

"One of our concerns will be establishing if UKAD lack the power, resources or authority — or anything else — that may be inhibiting them," Collins said. "We may make final recommendations on what we are told."

One of the key issues will also be the length of statute of limitations — currently ten years — and how that may also inhibit effective anti-doping. The Linda McCartney team collapsed due to lack of sponsorship in early 2001.

"It's not one of the areas we've looked at yet," Collins said of the current statute of limitations, "But it's something we may have a view on for the final report."

Also scheduled to appear on February 22 are Richard Freeman, Team Sky doctor at the time of the jiffy bag delivery to Bradley Wiggins, and Simon Cope, (who rode with the Linda McCartney team before later becoming a women's team manager at British Cycling) and who delivered the jiffy bag to Freeman and Wiggins in June 2011.

Collins said that the committee is still to finalise Cope's appearance on February 22. “Simon Cope has a concern over the date so we can offer to speak to him remotely, or on a different day, if need be. We can accommodate that.”

Sapstead's appearance before the committee on February 22 will be UKAD's third and she is expected to give much greater insight than there has been to date into the investigation into British Cycling and Team Sky.

"UKAD are indicating they will be in a position to talk about the investigation by February 22," Collins said. "We hope to be able to understand what evidence has been made available to them and if not, then why not."

According to Collins, the February 22 hearing is likely to be the last “unless something comes out that warrants a further hearing.

"I'd expect the committee will report in the second half of March," he said. "If the results of the UKAD investigation are that they cannot determine what products are being administered, that puts Sky in a very bad position. How can they substantiate their claims regarding the team’s medical needs when they can’t provide records of their doctor's prescriptions?"

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