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Team Sky hit back at anti-doping and medical record-keeping allegations

Eight-page document sent to UKAD and Select Committee seeks to clarify issues raised by latest hearing

Sir Dave Brailsford and Team Sky have hit back at allegations regarding their anti-doping procedures and medical record keeping in a strongly-worded eight-page document, also sent to UKAD and Damian Collins MP, the chairman of the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee.

Team Sky were criticised by UKAD CEO Nicole Sapstead when she appeared before MPs last week, citing a lack of record keeping as one of the biggest obstacles to her agency’s investigation into an alleged anti-doping violation.

Centred on the delivery of a medical package to Dr Richard Freeman at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, administered to race winner Bradley Wiggins, no records of the medication exist after Freeman’s laptop was stolen in 2014.

Sapstead said the lack of record keeping raised questions about Team Sky’s stance of clean riding and transparency, but – while accepting mistakes were made in the past regarding record keeping – Sky have hit back against ‘a number of factual inaccuracies’.

Sir Dave Brailsford has hit back at ‘factual inaccuracies’ (pic: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com)

In a covering letter to the committee chairman, Brailsford wrote: “Self-evidently, the events of recent months have highlighted areas where mistakes were made by Team Sky.

“Some members of staff did not comply fully with the policies and procedures that existed at that time. Regrettably, those mistakes mean that we have not been able to provide the complete set of records that we should have around the specific race relevant to UKAD’s investigation.

“We accept full responsibility for this. However, many of the subsequent assumptions and assertions about the way Team Sky operates have been inaccurate or extended to implications that are simply untrue.

“There is a fundamental difference between process failures and wrongdoing. Our commitment to anti-doping has been a core principle of Team Sky since its inception. Our mission is to race and win clean, and we have done so for eight years.”

The document, published by Team Sky and sent to both UKAD and MPs, highlights the changes Team Sky have made to their ‘anti-doping and medical governance processes’ in the five-and-a-half years since, and clarified three chief issues raised by the Select Committee hearings and subsequent media reports.

First and foremost, Team Sky have reiterated the package delivered to the Criterium du Dauphine contained the decongestant Fluimucil and no anti-doping rules were violated.

“There has been considerable speculation as to why it was necessary to transport the Fluimucil all the way from Manchester, when it has been claimed that is widely available in pharmacies in France. This is a misunderstanding,” the document reads.

It is explained the specific quantity of Fluimucil requested – a 3ml, 10 per cent ampoule form for use in a nebuliser – is not available for sale in France and, furthermore, due to Dr Freeman not having prescription rights in the country, he would have been unable to buy it anyway.

“As a result, Team Sky typically ordered Fluimucil from a pharmacy in Munich where Dr Freeman does have prescription rights, and where the required form of Fluimucil is licensed for sale,” it continues. “Any surplus Fluimucil was then stored in Manchester.”

Dr Richard Freeman did not have pharmacy rights in France, hence the need to have Fluimucil delivered from Manchester at the Dauphine (pic – Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com)

On the issue of record-keeping, Team Sky have also hit back at allegations against them stating Dr Freeman not using their shared Dropbox system in 2011 was not indicative of poor record-keeping across the board.

It is explained that Dr Freeman ‘struggled with the new system’, preferring to use his own electronic notes and ‘sharing information by telephone as appropriate’ until the appointment of a medical student as his administrative assistant in 2012.

“While we accept there are no medical records for this particular rider at this particular race, itis wrong to draw the conclusion that Team Sky has no medical records or that our medical team as a whole have been deficient in their record keeping,” the statement reads.

“On the contrary, it is an area we take very seriously and have sought to strengthen and improve over time.”

It concludes: “While the failure of Dr Freeman to upload his notes from the 2011 Dauphiné to the shared Dropbox system was a regrettable mistake, the team has since put in place comprehensive measures to ensure that such a situation should not occur again.”

Those measures, including annual reviews of medical policies, standardised medical ordering and software and the appointment of a medical assistant are all outlined at the end of the document.

No records exist relating to Bradley Wiggins’ medical treatment at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine but Team Sky admit they’ve improved policies since that ‘regrettable mistake’ (pic: Sirotti)

Finally, the team have also responded to allegations published in the aftermath of the most recent Select Committee as to the bulk ordering of the corticosteroid Triamcinolone – which Wiggins had a TUE to use before the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

The UKAD investigation had centred on the allegation it was the corticosteroid – banned in competition – which was delivered to Team Sky at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine and administered to Wiggins.

“During UKAD’s appearance before the Select Committee, the subject of the purchase, storage and use of triamcinolone was raised. Team Sky has provided contextual information to UKAD around the ordering of triamcinolone as part of its investigation,” the statement continues.

“It has been subsequently reported in the media that as many as 70 ampoules of triamcinolone were ordered by Team Sky in 2011 alone. This is incorrect.

“Our records indicate that 55 ampoules of triamcinolone were ordered by Team Sky over a four-year period between 2010 and 2013. Only a small proportion of this was administered to Team Sky riders.

Wiggins had TUEs for triamcinolone prior to the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and 2013 Giro d’Italia (pic: Sirotti)

“According to Dr Freeman, the majority was used in his private practice and to treat Team Sky and British Cycling staff.

“It is common in professional cycling for team doctors to provide medical services to staff who require advice or treatment, and this is part of the formal job description for all of our doctors.

“While it is not possible for Team Sky to confirm why and when triamcinolone was administered to non-riders (as we would, rightly, not have access to those private medical records), with regard to riders we would only ever allow triamcinolone to be provided as a legitimate and justified medical treatment in accordance with the applicable anti-doping rules.”

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