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24-year-old from Yorkshire rode for UCI WorldTour outfit in 2013 and 2014

A former Team Sky cyclist has revealed that he injected himself with vitamins, in contravention of the UCI’s no-needles policy, as well as using the controversial but legal drug Tramadol, both without the team’s knowledge.

Josh Edmondson, who rode for the UCI WorldTour team in 2013 and 2014, made the revelation to BBC sports editor, Dan Roan.

The 24-year-old from Yorkshire, who rode for AN Post-Chain Reaction in 2015 before joining last NFTO last season, says he is speaking to anti-doping authorities.

He has also accused Team Sky of a “cover-up,” something its former head of medicine, Dr Steve Peters, denies.

Edmondson said that he injected himself with a cocktail of vitamins "two or three times a week" in 2014 as he tried to get a place in the team’s line-up for the Vuelta a Espana, which would have been his debut Grand Tour.

While he was racing at the Tour of Poland in July of that year, a team mate found the vitamins and equipment he was using to inject himself in his room, took a photo, and went to team management to raise concerns.

Peters acknowledged that Team Sky had been alerted, but did not report what had happened because of fears that the young rider "could be pushed over the edge," insisting that his welfare came first.

The vitamins themselves are not banned, but the method of administration via injection is, following the UCI’s no-needles policy, introduced in 2011.

Edmondson told the BBC: "In 2014 I was under a lot of pressure, not just from the team but from myself.

"You want to renew your contract for one thing, and for me the bigger thing was not letting anyone down – this team had given me a chance by signing me and a bigger chance by letting me go to a Grand Tour.”

He said he would inject a mixture of vitamins “two or three times a week maybe.”

He added: "It is a very daunting thing to be doing, especially as I was sat in a room in a foreign country alone at night. It's just a very surreal thing you do. It's not something you take lightly. You're doing it out of necessity really."

He spoke of the moment he realised his secret was out when a housemate, a member of Team Sky, found what Peters described as "a needle and some vials" and took a photo of them and alerted the team.

Edmondson said he returned from a race “and noticed all the vitamins which had been hidden in my room were on top of this chest of drawers – and I realised I'd been caught out.”

"At that point I was panic-stricken. I'd never known anything like it. You just go weak and I had no idea what to do."

He admitted that he “broke down” when Peters contacted him. “I was crying, I was in shock. And he said, 'somebody has sent us some photos of this intravenous equipment and the vitamins'."

However, the BBC says that the incident was not reported by Team Sky, because Edmondson told Peters he had not used the paraphernalia found in his room.

Peters said: “He fell apart at the seams quite dramatically. A number of things I asked him during that interview really alarmed me.”

Peters: "The welfare of the athlete was number one"

"I was now in a position where I can say the welfare of the athlete was number one,” added Peters, who spoke of how Edmondson had told him that he hadn’t injected himself with the vitamins because he didn’t know how to.

"This didn't quite ring true to me,” said Peters, who suspects that Edmondson may have been ill at the time. “I felt this is very odd from what I've experienced in the past when I've been involved with anti-doping issues. So I said to the team: 'I want to stop here’.”

Team Sky, who sought legal advice on the issue, did not report it to the relevant authorities, a decision Peters still supports.

“I suppose if I'm looking at safety issues I did think there was a really big risk this lad would be pushed over the edge,” he said. “I stand by my decision. I think I'd definitely have told them if I thought this young man was trying to cheat, but I don't think he was doing that. I think it was a panic reaction.”

He added: "We did it on good faith and decided on two counts. One, we didn't think he'd violated any rules and second and, most important, he was not in a good place."

Edmondson however insists that he told Team Sky management that he had injected himself and accused them of a “cover-up” – a claim that Peters refuted.

"It's not a cover-up,” said Peters. “Once you use that word you are saying there was an intent behind us to conceal and that was never the case."

Tramadol left rider feeling "absolutely battered"

Edmondson also talked about the effects of the painkiller Tramadol, which is not banned but which many teams avoid because of its potential side-effects, with the young rider saying it left him feeling “absolutely battered” and that withdrawing from it made me feel depressed … I felt like someone had thrown me down some stairs for a few days.”

He added: "The dangerous thing about it is you don't know when you're coming to your limit. It's not a performance-enhancing drug, it doesn't make you any better, you're not getting any more from your body, you are just pushing yourself a bit harder.

"When you're young and you are facing some kind of depression and it might be linked to some sort of drug you are definitely in denial about what that problem is - I just saw it as the stress of doing that job and training hard. I wouldn't have ever acknowledged that Tramadol was doing that.

"It was a serious problem for me especially towards the end of 2014. I didn't leave the house for two months. It doesn't get much worse than that."

He accepts that he was “naïve” not to seek help from the team about his problems, saying: "It just seemed at the time that if I'd gone to them and told them, 'I'm having this too much, I might be abusing it a little', I didn't think they would help me, just see it as a negative thing.

Team Sky "confident" in its rider welfare procedures

Team Sky said in a statement: "We are confident we have mechanisms in place which encourage a rider to bring any issues they may be experiencing to staff in confidence.

"We are also satisfied that staff are equipped and able to raise any concerns they may have regarding a rider's welfare, and for the team to offer support," it added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

35 comments

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The Hoggs [3496 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

If you read his interview and that of Dr Peters it actually makes good reading. No doubt the Sky haters will have another field day but it shows the pressure these riders are under which is quite sad.

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thx1138 [68 posts] 10 months ago
5 likes

It explains why they got shot of him. It's worth watching the whole of both interviews. Especially the Steve Peters one. Probably going to add to the tabloid pressure on the team but they don't appear to have done too much wrong in this instance.

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rnick [145 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

It's hard to know what to believe now...by his own admission Josh deliberately deceived his team but then the team, upon discovering / suspecting the issue may have covered it up.   Do the UCI have a mechanism for confidentially reporting "concerns", so as to ensure the rider's well being is not jeopordised?  On a different tack, Josh cites the pressure..given the financial rewards in cycling are minimal one can only wonder what is going on in the better remunerated pursuits?

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Grahamd [820 posts] 10 months ago
6 likes

Agendas and objectives. What is Josh looking to gain from this? 

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brooksby [2781 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

And so it begins...

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Bob Wheeler CX [104 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

a young fit lad all lycra'd up who could prob smash most ppl here clean

was it worth it?

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Leviathan [2902 posts] 10 months ago
10 likes

B-grade pro rider confesses to cheating that his team did not know about, but still sticks the boot into the team because that is cool right now despite no evidence they did anything wrong in this case. What does he gain from adding to the fog of controversy apart from an interview fee or two?

The worst thing is that the stories won't ever go away because we can't have any resolution. If they didn't actually brake any rules then there is nothing but suspicion, but that is good for the headlines any time someone passes comment. Team Sky's crime was to enter the grey zone, now they will linger forever in a state of moral turpitude like [insertcountrynamehere.]

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beezus fufoon [973 posts] 10 months ago
3 likes
Stumps wrote:

If you read his interview and that of Dr Peters it actually makes good reading. No doubt the Sky haters will have another field day but it shows the pressure these riders are under which is quite sad.

True - also with the fact that he went to 3 teams in as many years - the doctor says he was concerned for the lad's mental state - so it's not just a case of passing the buck here.

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SNS1938 [125 posts] 10 months ago
4 likes
Leviathan wrote:

... Team Sky's crime was to enter the grey zone, now they will linger forever in a state of moral turpitude like [insertcountrynamehere.]

I think it was to enter the grey zone whilst going around saying how they were cleaner than clean. If they'd not made such a big deal of being so clean, we wouldnt be as concerned. Other teams have had riders busted (although normally development riders etc), and the stories have blown over in a couple of weeks. 

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Trickytree1984 [51 posts] 10 months ago
10 likes

You know what. I really dislike the media at the moment. Just look at your headline. It's the same on BBC. If you just read the headline (and 90% of people on the BBC will only scan past the headline ) it reads as Sky cheated. Actually, he was rouge and they sacked him.

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Yorkshire wallet [1627 posts] 10 months ago
2 likes

Does it even matter if you inject vitamins? Who cares about the delivery method?

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davel [2041 posts] 10 months ago
10 likes
Trickytree1984 wrote:

he was rouge

Lanterne, Monsieur?

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davel [2041 posts] 10 months ago
5 likes
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

Does it even matter if you inject vitamins? Who cares about the delivery method?

Well, the UCI do, or claim to, for the last few years. Which means Sky, Wiggins et al do too. No needles, guv.

Some of the posters up there have it: this is all a storm in a teacup to any other team. But the media's got the bit between their teeth now and it's difficult to see them letting go...

The issue isn't one of them being British, or successful (though both of those attributes do make them a bigger target). The crux is that their whole shtick has been CLEAN - no grey, all black-and-white, the reason for the Death Star and secrecy and team tactics is that it's all needed to be successful CLEAN - nothing nefarious to see here.

Their reputation benefitted from the unrealistic standards they set, and now it's getting badly bruised. Repeatedly. Tricky one to clean up, that - parallels between their reputational damage and that of BC in that you don't just need to fix things: you need to fix things in a way that appears to Joe Public like you're fixing things.

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HarrogateSpa [505 posts] 10 months ago
3 likes

Sky may well have done things wrong in many instances, but the only person who comes out of this looking like a prat is Josh Edmondson. 'I've messed up and it's Team Sky's fault' about sums it up.

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alan loves froome [272 posts] 10 months ago
3 likes
Leviathan wrote:

B-grade pro rider confesses to cheating that his team did not know about, but still sticks the boot into the team because that is cool right now despite no evidence they did anything wrong in this case. What does he gain from adding to the fog of controversy apart from an interview fee or two?

The worst thing is that the stories won't ever go away because we can't have any resolution. If they didn't actually brake any rules then there is nothing but suspicion, but that is good for the headlines any time someone passes comment. Team Sky's crime was to enter the grey zone, now they will linger forever in a state of moral turpitude like [insertcountrynamehere.]

 

On the money. Good post.

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alan loves froome [272 posts] 10 months ago
5 likes
Trickytree1984 wrote:

You know what. I really dislike the media at the moment. Just look at your headline. It's the same on BBC. If you just read the headline (and 90% of people on the BBC will only scan past the headline ) it reads as Sky cheated. Actually, he was rouge and they sacked him.

 

Another good post. This website used to provide great articles but in the last year or so it's just become a sea of click bait revenue generating tosh. But I guess it's the same everywhere now. I wonder why road.cc hasn't won the 'Best Cycling Website, Cycling Media Awards' since 2014...

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turboprannet [296 posts] 10 months ago
5 likes

The vitamins aren't illegal, the breaking of no-needles was - fine. Sky hid it, loads of teams would do the same.

What I am seeing is, yet again, no discussion about the fact they were banging Tramadol out like skittles to a point where a rider ended up dependant on them and suffering from depression. Asides from the TUE and jiffy bag stuff this is another instance of over-prescription of inappropriate painkillers to riders to ride through limits. In this case it's been detrimental to a riders mental health.

Like the Jess Varnish stuff there's a level of gatekeeping going on here too - Edmonson's a "B grade pro" is he? It doesn't matter he's suffered then does it. Just like Varnish his opinion doesn't count because you don't think the performance is up to it. Do these riders need to win a race before people will listen?

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Jackson [393 posts] 10 months ago
2 likes
derek n clive wrote:
Trickytree1984 wrote:

You know what. I really dislike the media at the moment. Just look at your headline. It's the same on BBC. If you just read the headline (and 90% of people on the BBC will only scan past the headline ) it reads as Sky cheated. Actually, he was rouge and they sacked him.

 

Another good post. This website used to provide great articles but in the last year or so it's just become a sea of click bait revenue generating tosh. But I guess it's the same everywhere now. I wonder why road.cc hasn't won the 'Best Cycling Website, Cycling Media Awards' since 2014...

What's the BBC and other media supposed to do then? Uncritically rehash press releases and act as the official state cheerleader?

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Huw Watkins [158 posts] 10 months ago
5 likes
turboprannet wrote:

What I am seeing is, yet again, no discussion about the fact they were banging Tramadol out like skittles to a point where a rider ended up dependant on them and suffering from depression. A

 

He said he bought his own Tramadol from a doctor outside the team

 

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paradyzer [18 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

"he injected himself with vitamins>>as well as using the controversial but legal drug Tramadol, both without the team’s knowledge."

"He has also accused Team Sky of a “cover-up,”"

Someone's losing ground here... 

Despite all controversies with Sky at the moment, this guy seriously aches for everyone to associate him with Yakety Sax.

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monkeytrousers [130 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
Trickytree1984 wrote:

You know what. I really dislike the media at the moment. Just look at your headline. It's the same on BBC. If you just read the headline (and 90% of people on the BBC will only scan past the headline ) it reads as Sky cheated. Actually, he was rouge and they sacked him.

This Roan bloke appears to be on a mission against cycling at the moment. Sky in particular of course.

I've got two theories for this.

One - The BBC don't actually show any cycling and this is the only way they can get any footage of the sport. 

Two - Roan didn't get the job at Sky Sports.

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dottigirl [810 posts] 10 months ago
3 likes
monkeytrousers wrote:
Trickytree1984 wrote:

You know what. I really dislike the media at the moment. Just look at your headline. It's the same on BBC. If you just read the headline (and 90% of people on the BBC will only scan past the headline ) it reads as Sky cheated. Actually, he was rouge and they sacked him.

This Roan bloke appears to be on a mission against cycling at the moment. Sky in particular of course.

I've got two theories for this.

One - The BBC don't actually show any cycling and this is the only way they can get any footage of the sport. 

Two - Roan didn't get the job at Sky Sports.

Can I add to the conspiracy theory?

Apart from the Raleigh thing the other night, all BBC coverage of cycling is negative. In reporting, documentaries, in soaps, dramas - everywhere.  

Roan is the same guy responsible for doorstopping Wiggins, which was fucking horrible journalism, and against their own guidelines. (Yes, he wasn't the reporter, but it was his story.)

It would take a sea change in the BBC from up high for this to be improved. 

And I bet every 'journalist' out there is after ex-Sky riders to spill the beans. If this is the very worst they can get..?

 

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Jimmy Ray Will [824 posts] 10 months ago
5 likes

My first thoughts were to look at Mr Edmonson in a negative light, jumping on the band wagon, sticking the boot in, when arguably Sky went out of their way to make life easier / better for him.

But then I thought it through... chances are that Mr Roan has approached every rider ever to leave SKY looking for stories... Edmonson was simply the one skint enough to stick his neck above the parapit.  I feel for the chap... the sport has not given him an easy run. 

I actually think Sky come out of this one well... The fact that the guys team mate saw fit to photograph and report the vitamins to management should demonstrate that the doping cultire within the team is actually fairly good.

 

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Rich_cb [529 posts] 10 months ago
1 like
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

My first thoughts were to look at Mr Edmonson in a negative light, jumping on the band wagon, sticking the boot in, when arguably Sky went out of their way to make life easier / better for him.

But then I thought it through... chances are that Mr Roan has approached every rider ever to leave SKY looking for stories... Edmonson was simply the one skint enough to stick his neck above the parapit.  I feel for the chap... the sport has not given him an easy run. 

I actually think Sky come out of this one well... The fact that the guys team mate saw fit to photograph and report the vitamins to management should demonstrate that the doping cultire within the team is actually fairly good.

 

This is exactly what I thought, if other riders are prepared to confront potential dopers and are confident to report them to their management it suggests that the days of the 'Omerta' are over.

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Must be Mad [628 posts] 10 months ago
2 likes
Quote:

I actually think Sky come out of this one well... The fact that the guys team mate saw fit to photograph and report the vitamins to management should demonstrate that the doping cultire within the team is actually fairly good.

If Josh decided to approch the press on his own and open up about this story then fair play to him. His experiences and decisions are worth discussing, and he seems to be taking responsibility and not bitching about his team.

 

 

But, the machiavellian conspiracy side of me read the story and wondered if perhaps team sky had asked (paid?) Josh to approch the press with the story  at this time? While not completely positive, 'mudding the waters' is perhaps good for the team at the moment? A story where the team look to be dealing with a difficult situation responsibly - where the abuse is 'Vitimins' rather then the 'hard dugs' of EPO and such like - and where it is Steve Peters in the spotlight rather than Bralisford or Freeman etc.

 

 

Avatar
davel [2041 posts] 10 months ago
2 likes
dottigirl wrote:
monkeytrousers wrote:
Trickytree1984 wrote:

You know what. I really dislike the media at the moment. Just look at your headline. It's the same on BBC. If you just read the headline (and 90% of people on the BBC will only scan past the headline ) it reads as Sky cheated. Actually, he was rouge and they sacked him.

This Roan bloke appears to be on a mission against cycling at the moment. Sky in particular of course.

I've got two theories for this.

One - The BBC don't actually show any cycling and this is the only way they can get any footage of the sport. 

Two - Roan didn't get the job at Sky Sports.

Can I add to the conspiracy theory?

Apart from the Raleigh thing the other night, all BBC coverage of cycling is negative. In reporting, documentaries, in soaps, dramas - everywhere.  

Roan is the same guy responsible for doorstopping Wiggins, which was fucking horrible journalism, and against their own guidelines. (Yes, he wasn't the reporter, but it was his story.)

It would take a sea change in the BBC from up high for this to be improved. 

And I bet every 'journalist' out there is after ex-Sky riders to spill the beans. If this is the very worst they can get..?

 

It's no better on the radio: the recent BBC radio programmes that have featured anything to do with utility cycling have been 'balanced' by white van/LTDA-type mouth breathers spouting shit about insurance and registration.

To the last points about the positives - that occurred to me, too - good points about the different climate. I'd expect, unfortunately, it to be lost in the fog of 'dodginess'. The BBC have got the knives out, for some reason.

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Simmo72 [672 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

Still waiting for a story BBC.

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SingleSpeed [401 posts] 10 months ago
1 like
Simmo72 wrote:

Still waiting for a story BBC.

 

 

Different from the piece above which has simply been copied and pasted from the BBC?

Eeh back in the day working in Editorial, Journos used to write their own copy.

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Yorkshire wallet [1627 posts] 10 months ago
2 likes

The BBC website is utter garbage at the moment. There are hardly any names to articles, some of it is word for word with other news sites, the news focus seems to be anti-trump, women's and transgender 'magazine' articles, it's almost like Huffington Post or something. One day half the top 10 stories linked to terribly written Newsbeat articles. 

At least the BBC tv news is still fairly factual without political leaning too obviously thrown at it but the website seems to going further and further out to infotainment land. 

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Jimmy Ray Will [824 posts] 10 months ago
1 like
SuperG wrote:

Why would you do at this aged 24 when you are hoping for life as  a professional cyclist??

Will any team ever trust him!

 

His career was over before he spoke up. 

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