A medical supplier that sent a banned substance to the National Cycling Centre refused to co-operate with UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) or British Cycling’s own investigation. Oldham-based Fit 4 Sport Ltd supplied testosterone patches in 2011, but while it was claimed in March that they were sent in error, the firm did not respond when Ukad requested written proof.
Dr Steve Peters – who was head of medical at British Cycling and Team Sky at the time – said he and a British Cycling colleague were on site when the package arrived.
Using testosterone is banned at all times under the world anti-doping code and so Peters questioned Dr Richard Freeman who was responsible for ordering medical supplies.
Freeman said the supplier had sent the package by mistake and it was subsequently returned. Sportsmail reports that Freeman also requested written confirmation from the company that this was the case and then showed the email to Peters.
However, when British Cycling requested a paper trail, complete with delivery notes, the company refused to respond. It is understood that Ukad investigators were met with a similar lack of response.
Earlier this month, Ukad closed its investigation into the Jiffy bag delivered to Sir Bradley Wiggins at 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, saying its efforts were hampered by a lack of medical records at British Cycling. Freeman, who ordered that package, resigned from British Cycling last month because of ill health.
British Cycling said on Monday night that it would terminate its relationship with Fit 4 Sport. Chief executive Julie Harrington, explained: “As part of our own internal investigation we invited Dr Freeman and our national medical supplier, Fit 4 Sport, to contribute and we were disappointed we didn't get any co-operation. We will be reviewing our supply partner.”
It has been reported that Ukad and the General Medical Council (GMC) are both still looking at the delivery of the testosterone patches as part of ongoing investigations.
The news comes in the wake of an interview with Shane Sutton in the BBC documentary Britain's Cycling Superheroes: The Price of Success in which the Team Sky consultant and former technical director of British Cycling reflected on Wiggins controversial use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) by saying that "finding the gains might mean getting a TUE."
While Sutton followed that up by asserting that Team Sky had always operated with the rules, David Millar – appearing in the same documentary – expressed his belief that it had been “gaming the system.”
At least two British cyclists appear to agree with Millar. Paralympian Jody Cundy told The Guardian: “I don’t care who it is, if they are fiddling the system they are cheating, I can’t stand cheats. It annoys the hell out of me because you’re doing something to beat somebody without having to put in the same effort.
“So, whether it be GB riders or other nations, to see people who are working the system is disheartening. To know there are people that do that 100% but then have extra things going on in the background, because they’ve got a signed piece of paper saying they can take X, Y and Z and whatever drug. If that’s the attitude people are taking to medical things then it’s a good job he [Sutton] has gone.”
Katie Archibald, Olympic gold medallist in the Team Pursuit, hoped Sutton’s words had been misinterpreted: “That sounds outrageous and it is something that I struggle to believe has been true practice. I naively want to hope that there’s been some sort of manipulation or mistranslation. That’s completely against the ethics of the sport.”
She added: “Attaching a term like ‘marginal gains’ to that sort of practice is also quite distressing, because it’s almost a trademark British Cycling phrase, isn’t it? Certainly nobody in my squad would attach that practice to the phrase marginal gains.”