Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky accused in damning narcotics report

Report indicates Team Sky riders took performance-enhancing medications to win Tour de France

An explosive parliamentary report has suggested Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins used performance-enhancing medications under the guise of treating a legitimate medical condition in order to win the 2012 Tour de France.

The long-awaited report by the digital, culture, media and athletic select committee is a potential death knell for Team Sky. It calls into question exactly how they became one of the most successful outfits in British sporting history and draws a number of injury conclusions.

The most stark is that Team Sky abused the anti-doping system to allow Wiggins, and possibly support riders, to take powerful corticosteroids to prepare them for the Tour de France. It also suggests their director, Sir David Brailsford, must take responsibility for abandoning an ethos of” winning clean”, which was the genesis of Team Sky, as a hunger for victory took over.

The MPs who led the inquiry also suggest that many people find Team Sky’s story about an infamous jiffy container delivery to Wiggins at a race in 2011 to be entirely implausible. The inquiry claims it was privy to farther evidence that the package contained the corticosteroid triamcinolone and not the decongestant fluimucil, as was claimed by Team Sky. If that were ever proved to be true, and triamcinolone was administered to Wiggins at that time, it would amount to an anti-doping rule violation.

Q& A

What now for Team Sky?

Where has such reports come from? It is published by the digital, culture, media and sport select committee which opened an inquiry in August 2015.

What has it found? The most damning findings concern Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky. For the first time it is publicly alleged that Wiggins, and possibly supporting riders, were given the usually banned triamcinolone not to treat a legitimate medical condition, as Team Sky claim, but to help with preparations for the 2012 Tour de France. Wiggins” strongly refutes the claim any medication was used without medical want “.

What are the other revelations? The inquiry claims a witness came forward with farther evidence that a Jiffy bag delivered to Wiggins at a race in 2011 contained the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone and not the legal decongestant Fluimucil, as claimed by Team Sky. Wiggins did not have a therapeutic utilize exemption at that time.

Does it entailed the UK Anti-Doping investigation will be reopened Not at the moment. Ukad says it is not following any new lines of investigation following the closure of the investigation last November.

What does it mean for Team Sky? It is another blow to the reputation of the most successful road cycling squad in the world. They are under siege after Chris Froome failed a drug test last year- he denies wrongdoing.

What does it mean for Wiggins? The Tour winner and Olympic champion is retired from cycling but it could have a damaging effects on his legacy. Martha Kelner

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As it is, such reports found that Team Sky abused the system of therapeutic utilize exemptions( TUEs ), in effect a doctor’s note letting a banned substance to be used for the therapy of a legitimate medical condition.

” From the evidence that has been received by the committee, we believe that this powerful corticosteroid[ triamcinolone] was being used to prepare Bradley Wiggins, and maybe other riders supporting him, for the Tour de France ,” such reports reads.” The purpose of this was not to treat medical require, but to improve his power-to-weight ratio ahead of the race. The application for the TUE for the triamcinolone for Bradley Wiggins, ahead of the 2012 Tour de France, also meant that he benefited from the performance-enhancing properties of this medication during the race.

” This does not constitute a violation of the World Anti-Doping Agency code, but it does cross the ethical line that David Brailsford says he himself describe for Team Sky. In this case, and contrary to the testimony of David Brailsford in front of the committee on conferences, we believe that drugs were being used by Team Sky, within the Wada rules, to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical want .”

Wiggins said:” I find it so sad that accusations can be made, where people can be accused of things they have never done which are then regarded as facts. I strongly refute the claim that any narcotic was used without medical need.I hope to have my say in the next few days and put to my side across .”

The report focuses on inconsistencies in accounts of what was contained in a jiffy container package delivered to Wiggins and Team Sky during the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011, which is the object of a UK Anti-Doping( Ukad) investigation. Ukad shut the investigation last November after deeming it impossible to determine whether the contents were the legal decongestant fluimucil or the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone, or something else. Dr Richard Freeman, the former Team Sky medic who ordered the package, refused to comment when asked by the DCMS committee inquiry what it was.

” To many people, the whole story of the package seems implausible, to say the least ,” the report reads.” Further info indicated to members of the committee claimed that the product that was requested to be sent out to the event was triamcinolone .”

Q& A

Triamcinolone

What is it ? A powerful corticosteroid used to treat inflammation of many kinds, from skin conditions such as severe eczema to inflammatory arthritis, pollen allergies- the use for which Bradley Wiggins obtained permission- and musculo-skeletal traumata. Most usually marketed for the purposes of the trade name Kenalog, it is taken as a nasal spraying, cream or by injection. How can it be abused in sport ? Among its side-effects, triamcinolone is anecdotally reported to quickly and significantly reduce body fat mass, to affect the nervous system by devoting a feeling of euphoria and to lessen muscle ache. All explain the depict for athletes. The reformed doper David Millar said it was the most potent substance he used. Is it new ? The abuse of cortisone in cycling goes back at the least to the 1970 s. Lance Armstrong tested positive for triamcinolone during the 1999 Tour de France but got off after a doctor’s note was concocted after the test.

Why is it not banned? Some ways of taking triamcinolone are legal( for instance skin ointment ), some are banned in competition- systemic roads such as injections- and within a certain time window unless a therapeutic use exemption is provided demonstrating a medical need.

What are anti-doping authorities doing to counter it ?

There are constant calls for it to be banned and Wada has been considering such a move. The Movement for Credible Cycling has a strict policy on cortisone use and testing, maintaining riders “inactive” if they show signs they may have employed corticosteroids but membership is voluntary. William Fotheringham

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The select committee inquiry states it asked Freeman to comment on the contents of the package. Rather than corroborate what Brailsford told the committee- that the package contained” merely fluimucil”- Freeman said he was unable to comment, on legal advice.

The original Ukad investigation criticised the lack of medical record kept by Team Sky, particularly by Freeman, who also worked at British Cycling until his abdication last year. Freeman maintained Wiggins’ medical record on a laptop that was stolen in Greece in 2014, and no back-up transcript was ever made. The DCMS select committee report said Brailsford, Team Sky’s general manager, must take responsibility for this.

The report states:” How can David Brailsford guarantees to his squad is performing to his requirements if he does not know and cannot tell what drugs the doctors are giving the riders? David Brailsford must take responsibility for these failures, the regime under which Team Sky riders developed and competed and the damaging scepticism about the legitimacy of his team’s performance and accomplishments .”

David
David Brailsford’s ethos for Team Sky was’ winning clean ‘. Photograph: Will Oliver/ AFP

It even hints at a possible cover-up.” Despite the facts of the case that it was Team Sky policy for medical records of riders to be uploaded to a shared Dropbox cloud calculating storage site, this was never done ,” the report reads,” nor, in the three years from 2011 to 2014, did anyone at Team Sky check this, and insist that the records were uploaded. This is even more lacking in credibility given that these were not just the records for a junior rider, but those of the lead cyclist in the team .”

Wiggins’s use of triamcinolone is already known. A leak by the Russian hackers Fancy Bears in September 2016 disclosed he had three intramuscular injections of triamcinolone before big grand tours including the Tour de France in 2012.

The DCMS committee inquiry, which began in September 2015, heard from Brailsford and Shane Sutton, a former head coach at both Team Sky and British Cycling in December 2016. Simon Cope, a former British Cycling employee who drove the jiffy suitcase package from the velodrome in Manchester to south-east France, also dedicated evidence.

Brailsford could not be reached for remark. In a statement, Team Sky said: The report details again areas in the past where we have already to be recognised that the Team fell short. We take full responsibility for mistakes that were constructed. We wrote to the committee in March 2017 setting out in detail the steps we took in subsequent years to set them right, including, for example, the strengthening of our medical record keeping.

” However, the report also constructs the serious claim that drug has been used by the team to enhance performance. We strongly refute this. The report also includes an accusation of widespread triamcinolone use by Team Sky riders ahead of the 2012 Tour de France. Again, we strongly refute this allegation. We are astonished and disappointed that the committee has chosen to present an anonymous and potentially malicious claim in this way, without presenting any evidence or devoting us an opportunity to respond. This is unfair both to the team and to the riders in question.

” We take our responsibility to the athletic seriously. We are committed to creating an environment at Team Sky where riders can perform to the best of their capabilities, and do it clean .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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