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Team Sky issue statement, while board chairman voices support

Cyclist magazine
8 Mar 2017

Team Sky statement seeks to clarify 'factual inaccuracies' and incorrect 'assumptions and assertions'

Team Sky have issued a formal statement in response to ongoing questions surrounding the mystery package delivered to Bradley Wiggins during the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné, insisting the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) investigation into the matter 'has, to date found no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the allegation that was made'.

The claims of potential wrongdoing arose after it emerged a medical package had been flown from Manchester to France during the 2011 Dauphiné by British Cycling women's coach Simon Cope and personally delivered to team doctor Richard Freeman to be administered to Wiggins.

It was alleged that the package contained the corticosteroid triamcinolone, which was subsequently administered to Wiggins via injection following the final stage of the race.

All parties involved have insisted the allegations are false, claiming instead that the package contained the decongestent Fluimucil. 

The lengthy document, titled 'Team Sky – Points of Clarification on UKAD investigation and Evolution of Anti-Doping and Medical Practices', was released on the Team Sky website on Tuesday afternoon.

Chairman of the Team Sky board, Graham McWiliam, tweeted his support of the team shortly after. 

'Co-operated fully'

According to the statement, the team say they have 'co-operated fully' with the UKAD investigation into the matter and look forward to its conclusion. 

Team Sky are obviously keen to point out facts surrounding the investigation that favour their position, such as reminding us: 'UKAD's extensive investigation has, to date, found no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the allegation that was made.'

The statement also addresses some details surrounding the matter that have been pinpointed as questionable or inconsistent, including the need for the package of Fluimucil to be flown all the way from Manchester when it was readily available locally in France.

'This is a misunderstanding... It is our understanding that while Fluimucil is licensed for sale in France, the particular form used by the team (i.e. 3ml, 10% ampoule form for use in a nebulizer) is not available for sale in France,' the team claims. And while it reiterates the legality of Fluimicil within anti-doping rules, and that both Dr Freeman and Bradley Wiggins both claim that's what the package contained, at no point does the statement itself corroborate this. 

Regarding the lack of medical records, the presence of which would likely end the case in one way or another, the statement goes back to the fact that Dr Freeman kept his records on a personal computer which was stolen, rather than upload them to Dropbox as they'd have preferred. The statement refutes claims made in the media of the amount of triamcinolone ordered by the team, as well as claiming that a percentage of that which was ordered was not intended for rider use.

'According to Dr Freeman, the majority was used in his private practice to treat Team Sky and British Cycling staff. It is common in professional cycling for team doctors to provide medical services to staff who require advice or treatment, and this is part of the formal job description for all of our doctors.'

The statement then goes on to detail how Team Sky have made steps to improve their anti-doping and medical practices, from protocols on substance ordering, the sharing of medical information, hiring of regulatory staff and a whistle blowing policy. Read it in full here.