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Team Sky 'crossed the ethical line' says select committee in anti-doping report

Joe Robinson
5 Mar 2018

Report could act as final blow for Team Sky suggesting Wiggins took performance-enhancing drugs to win Tour de France

The much awaited government report into 'doping in sport' has suggested that Team Sky and Sir Bradley Wiggins abused Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) for performance enhancing drugs to win the 2012 Tour de France.

The report that comes from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport select committee will be the biggest blow yet for Team Sky, Bradley Wiggins and British Cycling as it also suggests that the team misapplied the TUE system in order for Wiggins to take corticosteroids in the lead up to his Tour victory.

It also contradicts the argument that these powerful drugs were acquired with the sole purpose of treating a medical condition of the now-retired rider.

The report reads, 'From the evidence that has been received by the committee, we believe that this powerful corticosteroid [triamcinolone] was being used to prepare Bradley Wiggins, and possibly other riders supporting him, for the Tour de France.

'The purpose of this was not to treat medical need, but to improve his power-to-weight ratio ahead of the race. The application for the TUE for the triamcinolone for Bradley Wiggins, ahead of the 2012 Tour de France, also meant that he benefited from the performance-enhancing properties of this drug during the race.'

While the report understands no anti-doping violations were committed it does suggest that this crossed 'the ethical line' set by Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford and 'that drugs were being used by Team Sky, within the WADA rules, to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical need.'

This damning 54-page report then turned to criticise Brailsford in regards to record-keeping and transparency of the team in regards to the contents of a jiffy bag that was hand-delivered by Simon Cope to Team Sky and Dr Richard Freeman at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.

Brailsford told the committee that the package contained legal decongestive drug Fluimicil but was unable to prove this as the medical records kept on Dr Freeman's laptop had been stolen in 2014 with no back-up being kept. 

While the select committee admits it is 'not in a position to state what was in the package' it does lambast Brailsford and team staff calling for 'responsibility'.

'Team Sky’s statements that coaches and team managers are largely unaware of the methods used by the medical staff to prepare pro-cyclists for major races seem incredible, and inconsistent with their original aim of "winning clean", and maintaining the highest ethical standards within their sport,' says the report,' the report slams.

'How can David Brailsford ensure that his team is performing to his requirements, if he does not know and cannot tell, what drugs the doctors are giving the riders?

'David Brailsford must take responsibility for these failures, the regime under which Team Sky riders trained and competed and the damaging scepticism about the legitimacy of his team’s performance and accomplishments.'

Immediately after the report was released, Wiggins tweeted his own statement stating, 'I find it so sad that accusations can be made, where people can be accused of things they have never done, which are then regarded as facts.

'I strongly refute the claim that any drug was used without medical need.'

Additionally, Team Sky responded with their own statement denying the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs but also acknowledging their errors in regards to poor record keeping.

'The report details again areas in the past where we have already acknowledged that the Team fell short. We take full responsibility for mistakes that were made. We wrote to the committee in March 2017 setting out in detail the steps we took in subsequent years to put them right, including, for example, the strengthening of our medical record keeping.'

The statement continued, 'However, the report also makes the serious claim that medication has been used by the team to enhance performance.

'We strongly refute this. The report also includes an allegation of widespread triamcinolone use by Team Sky riders ahead of the 2012 Tour de France. Again, we strongly refute this allegation.

'We are surprised and disappointed that the committee has chosen to present an anonymous and potentially malicious claim in this way, without presenting any evidence or giving us an opportunity to respond. This is unfair both to the team and to the riders in question.

'We take our responsibility to the sport seriously. We are committed to creating an environment at Team Sky where riders can perform to the best of their ability, and do it clean.'