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MP claims Wiggins's Fluimucil package a ‘convenient excuse, perhaps a cover for something else’

Peter Stuart
1 Mar 2017

Doping committee MP and journalist Matt Lawton outline flaws in explanation of Bradley Wiggins’ package in BBC interview this morning

Chris Matheson, an MP on the select committee into combatting doping in British Sport, and Matt Lawton, Chief Sports Reporter for the Daily Mail, offered a sharp criticism of the official narrative from Team Sky and British Cycling in an interview with Victoria Derbyshire this morning on BBC Two, ahead of Simon Cope’s appearance at the select committee this afternoon.

The scandal began in October, when Sportsmail first revealed an allegation surrounding a mystery package delivered from Manchester to Bradley Wiggins at the Criterium du Dauphine, by British Cycling’s women coach Simon Cope.

Lawton broke the story, and reiterated today that an allegation of wrongdoing surrounded that initial story.

‘There was an allegation. This all began with an allegation which was a story I was told about the package. I then began to ask questions about the package,’ he said on the BBC interview this morning.

He has implied on Twitter, and elsewhere, that an illicit substance may have been at the heart of that allegation, while Sir Dave Brailsford has claimed that the package contained legal decongestant Fluimucil.

During today's select committee hearing, MPs and UKAD CEO Nicola Sapstead discussed an apparent large supply of prohibited performance booster corticosteroid triamcinolone in British Cycling's medical stores, in contrast with no records whatsoever of any supply Fluimucil.

Bradley Wiggins received TUEs for corticosteroid triamcinolone in 2011 and 2012.

Outlining his scepticism at the explanations offered by Sir Dave Brailsford at the select committee hearing in December, Lawton said ‘British Cycling submitted Simon Cope’s expenses documents to the committee... Bearing in mind this was a seven-day race, Wiggins won the race, if he was ill then he was presumably ill midway through the race.’

Lawton explained, ‘Simon Cope was asked to go and get the package and travel to Manchester to get the package on June 8th 2011, he didn’t arrive in La Toussuire in France for Freeman to treat Wiggins until June 12th.

‘So what we have is a situation where he was given a medication that they could have nipped across a road in France to a pharmacy and bought.

'If Bradley Wiggins was ill he the doctor told him he had to wait four days to treat him, but he still won the race.’ Lawton claimed that he didn’t find this account of the events convincing.

‘I find that quite implausible, I find it worrying.’

While the suggestion of the problematic implication of this time delay does hold weight, it’s worth remembering that Fluimucil requires no TUE, so would not have necessarily warranted an immediate diagnoses of illness and could have legally been applied as a prophylactic measure.

However, Lawton sharply criticises the official explanation of Fluimucil on other grounds, highlighting that this was never given as an explanation during his initial inquiries, when Brailsford allegedly tried several means of avoiding publication of the article.

‘Bearing in mind that my original question, it was over a week between my original questions and that meeting, that’s not quite true it was four or five days, and Fluimucil wasn’t mentioned.

'It was over a week before we printed that a story... In no time in that period were we ever given fluimucil as a reason.’

Lawton also suggested that the paper trail that was promised at the select committee in December will not surface.

‘The key thing today is that in December Sir Dave Brailsford and Bob Howden agreed with the committee that there should be a paper trail that proves that the package had contained fluimucil.

'I believe today that the UKAD chief executive will confirm that there’s no paper trail,’ he said.

Chris Matheson MP had a similarly sceptical perspective on the testimony offered by Brailsford. ‘I have my doubts,’ he said.

He claimed it was a ‘very convenient excuse, perhaps as a cover for something else.’

Matheson brought up the issue of Wiggins’s asthma prohibiting the use of Fluimucil, ‘its instructions say that it’s not suitable to be given to people with Asthma and we understand Bradley Wiggins has Asthma.’

He made clear there are still many questions to be answered, starting with Cope at the next hearing.

‘We need to be asking him if he knew what was in the package, why didn’t he know. Why was he working doing this courier job if he was meant to be the leader the women’s team, the manager of the women’s team?

'Where do his responsibilities to Team Sky begin, and his responsibilities to UK cycling end.’

Victoria Derbyshire questioned Matheson on whether he would summon Wiggins to speak ahead of the committee.

'We haven’t yet, but we will keep all options open,’ he responded.

‘We’re working our way through the evidence… At the same time of course, we’re talking about issues that might be considered be medically confidential to him so we have to respect that confidentiality.’

Team Sky’s doctor in 2011, Dr Richard Freeman, was also summoned to the committee, but did not appear owing to illness.

The select committee hearing evidence from Cope and Sapstead met at 2pm today, Wednesday 1st March, and will shortly be available on iPlayer in full.

The full interview with Victoria Derbyshire can be found here