British members of parliament have been left scratching their heads after previous claims by Team Sky that a mystery medical delivery to Bradley Wiggins in 2011 have been unsubstantiated.
Team Principal Dave Brailsford and Wiggins’ coach Shane Sutton were amongst those in front of MPs on December 19, with the duo asked to give their explanation as to what was delivered to Wiggins by British Cycling employee Simon Cope.
Brailsford said the delivery was innocent, comprising the legal decongestant Fluimucil. He said it was taken by Cope from British Cycling’s medical stores and brought hundreds of miles to Wiggins, despite the same product being available in stores close to the final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
MPs requested proof that this was indeed the case, but British Cycling have been unable to provide any.
Further questions have been raised by the timing involved, with the product apparently being sourced four days before its eventual delivery, thus calling into question Sky’s claims that Wiggins was sick.
Damian Collins MP is the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee which questioned Brailsford and Sutton.
“The more we discover about the package, the more new questions seem to be thrown up,” he told the Daily Mail.
“We now know from Simon Cope’s expense claims that the request to take the package must have been made some time in advance, and that he travelled from southern England up to Manchester to collect it, and then went back to fly to France from London Gatwick.
“If this medicine was needed urgently it would have been much quicker to buy it in France. We also know from last week’s hearing that the medication was administered as soon as it was delivered.
“It also seems that British Cycling themselves do not know categorically what was in the package. They say they understand it to be Fluimucil but do not explain why they understand that it was.
“We need to be sure that British Cycling do keep proper records of what goes in and out of their medical stores.”
According to the Times, Cope’s records show that he booked the first leg of his trip – a return train from Eastbourne to Manchester – on June 8 2011. He then went to Manchester, collected the package, flew to Geneva on June 12, drove to La Touissure and gave the delivery to Team Sky’s then-doctor Richard Freeman, who administered it to Wiggins.
The total cost of the trip was just under £600, while the product could be bought locally for eight euro.
British Cycling’s President Bob Howden was also questioned on the same day as Brailsford and Sutton. He told the committee then that records are kept for all withdrawals from the federation’s medical stores and that he would hand them over. However he has now claimed that the documents are ‘locked down by UK Anti-Doping investigators.”
Collins told the BBC’s Today programme that he was concerned.
“What we hoped we might get is a paper trail – it should be really simple. But clearly that doesn’t exist. It seems difficult to get precise records about what was in this package, why it was ordered – the detail you would want to know.
“Good practice in a case like this should be that these sort of records are kept, and therefore it’s very easy to identify what’s been couriered, what’s been requested.”
Wiggins announced his retirement on Wednesday, despite recently indicating he would continue competing into 2017.