British Cycling coach insists he did not know contents of Wiggins package

The British Cycling coach Simon Cope said: Hand on heart I do not know what was in there as it emerged he had been summoned to appear before a select committee along with the former Team Sky doctor

Simon Cope, the British Cycling coach at the centre of the controversy over a mystery package delivered to Team Skys Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2011, has insisted hand on heart that he had no notion what was in it, as he was summoned to appear before a Parliamentary select committee next month.

Also appearing on 22 February will be the UK Anti-Doping chief executive, Nicole Sapstead, and Dr Richard Freeman, the former Team Sky physician who now works for British Cycling. Freeman was said by the former technological director Shane Sutton to have given the contents of the package to Wiggins at the end of the Critrium du Dauphin six years ago.

When Sir Dave Brailsford, the Team Sky principal, seemed before the commission in December he said Dr Freeman had told him the package contained the decongestant Fluimucil. Cope, who was the womens road race squad manager in 2011, told Cycling News that he did not know what was in the package, which he transported in June that year from Manchester to France.

He said: Hand on heart, hand on my kids hearts, I do not know what was in there. Its not for me to ask. People ask Why didnt you ?, but why would I ask? I trust who I work for. Theres never been any inkling of anything untoward so why would you question it. Of course Ill run. I dont want to go because I dont find what I can add. I dont know what was in there and also theres some fact I wasnt the womens coach-and-four. The coach and the manager are two different things. I was the womens road administrator. But yes, I would go.

Damian Collins, the chair of the culture, media and sport select committee that also this month heard from the Olympic gold medallist Nicole Cooke, who heavily criticised Team Sky and British Cycling, said there was considerable public interest in the Ukad investigation.

The committee has been told by both British Cycling and Team Sky that they have furnished all the information they have relating to this investigation to Ukad. However, we need to know if they have received documentary evidence which confirms what was in the package that was delivered by Simon Cope to Team Sky, said Collins.

Without this evidence, I am concerned about how it is possible for the anti-doping rules to be policed in an appropriate manner, if it is not possible to review the records of medications prescribed to riders by the team doctors.

In a statement, the committee also said that Sapstead had confirmed she would be able to discuss the investigation and would have no objection to Cope and Freeman also answering its questions. In addition to Ukads investigation into the mystery package, a UK Sport investigation into allegations of bullying and sexism is also due to report imminently.

Cope, Freeman and Sapstead were called to appear as the US current affairs programme 60 Minute aired accusations about the use of motors in the peloton during the 2015 Tour de France. Sundays TV programme, aired by CBS, featured Istvan Varjas, a Hungarian mechanic, who claimed that on the day before the 2015 Tour de France he had delivered motorised motorcycles to a locked storage room in Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French Riviera. He did not reveal who had requested the bikes. The mechanic told the programme makers that a motorised bicycle could be identified because the modified rear wheel would be 800 g heavier than a regular one.

CBS did not detail how it had obtained information but claimed that Team Skys time-trial bicycles during the Tour were approximately 800 g heavier than those used by other teams.

A Team Sky spokesman told the programme that during a time-trial stage bikes might be heavier to allow for better aerodynamic performance but it is understood that no specific accusations were put to the team. The allegations of motorised doping are not new and Brailsford spoke about them last year.

Finding an engine in a motorcycle is a pretty simple thing to do in this day and age, Brailsford said. The technology used to beam the[ TV] pictures up to the satellite is a lot more complex, and used on a day-to-day basis, than seeing a motor in a motorcycle. You only require the right tech to find it. Youve either got an engine in your motorcycle or you havent.

[ Chris Froomes] bike has been tested more than everyone elses, we get tested every day and we actually had an email from the UCI saying thank you for being the most cooperative squad out of everybody when it comes to bike checks and mechanical checking, Brailsford added. If someone is stupid enough come here[ to the Tour de France] with a motor in their motorcycle for sure they will get caught.

Team Sky were second in the team time-trial at the 2015 Tour de France and after the stage, their bikes were checked by the International Cycling Union( UCI) for motors none were found.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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