The UK Anti-Doping Agency have closed their investigation into the Team Sky jiffy bag, conceding that they have been unable to establish the contents of the package because they were ‘hampered by a lack of accurate medical records being available at British Cycling’.
But agency investigators have passed their evidence to the General Medical Council in the knowledge that they have regulatory powers that could yet enable them to access private medical records based on legislation they have as a statutory body.
UKAD have essentially stepped aside so that the GMC can advance their own investigation, with UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead stating that it was ‘a serious concern’ that there was no record of the what was in the medical package for Sir Bradley Wiggins.
UKAD have closed investigation into contents of a jiffy bag delivered to Dr Richard Freeman
Wiggins has said he has no recollection of what the package contained, despite claims that it was medication because he had fallen ill during a race he actually won. The claims of illness were not, however, supported by evidence in his own autobiography.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, UKAD said it ‘does not intend to issue any anti-doping charges in relation to the package’ but would reopen the investigation if more evidence came to light.
Wiggins, Team Sky and British Cycling have consistently denied any wrongdoing throughout, and in response to UKAD closing the investigation, Team Sky issued a statement of their own. It read: ‘We are pleased that UK Anti-Doping have concluded their investigation and that they will not be taking any further action.
‘We have always maintained that there was no wrongdoing and we have co-operated fully with UK Anti-Doping over the last year. Since our inception as a new pro cycling team in 2010 we have continually strengthened our systems and processes so they best support our strong commitment to anti-doping.’
Stern letters have been sent to both Team Sky and British Cycling and a statement from the GMC is anticipated. One major source of frustration for UKAD, and a major hindrance to the investigation, has been their inability to interview Dr Richard Freeman since an explosive parliamentary hearing in March, with the former doctor for both Team Sky and British Cycling citing ill-health as his reason for not cooperating.
Last month Freeman resigned from his post at British Cycling with the governing body stating that they hoped he would, at some stage, be able to provide more evidence to UKAD.
Freeman ordered the medical package that was delivered for Wiggins at the end of the Criterium du Dauphine on June 12, 2011, and while he has refuted the allegation that the package contained the banned corticosteroid, Triamcinolone – and instead contained a decongestant called Fluimucil – he has never been able to provide proof of that because of his own poor record keeping.
When Sportsmail put the allegations about the package to Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford, he claimed the courier who delivered the package – former British Cycling women’s coach Simon Cope – had travelled to La Toussuire to meet British rider Emma Pooley. It turned out Pooley was in fact racing in Spain that day. Brailsford then said the medication could not have been administered to Wiggins on the team bus after the race because the bus had left before Wiggins had completed his podium, media and anti-doping commitments. A video with Wiggins at the bus after the race proved otherwise.
The contents of jiffy bag delivered for Bradley Wiggins (above) remain unclear
WHAT IS FLUIMUCIL?
Fluimucil is an effective mucolytic which helps to get rid of sticky and thick mucus that is obstructing the airway, resulting in coughing.
Fluimucil contains the active ingredient N-acetylcysteine, which is a Glutathione precursor and has direct action on the mucus structure.
As Sapstead revealed to MPs in March, Freeman not only failed to properly use the Team Sky ‘drop-box’ system to download medical records but claimed to have lost the laptop that contained those medical records on a holiday in Greece. Freeman told them it had been stolen.
It would be wrong, therefore, to conclude that either Wiggins, Freeman, Team Sky or British Cycling have been exonerated as a result of Wednesday’s statement. But an agency with such limited powers have hit a road block after a 14-month investigation into a package first revealed by Sportsmail.
It is hoped that the GMC will be able to make more progress because of their ability to force open issues of patient confidentiality. At the same time it once again raises the question of whether national anti-doping agencies should have more powers to investigate. This investigation has again made them look toothless, given that investigators even had to inform British Cycling of their intention to visit their medical room when the investigation first started.
UKAD needed to close their investigation so that the GMC could progress with theirs. If GMC uncover evidence that is pertinent to UKAD the anti-doping agency would expect it to be passed to them. As UKAD’s statement says: ‘UKAD may revisit matters if new and material information were to come to light.’
In a statement issued on Wednesday morning UKAD said: ‘UKAD’s extensive investigation into the package (sometimes referred to as ‘the Jiffy Bag’) delivered to Team Sky during the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine has concluded.
Nicole Sapstead, UKAD chief executive, says that no anti-doping charges will be handed out
‘In order to protect the integrity of its investigations and its investigatory processes, UKAD does not – as a matter of policy – comment publicly in relation to its investigations. However, in light of the significant public interest in this particular investigation, which has previously been discussed by the Parliamentary Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, UKAD can confirm that this investigation has now been drawn to a close.
‘Despite very significant effort on UKAD’s part, UKAD remains unable to confirm or refute the account that the package delivered to Team Sky contained Fluimicil. It follows that UKAD does not intend to issue any anti-doping charges in relation to the package.
‘As with all investigations, UKAD may revisit matters if new and material information were to come to light. Otherwise however, UKAD has now exhausted all the investigative possibilities open to it at this stage, and it is therefore not actively pursuing any further lines of enquiry in relation to the package.
‘UKAD pursued a number of lines of enquiry arising from its investigation into the package. In doing so, UKAD became aware of information that it considered to be of possible interest to the General Medical Council (GMC). UKAD has shared that information with the GMC, and will continue to liaise with the GMC as appropriate in relation to that information. UKAD will not comment further in relation to this.’
A GMC spokesperson said: ‘UKAD have made us aware of these concerns and we are looking into these. However, we are not able to comment further on this matter’.
Freeman, pictured with GB cyclist Mark Cavendish, stated that the package contained Fluimucil, rather than the banned Triamcinolone, but he has not been able to provide proof
Sportsmail understands that the evidence passed to them by UKAD is not related to the jiffy bag but concerns Freeman more directly.
Sapstead said it was ‘a serious concern’ that their investigation was ‘hampered by a lack of accurate medical records’. She also cited a further complication caused by the crossover between Team Sky and British Cycling. Team Sky continue to be based at the national cycling centre in Manchester.
She said: ‘I can confirm that UKAD does not intend to issue any anti-doping charges as a result of the investigation into the package.
‘As with all UKAD investigations, our work has been thorough and extensive, and I can reassure the public that we treat every credible allegation with the utmost seriousness.
‘Our investigation was hampered by a lack of accurate medical records being available at British Cycling. This is a serious concern. As part of their conditions to receive public funding from UK Sport and other Home Country Sports Councils, all sports governing bodies must comply with the UK National Anti-Doping Policy. In this case the matter was further complicated by the cross over between personnel at British Cycling and Team Sky.
‘We have written to British Cycling and a copy of this letter has also been sent to UK Sport and Sport England. We have also separately written to Team Sky.
‘Finally, we have referred some information to the GMC, and will cooperate with the GMC as necessary in respect of that information.’
Simon Cope (pictured) was the man who flew to Geneva to deliver the package to Freeman
WHAT IS TRIAMCINOLONE?
Triamcinolone is a ‘synthetic glucocortocoid’, which can be administered orally, by injection, by inhalation, or as an oitment or cream.
It is typically used to treat eczema, arthritis, asthma, and allergies among other inflictions.
It is prohibited in-competition when administered in certain ways.
In a more detailed summary UKAD further explained that their investigation was ‘particularly challenging in light of a lack of contemporaneous medical records’.
‘This aspect of the investigation serves as a reminder to all those responsible for medical record-keeping within sport to ensure that medical record policies are fit for purpose, and that such policies are systematically followed,’ the summary continued.
‘On 23 September 2016 UKAD started an investigation following information we had received that a possible anti-doping rule violation may have been committed by Team Sky at the Criterium du Dauphine in June 2011.
‘The possible anti-doping rule violation in question concerned the alleged contents of a package that was delivered to Dr Richard Freeman in France. Information was received by UKAD that that package contained a substance called triamcinolone. Triamcinolone is a glucocorticoid that is prohibited in-competition when administered in certain ways.
‘Throughout the course of its investigation UKAD has interviewed 37 individuals, including current and former employees of British Cycling and Team Sky (riders, medical professionals and other staff), and been provided with and reviewed a voluminous amount of documentation.
‘Insofar as UKAD has been able to establish facts, we have drawn the following conclusions:
- At some point during the Criterium du Dauphine, a request was made by Dr Freeman (one of Team Sky’s doctors at that time) for a package to be delivered to him.
- Shane Sutton arranged for Simon Cope (then a coach with British Cycling) to pick up that package and to bring it over to France.
- Mr Cope said that the package was left for him at the British Cycling offices and left on a desk sealed in a Jiffy bag. There was a post-it note on the package that said ‘To Simon, for Dr Richard Freeman’.
- Mr Cope travelled to Manchester to pick up that package and then, at some later point, he travelled to Gatwick on 11 June. Then he took a flight out to Geneva, hired a car and took it to the end stage of the Criterium du Dauphine on 12 June and passed the sealed Jiffy bag over to Dr Freeman.
British Cycling chief executive officer Julie Harrington has thanked UKAD for their hard work
TEAM SKY STATEMENT
UK Anti-Doping has today confirmed that it does not intend to bring forward any anti-doping charges in relation to its investigation into issues around the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine. This investigation has now been brought to a close.
We are pleased that UK Anti-Doping have concluded their investigation and that they will not be taking any further action.
We have always maintained that there was no wrongdoing and we have co-operated fully with UK Anti-Doping over the last year.
Since our inception as a new pro cycling team in 2010 we have continually strengthened our systems and processes so they best support our strong commitment to anti-doping.
‘Dr Freeman stated that the package contained Fluimucil, which is not a prohibited substance under applicable anti-doping rules. Wiggins’ recollection was that he was treated with Fluimucil on the evening of 12 June 2011. He said he did not know what was in the package.
‘Put simply, due to the lack of contemporaneous evidence, UKAD has been unable to definitively confirm the contents of the package. The significant likelihood is that it is now impossible to do so.’
Other parts of the investigation remain open, however. As yet UKAD have been unable to establish why products containing testosterone were delivered to the national cycling centre.
In the wake of UKAD’s statement confirming the end of their investigation, British Cycling chief executive officer Julie Harrington said: ‘I would like to thank Nicole Sapstead and her team at UKAD for the diligence and determination they have shown in investigating this matter.
‘Their work on this, and throughout sport, is essential if we are to earn and retain the trust of athletes and fans.
‘UKAD’s findings represent an organisation and culture that, despite delivering on the world stage, did not meet the high standards that British Cycling today holds itself to. We note that UKAD have referred information arising from their investigation to the General Medical Council and we offer them our wholehearted cooperation.
Sir Dave Brailsford (left) sits alongside Wiggins in the Team Sky bus back in 2013
‘British Cycling have implemented a number of significant changes to the management of our medical services to the Great Britain Cycling Team following a review instigated in March by chair Jonathan Browning, shortly after his appointment. This was an external review led by Dr Rod Jaques of the English Institute of Sport and all of his recommendations have been accepted by British Cycling. We welcome UKAD’s support for these changes.
‘The association between British Cycling and Team Sky has been a positive force for cycling in this country. However we accept that the relationship between British Cycling and Team Sky developed rapidly and as a result, at times, resulted in the blurring of the boundaries between the two. This led to some failings in the way that processes and people were managed.
‘Today, based on our learning together there are clear boundaries and distinctions between our two organisations: no one is simultaneously employed by British Cycling and Team Sky; and we each have our own practices in place for managing athlete records.
‘My focus now is on ensuring that we can give athletes and the public the reassurance they need to believe in our ability to win clean on the biggest global stages because of the systems and controls we have put in place. We are intent on ensuring that the integrity of our record keeping is never called into question again.’