Peter Keen, Sir Dave Brailsford’s predecessor as performance director at British Cycling, has warned that innocent cyclists could find their reputations tarnished due to the events that have led to UK Anti-Doping launching an investigation into alleged “wrong-doing” at the Great Britain national team and at Team Sky.
Speaking in a special edition of BBC Radio 5 Live’s BeSpoke show entitled Skyfall? on Thursday evening that addressed issues including the controversial Therapeutic Use Exemptions granted to Sir Bradley Wiggins, Keen, who left the organisation in 2003, also said that had strong reservations about sports teams employing doctors directly.
Keen, who spent eight years as director of performance at UK Sport after leaving British Cycling, said: “The need now for conclusive explanations and evidence is greater than ever. It’s collateral damage.
“When I look at people like Jason Kenny or Dame Sarah Storey, these are stories that are so special because they’re about ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.
“I have never sensed anything about them that says that what we have seen isn’t the absolute real deal.
“Where there’s confusion and doubt about a very high-level performance sport, linked to a programme they are a part of, that’s my greatest fear,” he added.
Keen, who pioneered the use of National Lottery money that has turned Great Britain’s track cyclists into a dominant force at the past three Olympic Games, said that while there was no evidence of anti-doping rules being broken, he wanted a “better explanation” from Brailsford over the TUEs that allowed Wiggins to use triamcinolone before key races between 2011 and 2013.
He also called for clarification on the contents of a medical package delivered by former British Cycling employee Simon Cope to Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, the contents reportedly destined for Wiggins.
On the subject of doctors directly engaged by sports teams or governing bodies, Keen said: “A lot of sport organisations, professional sports and increasingly governing bodies will employ a doctor to look after the health and wellbeing of players and athletes.
“I am increasingly of the view that is probably not a good thing.
“They probably are going to be able to make a better judgment about where those fine lines now are if they are actually accountable to their peers, from either hospitals, or specialist sports institute environments.”
The radio programme was aired as it emerged that British Cycling CEO Ian Drake will leave the organisation next April. Under his guidance, it has grown membership and British riders have achieved unprecedented success on the track and the road.
This year, however, the organisation has been rocked by events including Shane Sutton’s resignation following allegations of bullying and discrimination – the subject of an ongoing internal inquiry as well as one ordered by UK Sport – Lizzie Deignan’s missed anti-doping controls, and more recently the Fancy Bears hacking group’s publication of TUE certificates issued to, besides Wiggins, other leading riders including Chris Froome.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.