British fan passes vial of pills found during Paris-Roubaix to UK Anti-Doping

Mike Brampton says pills fell from rider’s pocket during crash – and he has pictures showing who it was

by Simon_MacMichael   April 17, 2014  

London 2012 Anti-Doping Laboratory (picture credit LOCOG)

A British cycling fan who retrieved a vial of pills from the roadside during Paris-Roubaix will today pass it to UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) for analysis – and says he has pictures that show it falling from the jersey pocket of an unnamed rider as he crashed, reports Telegraph.co.uk.

The fan who found the vial, Mike Brampton, is managing director of a veterinary equipment supplier based in West Sussex, Thames Medical, which tweeted a picture of the vial from its account on Tuesday.

Yesterday, he received a reply from UCI president Brian Cookson.

The crash happened around halfway through the race, won by Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Niki Terpstra, although Mr Brampton isn’t saying exactly where it happened, nor the identity of the rider involved. He told Telegraph.co.uk he would give that information to UKAD, however.

“Basically the crash happened and then they all got up and the soigneur pushed the rider away,” he explained. “I’d already spotted the vial, as had others. It was actually pointed out to the soigneur who sort of shrugged his shoulders as if to say ‘nothing to do with me’.

“I’d rather not say who was involved or where exactly it happened but it was roughly halfway through the race between cobbled sections, not on a cobbled section itself.

“It will absolutely be possible to pinpoint who the vial belongs to. I have 34 in-sequence photographs from about 15ft away, pin sharp. In one of them you can actually see the vial falling from the rider’s pocket.

"Though there is one shot missing which is of me picking up the vial – that is because the voiture balai [broom wagon] was about to run me over and obscured the shot.”

As Telegraph.co.uk points out, there is nothing to suggest that the vial contains anything illegal, although cycling’s history of doping does mean that such a discovery is likely to lead people to think the worst.

Mr Brampton himself is hopeful that there will be an innocent explanation. “Whatever it is, it’s official,” he said. “There was a torn bar code on it.

“I’ve spoken to UKAD twice today and they are taking it very seriously. They are sending someone down tomorrow so they can bag it, seal it and have it tested. But I’m sure it’s nothing sinister. Well, I’d like to think not.

"Some people have been critical of my decision to make this public but my genuine hope, as I’m sure it is of most cycling fans, is that it turns out to be absolutely nothing and the powder is something like magnesium or beta-Alanine or something else not on the banned list,” he added.

38 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

"Yeah, Mr Customs official I found it on the road, it's not mine!"

"Is that right sir" (sound effect of rubber glove being slipped on)

southseabythesea's picture

posted by southseabythesea [107 posts]
17th April 2014 - 11:47

21 Likes

I find it hard to understand a cycling fan behaving in this way, unless he was hoping for some publicity (at the expense of the sport he was there supporting!?)

posted by velorules [11 posts]
17th April 2014 - 11:54

18 Likes

Whatever the substance is there is probably no effective "chain of custody"

I hope do that the results of it's analysis are published, otherwise there will be yet another smoking gun, for the rumour mungers to play with.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
17th April 2014 - 11:59

13 Likes

Maybe it was just Essence du Lance, a new fragrance for the podium...

posted by fatty [74 posts]
17th April 2014 - 12:14

22 Likes

velorules wrote:
I find it hard to understand a cycling fan behaving in this way, unless he was hoping for some publicity (at the expense of the sport he was there supporting!?)

+ 1, publicity hunter.

If it was me, I would have flagged it to the authorities and only went public if nothing got done about it.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [768 posts]
17th April 2014 - 12:24

14 Likes

Flying Scot wrote:
velorules wrote:
I find it hard to understand a cycling fan behaving in this way, unless he was hoping for some publicity (at the expense of the sport he was there supporting!?)

+ 1, publicity hunter.

If it was me, I would have flagged it to the authorities and only went public if nothing got done about it.

Also.... why wait until nearly a week after the race and then go to the Torygraph? Why not flag down a steward, demand to speak with race officials on the spot, and pass over all evidence.

Waiting until after the event has passed means that phial could have been tampered with.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [623 posts]
17th April 2014 - 12:42

16 Likes

It obviously did no good to the rider as, if i've read the article correct, he has taken pictures but one is missing where he nearly gets hit by the broom wagon, where seems to indicate it happened near the rear of the race / peloton.

Although i could be wrong and he waited till all the riders had passed before going to pick it up.

In the end i hope its nothing serious.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [3017 posts]
17th April 2014 - 12:54

16 Likes

zanf wrote:

Also.... why wait until nearly a week after the race and then go to the Torygraph? Why not flag down a steward, demand to speak with race officials on the spot, and pass over all evidence.

Race was Sunday, he tweeted about it Tuesday so that's hardly a week. He'd already gone to UKAD by the time the Telegraph spoke to him (and I'm assuming they made contact).

"Flag down a steward" - on Paris-Roubaix? No-one is going to stop for a gesticulating fan.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8892 posts]
17th April 2014 - 13:00

33 Likes

I tend to agree with others who say this is just someone playing for publicity. He took pictures of a vial falling from a pocket, then didn't tell the authorities but proceeded to remove it from the scene and transport it across the channel before waiting a week and contacting a newspaper. I'm not saying events didn't happen how he says they did, but if his first priority was a proper investigation he went about it just about the worst possible way.

I like how he managed to get his job title and company name in there too. Nothing like a bit of free publicity.

posted by step-hent [711 posts]
17th April 2014 - 13:04

16 Likes

jaylamont wrote:
I don't want to add fuel to the fire, but magnesium tablets or any other non banned substance is unlikely to have the words "TEST PRODUCT" clearly labelled across the vial. Just saying.

That label looks pretty worn though, so I'd think the odds are good that whatever's in there now isn't what originally came in it.
I'd be more inclined to think someone's just found a handy container for their pills and kept hold of it.

posted by Chuck [458 posts]
17th April 2014 - 13:07

14 Likes

Missed opportunity here to blackmail the team/rider who dropped the vial! "Yes I'll gladly trade my evidence for one of your swish €8000 bikes..."

Mind you there are some teams I'd rather not play that game with!

posted by chokofingrz [370 posts]
17th April 2014 - 13:11

17 Likes

Maybe he did and got nowhere and that's why it took until Tuesday to tweet.

posted by Getafix [7 posts]
17th April 2014 - 13:30

6 Likes

Doesn't matter what it is, the rider involved can simply say that it was antacid to calm his stomach after taking gels/carbo bars all day and having his innards rattled around, then say that the spectator who has retrieved it has contaminated it with [insert whatever you want] and no doping agency would be able to prosecute.

I suspect he was probably a well-meaning enough chap but he just hasn't thought through the ramifications of going to the press with it. I mean, even on here, people are automatically assuming it must be doping so imagine how it would look to the normal punter on the street?

posted by crazy-legs [610 posts]
17th April 2014 - 13:31

15 Likes

The contents of the vial may prove to be perfectly legal but this is not good news for the image of cycling.

If the vial contents are above board then surely the team/rider involved can publicly step forward and tell us what was in the vial and it's purpose. If the vial is entirely innocent then the best action for the sport is to be transparent and open and about it.

As photographs exist of the rider dropping the vial then this is not going to end nicely......

posted by seanbolton [158 posts]
17th April 2014 - 13:56

13 Likes

If it was me, I'd have kept it with the photos as a souvenir.

posted by daddyELVIS [498 posts]
17th April 2014 - 14:01

15 Likes

seanbolton wrote:

If the vial contents are above board then surely the team/rider involved can publicly step forward and tell us what was in the vial and it's purpose. If the vial is entirely innocent then the best action for the sport is to be transparent and open and about it.

I don't think that would put it to bed- they can say what they like but people will still draw their own conclusions.

posted by Chuck [458 posts]
17th April 2014 - 14:06

9 Likes

bazzargh wrote:
It seems a bit daft that he didn't report it on the day (when the rider could have been tested) and dafter still that he seems to have taken this unknown substance back through UK customs?

You'd think someone working in a medical field/allied to medicine would know better.

The fact the tweet comes from a work/medicine based account does make it seem like publicity hunting. Time to see how well-oiled the machine at UKAD, UCI etc are.

posted by jstreetley [63 posts]
17th April 2014 - 14:29

6 Likes

I'm guessing it's a 'finish bottle' - crushed up pain killers and caffeine tablets, or a 'test product' with similar ingredients. Apparently pain killers in cycling is rampant. Some are legal and some aren't, but the subject is controversial. Taylor Phinney gave a good interview on the subject - google 'taylor phinney drugs' and you'll find it (a velonation article I think). BTW, I reckon Phinney is the cleanest rider in the peloton!

posted by daddyELVIS [498 posts]
17th April 2014 - 14:31

10 Likes

daddyELVIS wrote:
If it was me, I'd have kept it with the photos as a souvenir.

Especially if the person went on to become a tour contender, it's all about the long game Smile

posted by kitkat [259 posts]
17th April 2014 - 14:34

5 Likes

Would the writing usually be in English?

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [294 posts]
17th April 2014 - 14:55

4 Likes

jstreetley wrote:
bazzargh wrote:
It seems a bit daft that he didn't report it on the day (when the rider could have been tested) and dafter still that he seems to have taken this unknown substance back through UK customs?

You'd think someone working in a medical field/allied to medicine would know better.

The fact the tweet comes from a work/medicine based account does make it seem like publicity hunting. Time to see how well-oiled the machine at UKAD, UCI etc are.

Report it to whom on the day? Dude is on a holiday weekend abroad watching a bike race, he's probably too busy having fun or travelling to immediately start Googling UKAD and trying to figure out who to contact. Or where to drop the pill bottle off in France before getting the Eurostar home. Plus it was a Sunday.

Jeez.

posted by finbar [106 posts]
17th April 2014 - 15:33

18 Likes

Unlikely to be something illegal, a finish bottle is the most likely explanation. He's done the right thing and it's pleasing to see Cookson engaging directly.

Publicity hunting? FFS.... Yawn Rolling Eyes
I wonder how easy people think it would be to flag up something like this, during a race on foreign soil? If it was me I would have absolutely zero confidence that anything would happen as a result or me approaching a steward, gendarme or anyone else in a hi-vis tabard. Does anyone really think that Rider X is suddenly going to be marched off to a lab post-race just because a fan starts waving a plastic vial around? Seriously? At least this way there's a good chance of some testing being carried out. Yes, there are chain of custody issues that would make it impossible to instigate proceedings if it really is a banned substance but I'm sure the people in charge of the bio-passport would be very interested and Mr Crashy might find himself being visited out of competition more than he finds comfortable.

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [257 posts]
17th April 2014 - 15:41

26 Likes

What's to say the vial hasn't been tampered with after it was picked up?

posted by Andy G [24 posts]
17th April 2014 - 15:43

5 Likes

+1 for the Flying Scot's comment. Seems like a daft way to handle the 'issue', if indeed that's what it is.

mooseman's picture

posted by mooseman [69 posts]
17th April 2014 - 15:47

6 Likes

It's interesting the way people have turned this around on the chap. He seems to have tried to do the right thing. He spoke to soigneur who ignored him and then got in touch with British Cycling/UKAD. I don't know when he got involved with the press but it's not un-news worthy.

It will be interesting to find out what he has got there. But it is likely to be no more than pain killers.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1380 posts]
17th April 2014 - 19:30

8 Likes

I'm sure this will probably get more news column inches than the actual Paris-Roubaix got..

posted by JonnyWright [8 posts]
17th April 2014 - 21:04

5 Likes

Where? I don't think so. In the grand scheme of things we have a knife and no victim. If it proves to be something interesting once analysis is done then we have a murder.

This is not going to be steroids or EPO - the time frame for the effectiveness of these drugs is days not hours.

It could be an amphetamine, but the most useful of these is caffeine and it's not illegal.

Most likely it's ibuprofen or paracetamol.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1380 posts]
17th April 2014 - 23:02

4 Likes

This guy's the managing director of a veterinary equipment supplier. Not a medic/vet/nurse/technical expert. His company deal with equipment not meds. So why should he know better? And what member of the general public is going to go out on the basis of his so called publicity-hunting tweet and buy a pair of Olsen-Hegars from him as a result? (They're needle holders by the way......i'm a vet and wouldn't necessarily switch to using Thames Medical as a result of this tweet)

I don't know if Mr. Brampton did the right thing or the wrong thing but he did the best thing he could under the circumstances. If these are dodgy pills and UKAD confirm that and the rider is correctly identified then i hope they'd do a specific test to look for that substance or its masking agents. Might come to nothing but it would give any drug-taking rider something to think about. I, like everyone here, hope it's not a banned substance but anything which can be done to catch the cheats should be done.

Sam

posted by zagatosam [41 posts]
19th April 2014 - 12:51

3 Likes

IF these are banned drugs, i would suggest the rider can't be punished for THIS case, but i wouldn't be surprised that someone might be on the receiving end of a lot of attention from the vampires for a while.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1600 posts]
19th April 2014 - 14:13

2 Likes

Analysis has found these to be nothing more than M&Ms and Tic Tacs...

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/no-banned-drugs-in-paris-roubaix-vial-fo...

Him Up North's picture

posted by Him Up North [240 posts]
1st July 2014 - 21:37

0 Likes