UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) has said that its investigation into the contents of the Jiffy bag delivered to Bradley Wiggins at the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné was hindered by British Cycling’s slow response to allegations of wrongdoing and by its poor medical record-keeping.
Ukad confirmed that British Cycling would not face charges on the matter in November, but made it clear at the time that this was because it had been unable to establish the contents of the package.
There were no records of what had been dispatched from the medical storeroom Team Sky shared with British Cycling and the doctor who took delivery of the package, Dr Richard Freeman, told investigators he had lost his records when his laptop was stolen on holiday. He then failed to talk to Ukad because of ill health.
The BBC now reports that Ukad chief executive, Nicole Sapstead, was hugely critical of the governing body in a letter sent by to her counterpart at British Cycling, Julie Harrington, in November.
Under the UK National Anti-Doping policy, British Cycling is obliged to report any suspicions or allegations of doping. However, Sapstead said that the governing body was slow to report allegations relating to the package and that contact was only made at Ukad’s instigation.
Damningly, the letter also states: “Contact by British Cycling with some members of staff at British Cycling prior to informing Ukad could have potentially compromised our investigation.”
Sapstead reasons: "Failure to inform Ukad at the time that individuals within British Cycling became aware of such suspicions or allegations meant that this story had already reached a number of individuals before Ukad was informed, and thus able to act. That only hindered our efforts.”
She goes on to outline some of the specific issues investigators faced as a result of British Cycling’s medical record-keeping.
"We found no formal processes or procedures in place to record the purchase, use, or disposal of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, ie a medical stock-taking system, except for invoices kept by the finance department.
"There was no process to record what products or supplies were stored by British Cycling at the velodrome or elsewhere, and what was checked in and out of the medical room on site.
"There were no records of pharmaceutical medical supply packages sent by British Cycling to teams competing at events at home or abroad.
"The medical room at the velodrome was chaotic and disorganised. There was no apparent filing system, and papers were just piled up in cupboards and filing cabinets.
"Electronic medical records were not kept... nor was there any back-up system. We found little if any evidence of supervision or executive oversight of the team doctors.”
Sapstead also highlighted issues regarding the blurred relationship between British Cycling and Team Sky.
"There are considerable periods of time in which it is impossible to ascertain if (some) staff were operating as members of British Cycling or Team Sky," she wrote.
In a statement, British Cycling said it "welcomed and accepted the recommendations made by Ukad in its letter sent to us on the conclusion of its investigation in November last year," before going on to highlight the consequent overhaul of its medical practices.
"British Cycling has made a number of significant changes to the provision of medical services to the Great Britain cycling team. All of the recommendations of a review commissioned in April 2017 have been implemented. This review was in response to initial findings by Ukad given to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in March 2017.
"We continue to partner and support Ukad in the important work it conducts to keep sport clean."