Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky are facing yet more scrutiny after a report in the Mail tells of a delivery of a medical package from the UK to the team's bus in France on the final stage of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, with allegations of a 'private' session between Wiggins and the team doctor in the back of the bus.
UK Anti Doping (UKAD) confirmed to Cyclingnews on Friday that it is “investigating an allegation of wrongdoing in cycling,” adding: “In order to protect the integrity of the investigation we will not comment further.”
The Mail’s Matt Lawton outlines how a member of staff at British Cycling flew from the UK to Geneva airport in Switzerland, before hiring a car and driving to La Toussuire on 12 June 2011, the day Wiggins secured overall victory at the Dauphine. The person in question was Simon Cope, a women’s coach at the time, but now the boss of Wiggins’ eponymous Continental team.
Cyclingnews has learnt that British Cycling paid for the Cope trip, and it was recharged back to Team Sky. Cope was also working with Team Sky, again with a recharge back to the team.
British Cycling confirmed that Cope was delivering a package containing medication for a Team Sky rider, but could not confirm which substance it was.
Wiggins has come under fire in recent weeks for his use of the banned corticosteroid triamcinolone acetonide under a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) on three occasions – just ahead of the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and the 2013 Giro d’Italia. The 36-year-old has been left to defend himself over the timing of the injections, his previous claims he had never used needles, and the veracity of the illness that led to the treatment.
Team Sky, Wiggins’ team at the time of all three injections, have also faced scrutiny over their stance on TUEs and their self-styled commitment to operating as a demonstrably clean team.
The Mail’s report also raises concern over an allegation that Wiggins received a 'private session' in the back of the Team Sky bus with team doctor Richard Freeman after completing his podium duties on the final day of the 2011 Dauphiné. This was just over two weeks before he was granted the first of his TUE's for triamcinolone.
"Team Sky was contacted by the Daily Mail regarding an allegation of wrongdoing. We take any issues such as this very seriously and immediately conducted an internal review to establish the facts," read a statement from the team sent to Cyclingnews.
"We are confident there has been no wrongdoing. We informed British Cycling of the allegation and asked them to contact UKAD, who we will continue to liaise with. Team Sky is committed to clean competition. Our position on anti-doping is well known and we 100% stand by that."
Cyclingnews reached out to Wiggins for a comment on Friday morning but he is yet to provide one.
Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford sought to dispel the idea Wiggins received treatment in the back of the bus, trying to prove to Lawton that the bus had left La Toussuire without waiting for Wiggins, who, in line with normal protocol, was driven away in a dedicated ‘podium vehicle’ after his media and anti-doping duties.
Confusion, however, arises over a YouTube video that appears to show Wiggins outside the Sky bus on that day, dressed in post-race clothing and giving an interview about his victory.
The report also recounts that Brailsford claimed Cope was not visiting Team Sky, but rather Emma Pooley, who would have been coached by Cope at the time. However, Pooley later confirmed she was not in La Toussuire on 12 June 2011, but rather at the Emakumeen Bira race in Spain, nearly 700 miles away.