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UKAD closes Wiggins jiffy bag investigation

Peter Stuart
15 Nov 2017

UKAD says that no anti-doping charges will be issued over the controversial package

UKAD has officially closed its investigations into the package received by Team Sky for medicinal use by Bradley Wiggins during the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011, known informally as the ‘jiffy bag', concluding that the anti-doping body is unable to refute Team Sky’s claim that it contained the decongestant Fluimicil.

The ‘Jiffy bag’ was surrounded with speculation and concern around its possible contents. It was couriered personally by Simon Cope, the coach to British Cycling’s women’s team, from British Cycling’s headquarters in Manchester to the finish of the Criterium du Dauphine in Chatel. Cope claimed no knowledge of the package's contents.

While Team Sky’s doctor Dr Richard Freeman claimed it was a legal decongestant named Fluimicil, neither the team nor British Cycling had sufficient medical records to fully verify this account. 

Commentators also pointed out that while the medicine was sourced from Switzerland then couriered from Manchester, it would have been available for purchase in the area of the Dauphine’s finish in France.

‘Despite very significant effort on UKAD's part, UKAD remains unable to confirm or refute the account that the package delivered to Team Sky contained Fluimucil,’ the statement reads. ‘It follows that UKAD does not intend to issue any anti-doping charges in relation to the package.’

‘As with all investigations, UKAD may revisit matters if new and material information were to come to light.  Otherwise however, UKAD has now exhausted all the investigative possibilities open to it at this stage, and it is therefore not actively pursuing any further lines of enquiry in relation to the package.’ 

Investigation was hampered

However, there was a stark note of disappointment in the defence offered by British Cycling and Team Sky from Nicola Sapstead, Chief Executive of UKAD, ‘Our investigation was hampered by a lack of accurate medical records being available at British Cycling. This is a serious concern,’ she said. 

‘As part of their conditions to receive public funding from UK Sport and other Home Country Sports Councils, all sports governing bodies must comply with the UK National Anti-Doping Policy.’ 

She also touched on what many have perceived as a concerning overlap between Team Sky and British Cycling’s operations. ‘In this case the matter was further complicated by the cross over between personnel at British Cycling and Team Sky.’

British Cycling has responded with its own statement, admitting that it fell short. 'UKAD’s findings represent an organisation and culture that, despite delivering on the world stage, did not meet the high standards that British Cycling today holds itself to,' said British Cycling chief executive officer Julie Harrington.

'British Cycling have implemented a number of significant changes to the management of our medical services to the Great Britain Cycling Team following a review instigated in March by chair Jonathan Browning, shortly after his appointment,' she continued. 

British Cycling has defended its link with Team Sky as 'a positive force for cycling in this country'. However Harrington accepted that 'the relationship between British Cycling and Team Sky developed rapidly and as a result, at times, resulted in the blurring of the boundaries between the two.'

Investigation by GMC

While UKAD has closed its investigation, it has handed over its evidence to the General Medical Council, who will continue to investigate the conduct of medical staff involved in the UKAD investigation. 'We note that UKAD have referred information arising from their investigation to the General Medical Council and we offer them our wholehearted cooperation,' Harrington said.

Dr Richard Freeman did not appear at the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee which was investigating the jiffy bag scandal due to poor health. 

Evidence that may have assisted in proving that the package did indeed contain Fluimicil was lost by Freeman, as his medical records were kept on laptop which he claims was stolen on a holiday in Greece.

Dr Freeman and Team Sky were also under pressure to explain why the medical stores at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester contained large quantities of Triamcinolone, a corticosteroid banned in competition, and also why the centre had received delivery of testosterone patches.

Dr Freeman resigned from British Cycling in October, citing his poor health as a reason.

 

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