UCI president Brian Cookson has urged Team Sky to reveal the exact contents of a medical package delivered to them during the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné reported to have been destined for Sir Bradley Wiggins.
The appeal comes ahead of Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford, as well as then head coach Shane Sutton appearing before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee at the House of Commons next Monday.
British Cycling president Bob Howden and Dr George Gilbert, who is on the governing body’s board and chairs its Ethics Commission, are also due to appear at the oral evidence session which forms part of the committee’s investigation into doping in sport.
Speaking to The Times, Cookson, who was president of British Cycling until his election to the top post at the UCI in 2013, said he was unaware of the contents of the package, which was delivered to the Team Sky bus after the final stage of the race by former British Cycling coach Simon Cope, now sports director at Team Wiggins.
Cookson said he would like to see details of what it contained revealed at Monday’s session. “I hope so, I would hope that there is full disclosure to the select committee,” he told the Times.
The existence of the package was revealed in a Daily Mail article in October, shortly after computer hackers published details of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) granted to Wiggins for drugs to treat grass and pollen allergies ahead of the Tour de France in 2011 and 2012, and the Giro d’Italia in 2013.
According to The Times, sources within British Cycling insist the package did not contain the corticosteroid triamcinolone, banned due to its performance enhancing capabilities, but which Wiggins was permitted to use on medical grounds under those TUEs, the first of which was issued two and half weeks after he had won the 2011 Dauphiné.
The Daily Mail’s article was based on information provided by “a Team Sky insider,” and the timing of it, together with the earlier revelation that Wiggins had been granted a TUE the same month, have seen the 2012 Tour de France winner and Team Sky come under pressure to provide an explanation. Both insist there was no wrongdoing and that there were genuine medical grounds.
Cookson, who stood for the UCI presidency against Pat McQuaid on a platform that underlined his commitment to make the organisation more transparent and fight doping in the wake of the US Postal scandal, expressed surprise at the widespread media attention the issue has received and the calls for an explanation.
He said: “I am surprised that one particular package has been singled out and I don’t understand why that should be, unless there is someone who has leaked this presumably has some sort of reason to suspect that there is something in it that they would rather not go public.
“I don’t understand why there is a mystery about it, to be quite honest. One would imagine there is a record of this.”
Quizzed as to whether he himself knew what the package contained, Cookson, who in his role as British Cycling president at the time sat on Team Sky’s advisory board, said: “No, absolutely not, but I’m not surprised that packages are taken and delivered to teams from time to time, whether pedals, shoes, medical products, I’m sure that’s happening all the time with all the teams because they are always on the road.”
Besides the parliamentary investigation, UK Anti-Doping is also investigating both the issue of TUEs and the package delivered to Team Sky.
Cookson said the TUEs were issued according to the rules then in force, which at the time required one doctor to sign them, since changed to require three signatures.
But he added: “We shouldn’t be surprised when elite-level sportsmen and women and their teams push the rules to the limit and hopefully they will not go through the limit.
“Perhaps this Wiggins case was a case of that and I wait to see what UK Anti-Doping have to say, they are looking at this.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.