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UK's cycling reputation 'in tatters'

Press Association logoPress Association 1/03/2017

Britain's reputation as a cycling powerhouse that wins clean is "in tatters", the head of a top UK parliamentary committee says.

Culture, media and sport select committee chairman Damian Collins was speaking after UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) boss Nicole Sapstead updated MPs on her agency's investigation of allegations of wrongdoing at British Cycling and Team Sky.

Sapstead said on Wednesday that UKAD still didn't know what was in a package delivered to Bradley Wiggins' doctor Richard Freeman at the end of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.

She said UKAD had spent 1000 man hours trying to find out if it contained legal decongestant Fluimucil, as Freeman claims, or banned corticosteroid Kenalog, as a tip-off in September alleges.

UKAD could not "ascertain" the package's contents because British Cycling had no record of Fluimucil, an unlicensed drug at the time, being ordered by staff.

Freeman has no record of what he gave Wiggins because he failed to follow team policy by sharing his notes, then his laptop was stolen on holiday in 2014.

Freeman was meant to appear before the panel but pulled out, saying he was unwell.

Collins said after the hearing: "The credibility of Team Sky and British Cycling is in tatters - they are in a terrible position.

"(British Cycling) seems very confused as to what drugs are being used by British Cycling and what are being used by Team Sky. The impression given is that a doctor like Dr Freeman has just been ordering drugs at will and no record is being kept of what he is doing with them."

Wiggins, who retired from the sport in December, told UKAD he was given Fluimucil at the end of the Tour de France warm-up race, but his representatives declined to comment after Sapstead's testimony.

The 2012 Tour de France champion and five-time Olympic gold medallist has been under intense scrutiny since it emerged he had been given special permission for injections of Kenalog before his three biggest races in 2011, 2012 and 2013, including before his Tour victory.

He and Team Sky have said these "therapeutic use exemptions" were granted under World Anti-Doping Agency rules to deal with pollen-related breathing difficulties.

British Cycling have admitted "serious failings in our record keeping at the time", but say their "medicines management processes have been reviewed" since 2011 and improvements have been made after advice from UKAD.

Team Sky have also responded to Sapstead's criticism but only to restate their confidence "there has been no wrongdoing" and their stance on being "a clean team".

"Any medical treatment, whatever its status, would only be given to a Team Sky rider if it was considered to be medically appropriate and justified," they said.

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