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British Cycling select committee hearing: What happened

Josh Cunningham
19 Dec 2016

All you need to know about the hearing today in Parliament: TUEs, relationships between Sky and BC, and the mystery package.

The culture, media and sport select committee today held hearings in Parliament concerning Team Sky and British Cycling, and specifically whether there has been any anti-doping infringements between them.

The hearing is a result of the leak during the summer that shed light on TUEs that had been used, and the reality of a package being delivered to Bradley Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine. The select committee's aims were to identify if there has been any wrongdoing, and if so, what the circumstances and products 

The first hearing was with Robert Howden, president and chair of British Cycling, and Dr George Gilbert, BC board director and chair of British Cycling's Ethics Commission. 

- It was announced prior to proceedings that UKAD welcomed the committee's asking of questions concerning the package, to which Howden said he was surprised as he had been advised by UKAD not to speak about it.

- When pushed, Howden said that he was not aware of any doping products inside the package.

- Continual questioning on the package only saw Howden and Gilbert say that they had no knowledge of the package or what was in it, and that they would not be commenting further on account of the advice given by UKAD.

- When asked whether the relationship between Team Sky and British Cycling is too interwoven, Howden said that it was important at first, but that it is an increasingly separate relationship, especially with British Cycling's new partnership with HSBC.

- A final questioning from John Nicholson MP readdressed the 'sense of frustration in the room' regarding the package. He requested that should the package have contained pharmaceuticals, Howden and Gilbert write the chair disclosing what. They both agreed.

The second hearing was with Shane Sutton, former technical director of British Cycling and coach of Bradley Wiggins.

- Sutton also said that he didn't know what was in the package, but that he authorised its delivery.

- He said there was a request to have something sent down, and that he aware Simon Cope [who delivered the package] was travelling to the race anyway.

- Sutton maintained that his job as coach was separate from those of Bradley Wiggins' doctors, and that he wouldn't know about their dealings.

- To find out what was in the package, Sutton said that the committee would have to ask whoever packed it and whoever opened it.

- Sutton said that he's sure when the contents of the package are revealed, things will be clearer.

- He made a point of saying that he's upset about the implied wrongdoing surrounding the team.

Dave Brailsford, the general manager of Team Sky, was the final witness to be questioned.

- Brailsford said that the process of TUE applications is a concern for the team doctors, and that he trusted their decisions.

- He said that Dr Richard Freeman, the doctor in question, had told him that the package contained Fluimicil, a decongestant found in nebulisers. 

- Asked whether he thought it was appropriate that Wiggins' medical records be made available, Brailsford said that they have already been made available to UKAD.

- Brailsford maintained that the reason that Cope delivered the package was purely logistical. According to him, Dr Freeman requested it, Sutton arranged it, team physio Phil Burt packed it and Simon Cope delivered it. 

- He says that there are times when a rider's medical circumstances are relevant, and times when they aren't. Hence the apparent lack of communication and knowledge between staff members.

- Brailsford is asked his opinion on the events having lead to a select committee hearing, and of the damage caused to cycling's reputation. ['Was it that there was something to be hidden?' It felt as though was the load within the question]. He said he agreed that it should never have ended up in Parliament, and that he regrets the way he has dealt with it. The way Team Sky deal with TUEs he said has been addressed since, as well as considerations of more transparency while retaining a 'competitive advantage.' 

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