'Never again' says British Cycling, as Coe also under fire in parliamentary doping report
Cycling - 05 Mar 2018
British Cycling has vowed to ensure that failures including “blurred boundaries” between the sport’s national governing body and the UK-based professional cycling team, Team Sky, “never happen again.”
The statement follows the publication of a report by a UK parliamentary select committee that found that the team and Bradley Wiggins, its star rider ahead of the 2012 Tour de France, which he won, “crossed an ethical line” by using banned drugs allowed under anti-doping rules to enhance performance instead of for medical reasons, under the so-called ‘therapeutic use exemption’ system.
In the statement, Julie Harrington, British Cycling’s chief executive, said: “We share the Committee’s concerns with regard to the use of glucocorticoids and Tramadol. Our position is clear: medical treatment of any kind should only be used to address clinical need and never to enhance performance. We remain committed to working with the anti-doping agencies and the Union Cycliste Internationale to develop policy and regulations to support this principle.
“The Committee is right that the use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions should be subject to scrutiny and constant review and we welcome the work of the UCI, which has introduced improved governance of the administration of TUEs and note that, in the most recently published figures, the number of TUEs issued worldwide by the UCI totalled 16 in 2016.”
The report, ‘Combatting Doping in Sport’, claimed that Team Sky used the anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone to prepare Wiggins for the race, saying: “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 possibly other riders supporting him, for the Tour de France. The purpose of this was not to treat medical need, 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 drug during the race.
“This does not constitute a violation of the World Anti-Doping Agency code, but it does cross the ethical line that [team principal] David Brailsford says he himself drew for Team Sky. In this case, and contrary to the testimony of David Brailsford in front of the committee, 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 need.”
Team Sky said that it “strongly refutes” the report’s “serious claim that medication has been used by the team to enhance performance,” with Wiggins adding: “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 drug was used without medical need.”
The committee said that it received “confidential material from a well-placed and respected source” about Team Sky’s medical policy between 2011 and 2013, which claimed that Wiggins and a small group of riders “were all using corticosteroids out of competition to lean down in preparation for the major races that season.
“This same source also states that Bradley Wiggins was using these drugs beyond the requirement for any TUE.”
However, Team Sky lashed out at the report’s reliance on the source, saying: “We are surprised and disappointed that the committee has chosen to present an anonymous and potentially malicious claim in this way, without presenting any evidence or giving us an opportunity to respond.
“This is unfair both to the team and to the riders in question.”
In her statement Harrington said: “The Committee’s investigation focused on a time when the relationship between British Cycling and Team Sky operated with blurred boundaries between the two organisations. Today there are clear boundaries and distinctions between us: no one is simultaneously employed by British Cycling and Team Sky; and we each have our own practices in place for managing athlete records. Never again will we allow a situation to develop whereby our independence as the national governing body is called into question because of our relationship with a professional team.”
• The report also claimed that Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, gave “misleading answers” about doping in Russian athletics, while the committee said that it was “shocked” that Mo Farah, Great Britain’s four-times Olympic champion, received an injection of the legal supplement L-carnitine before the 2014 London Marathon that was not recorded on Farah’s medical records.
Coe told a select committee in December 2015 that he was “not aware” of specific allegations of corruption in Russian athletics before they were made in a German TV documentary in December 2014, but the report said that “it stretched credibility to believe” that Coe was not aware “at least in general terms” of allegations that the IAAF’s own ethics commission had already been asked to investigate.