The story behind the story: The journalist who exposed Team Sky

Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.

Jump To Comments

Usually the “Story behind the story” series on CyclingTips focuses on articles that we ourselves worked upon. In this case, we are looking at the origins of an important story that surfaced in September 2016, and which has had a long and far-reaching effect on professional cycling.

The report, written by Daily Mail chief sports reporter Matt Lawton, quoted an anonymous source who said that a mystery package was transported from Britain, via Switzerland, to France by Simon Cope, a British Cycling employee at the time.

It was brought to La Toussuire, the finish location of the final stage of the Critérium Dauphiné on June 12, 2011. Bradley Wiggins had just been crowned the winner of that race and, as would later emerge, was administered the contents of the package by Richard Freeman, who was then a Team Sky doctor.

Coming on the heels of a leak by Russian hackers Fancy Bears, which showed that Wiggins had received injections of the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone on June 29, 2011 – as well as in June 2012 and April 2013 – the story was a huge one. The controversy over it was exacerbated when the team gave at least two untrue statements in seeking to explain the delivery.

A British parliamentary inquiry chaired by the MP Damian Collins was launched, as was a UK Anti Doping (UKAD) investigation. The latter ended last week with UKAD saying that because of a lack of medical records, allegedly lost when Freeman’s laptop was stolen on holiday, there was no way to either prove or disprove Team Sky’s claim that the package contained the legal decongestant Flumicil. Freeman has repeatedly refused to testify, citing ill health.

The parliamentary inquiry will deliver its final report in the coming weeks. Meanwhile the General Medical Council, the public body that maintains the official register of medical practitioners within the United Kingdom, is looking into the matter and could potentially uncover more information.

In the interview that follows, Lawton details how his story came about, the mistruths he was told by a panicking Team Sky, the range of emotions he felt as relationships were forever changed, his assessment of Wiggins’ so-called exoneration statement last week, and the direction he feels this story may go in the future.

CyclingTips: Could we start by going through how the story came about?

Matt Lawton: How it started was the source for the information contacted me on the back of the Fancy Bears’ stuff, two or three weeks before the article was finally published.

Can you explain how the team reacted when you first approached them?

I think it was a Thursday when I sent emails to British Cycling, Team Sky, and Bradley’s representatives at XIX Entertainment.

There was then an intervention on the Saturday from another cycling contact, prompted actually by my phone call. I was trying to get an idea of how it worked after a race. I was trying to build a picture from somebody involved in professional cycling. I’ve been to races, you’ve been to races, I was trying to get a picture of how things break down at the end of a race, in terms of a team bus and all that sort of stuff.

The person I contacted was someone I trusted. I gave them some insight into what I was looking into. That then promptly them to… let’s just say they wanted to believe that there was nothing suspicious, so they then brokered a meeting between myself and Brailsford for the following week.

At the same time that person spoke to Simon Cope. On that Saturday I got a phone call back from the intermediary, basically saying that ‘the story is wrong. Simon Cope wasn’t there to deliver a package, he was there to see Emma Pooley. She was there in France.’

At that time I had a good relationship with Brad. I thought I had an okay relationship with Sky. It wasn’t the closest relationship with Brailsford, but I thought it was okay. I had been out on a training camp in January and followed them too on the Tour.

I thought, ‘oh God, I’ve dropped an almighty bollock here. If I’ve fired off these emails already and the whole story is a load of nonsense, if Simon Cope wasn’t there with a package, but to see Emma Pooley, I have probably torched some decent relationships.’

I put the phone down. I just thought to myself, ‘I’ll see if I can establish if Emma Pooley was there and why she was there. If there was a women’s race on the same day, or whatever.’

Luckily Emma Pooley is organised enough to have her own website and keeps all her race results there. And there it was, showing that she raced that day in Spain. So I went back to the intermediary and said, ‘Simon Cope is bullshitting you, because Emma Pooley was in Spain.’

I then heard from someone else that the Sky version of events was indeed that Simon Cope was there to see Emma Pooley. By this time I was thinking, ‘blimey, now someone else is telling me this is what they are saying, and yet I already know this is not true.’

What happened then?

The next day, a few of us went the National Cycling Centre to see Brailsford and to talk about the TUEs. He did this press conference. Then I saw Brailsford very briefly in the café there. I said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow.’ He said, ‘yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow.’

So none of that was discussed right then. Instead, we met for coffee the following morning. It was quite friendly. Actually, I always found him pretty friendly… even now. He then hit me with the Emma Pooley alibi.

I let him say it a couple of times, then I told him that Emma Pooley had actually been in Spain.

We then talked around the subject, some of which I have written about. We had a meeting for a couple of hours. I left and I got in the car. Then he rang me when I was in the car. He said that he had now spoken to somebody, that he actually didn’t think the bus was still there when Brad had finished the race.

That person he spoke to said that he was pretty sure the bus had left. Brailsford said was going to come back to me on it. He was going to get a tachograph from the bus and he was going to get testimonies from the staff.

So, once again I’m thinking if he proved that the bus had gone, this story once again is a crock of shit because I was told that they [Wiggins and Freeman] were at the back of the bus doing whatever.

It meant I was nervous once again. I’m thinking, ‘well, we’ll see what he comes up with.’

He rang me again when I was in the office. He said, ‘right, I’ve nailed it. I’ve spoken to the driver. The driver actually remembers being really pissed off that it was Brad’s biggest win on the road in his career, but he never got a chance to congratulate him. He remembers how vividly he was upset that he never got the chance. That he had to drive away with the rest of the riders and take them to the airport, while Brad was still doing his podium and dope testing and media stuff after winning the race.

‘I’ve also got Rob Ellingworth, Tim Kerrison…they are going to give me statements that they remember driving him up in the Dormobile [camper van] and, likewise, the bus had gone.’

I thought to myself, ‘ah, Emma Pooley might have been in Spain, but this story is screwed if he can prove this.’

So what happened next?

Well, I was still on the phone to him. I was sitting at my laptop and frantically looking around on the internet, not expecting to find anything. I put into YouTube, ‘June 12 2011, La Toussuire.’ I’m still talking to him, and I’m suddenly looking at this video. I can see [journalist] Lionel Birnie, it’s an interview with Brad, and underneath it it says, ‘June 12th 2011, after Wiggins has won the Dauphine….’ Basically a telephone video.

This is like the journalism gods have just sent this down the internet to me [laughs]. It is like they have put it at the top of my search list. I am still talking to Brailsford on the phone, but I haven’t actually verified it is La Toussuire. So I don’t say it to him on the phone. I am not 100 percent certain that I have now exposed the next alibi as a load of nonsense.

Matt Lawton also broke the news about Lizzie Armitstead’s missed tests, a story which won him the Sports Journalism award at the 2016 Press Gazette British Journalism Awards.

But I put the phone down and I could see the name of the ski shop behind in the video. So I google the ski shop. It is hardly great sleuthing journalism… I just googled the name of that ski shop and La Toussuire, and there it was. I thought, ‘wow, it is La Toussuire. It is.’

So I thought, there we go. At that point, I thought, ‘you know what, I’m not going to tell you that you have screwed up again. You have kind of used up all your lives with me, really.’

But at the same time, just to recap, at the end of that conversation, we were actually standing out on the street when we met. There was that kind of final plea – ‘if you didn’t run the story, is there anything else we could do?’

I sort of said, ‘what do you mean by that?’

He was obviously bright enough not to say… I don’t know what he was implying.

But I think you have written in the paper that you took that as the offer of another story in place of that one…

Yes, the offer of another story. He touched on something earlier in the conversation about a possible other story about another team, or something.

So after I’d realised that Emma Pooley wasn’t right and the bus hadn’t left and this ridiculous attempt to put me off the scent, I just thought, ‘right, that’s it. I feel like people have been dishonest with me here. That’s it. The next you are going to hear about this is when I am actually ready to publish this story.’

Obviously you then make the calls again and put the calls back to people. You know what these stories are like. You don’t just run them the next day, there was more work to be done. The final piece of the jigsaw before we published was that UKAD were going to look at it.

‘At the end of the day I was just trying to get the truth’

In the lead up to a big story, journalists are focussed on getting the facts right and also choosing the right approach to present the information. For Lawton, and others doing such investigative pieces, the final publication draws from the leads and tip-offs and research that gathers the meat of the story, then depends on storytelling to deliver the message. There is excitement, but also other emotions too. How will the story be received? What impact will it have? What changes could it bring about? And, also, how should it be followed up?

As a journalist, how did you feel when you got this initial information? Were you nervous when you were about to contact the team, and how did your emotions change when you were being told, ‘yeah, that’s wrong. Simon Cope was with Emma Pooley?’

Well, I don’t shy away from stories, I never have done. When I first got the call, I was pretty disappointed. I actually have a lot of time for Wiggins, I like Wiggins. I had some good fun exchanges with him in Rio a few months earlier.

I think if you read my pieces from the Rio Olympics, I think it is quite obvious I admired him as a sportsman and quite liked him as a bloke. I’ve covered World Cup finals, Olympic Games, and Champions’ League finals from 1999, Manchester United, to Liverpool in 2005. But I would have ranked that team pursuit in Rio as one of the best things I’d ever seen. One of the most exhilarating things I have ever seen. It was such a great race. I love racing. My background is in athletics. I am a runner and I just love races. And it was one of the great races. The fact that quartet were in the red, as it were… as you know, it is green and red on the scoreboard to show who is up and who is down. They were in the red until, I don’t know, two laps to go.

It was a sensational race. And it was brilliant to see him win a fifth gold medal. It was just an awesome performance, given just how good the Australians had been in the previous couple of years. It was fantastic.

So, yeah, there was a sinking feeling when I read about the TUEs. I think I had the same view that David Walsh had and other people had… about those TUEs, and the timing of them. It looked cynical. So when I got this phone call, I was thinking ‘Christ.’ You don’t take it lightly.

This is arguably our greatest athlete. I would have argued the case, pre-Fancy Bears, that Bradley Wiggins was the greatest athlete that Britain’s ever produced. From his range of abilities, from being the Olympic champion over four kilometres to being the best in the world over 3,500 kilometres.

We’ve never had an athlete like it. I know Mo Farah has it and amazing range, being a British record holder from 1500 metres up to 10,000. But Wiggins is, I think, the greatest endurance athlete we have ever produced and one of the greatest endurance athletes we have ever seen. That is how I felt pre-Fancy Bears.

So you don’t take a story like that on lightly. You take it very seriously.

In terms of nerves, I don’t get nervous or afraid when I’m meeting Dave Brailsford in a coffee shop, Not at all. But I would say there are heightened senses of anxiety and pressure in terms of what you are dealing with because you can’t make a mistake. You can’t mess up. You’ve got to get it right.

There is a professional pressure, I would say, a professional anxiety. Not a fear. I mean, I had to ring up Crystal Palace two hours before they were about to appoint Malky Mackay as their manager and tell them I had a load of text messages and emails that didn’t portray him in a particularly good light.

The guy I rang was the director of football, who was the recipient and sender of some of the messages. That’s a phone call where there might be a slight shake in the fingers when you are pushing the buttons, I don’t know. But it’s the job, isn’t it?

You mentioned the nervousness of the feeling that the story was screwed. But when you found out that the explanations about Cope and the team bus were false, did you get a ‘gotcha’ feeling?

A gotcha feeling, yes, when you suddenly get the evidence that proved otherwise. What was so daft about it was how easy that bit was. How easy it was to refute their version of events. It was on the internet. I didn’t have to get witness statements or find new contacts on it or anything. I just looked on the internet. To be honest, that was the bit that still surprises me.

How was Brailsford’s demeanour? Did he appear nervous when you were coming at him with this information, and then when you were refuting what he was saying?

Yes, he was unsettled. He was as stressed as I have ever seen him look.

There were suggestions that the team could go away if he was forced to resign. Was that said to you?

Yes. He said this could be the end of… He said to me, ‘what are you trying to do here? Are you trying to finish Team Sky?’

So I guess you have got that pressure as well. There is a kind of emotional burden there.

Yes, I suppose so. Yeah. But I didn’t feel that burden massively. You don’t take that lightly, but I didn’t feel a massive burden. At the end of the day I was just trying to get the truth. I was just trying to find out what was in that package.

I’d been given a version of events what was in the package. It simply started with asking questions. The fact of the matter is the moment I get that phone call, I’ve got to act on it. If I don’t act on it, and the person who rings me either thinks, ‘fuck Matt Lawton, if he won’t act on this I am going somewhere else. And then that other journalist gets told I didn’t act on it, because I love Brad Wiggins or whatever else they choose to conclude, then I’m done. My credibility is done.

And at the same time, if I don’t do that, they might write a book in ten years and tell that story. ‘I did tell Matt Lawton, but he didn’t act on it.’ You have to act on it.

So all I did at the start was send three emails. I wrote, ‘I have been told about a package. Can you respond to these questions?’

So were you told it was triamcinolone?

I think Nicole Sapstead [UK Anti Doping’s CEO] said the allegation was triamcinolone. But I never wrote triamcinolone, no. I couldn’t.

But in retrospect, now that she has said it, are you happy to say that is indeed what you were told?

[Pauses]… The allegation was triamcinolone.

And I guess the significance would be that this would been before Bradley Wiggins got a TUE to use it.

It would have been pre-TUE. The issue would have been that if it happened on the day [the final stage of the Dauphiné], it would have been in competition [under WADA rules], because it wasn’t out of competition until midnight.

So, if the allegation was correct, he would have needed a TUE. And that is what I was trying to ascertain.

‘I had no desire to bring Bradley Wiggins down’

Once the Daily Mail hit publish on the original article about the mysterious package sent in 2011, everything changed irrevocably. Reputations and relationships would never be the same again.

How has this changed your impression of Brailsford?

[Exhales, long pause]. Well, I used to hold him in incredibly high regard. In terms of being impressed by people when you meet them, in the sort of career I have had and the people I have encountered, I would have bracketed him among the great sports administrators. I would have put him up there with Mourinho and Ferguson and other people I have met that have really impressed me in sport. Let’s just say he is not in that bracket any more.

And what about Wiggins, then? You were talking about your admiration for him and what he has done. So after Fancy Bears, and hearing about the corticosteroid…

Yeah, the Fancy Bears did it for me with Brad, I’m afraid. That and what I saw on the BBC with Andrew Marr. I’m afraid I was really disappointed by that.

Contrary to this popular view that the British are the world leaders at building up and then bringing people down, I had no desire to bring Bradley Wiggins down. People would still say I still haven’t brought him down, nor has anyone else. But I have no desire to see his position in British sport undermined in any way.

As I said, there were plenty of journalists in Rio who saw the way that he and I engaged. I had had a few British Cycling stories leading up to the Olympics, and he took the piss out of me in the mixed zone. He made a crack about Ed Clancy taking a shit, and was that going to appear in the Daily Mail tomorrow? [laughs] Because I’d had a few tales from broken bikes to Lizzie Armitstead.

Everybody laughed, everyone thought he was having a pop at me, but then he actually qualified it by saying, ‘I am not a massive fan of your paper, but I do like you. You are all right.’

So that’s where we were at as a journalist and a sportsman. I never class contacts as friends, because I think you get into dangerous territory, but he was someone I had a lot of time for.

So what had jarred with you, in terms of the corticosteroid use? Was it the fact that he had said in his autobiography that he hadn’t received injections, other than drips? And also that he had been healthy before the Tour he won?

Yes. And the fact that he suddenly said that he had been an asthma sufferer when there was no mention of it in his book. Using triamcinolone might not be an anti-doping violation, but I think it was unethical.

And I guess you have read about the other riders who did use it for doping? Who got TUEs to deliberately enhance their performance and to lose weight?

The big thing was, the worry – because he could possibly produce medical records to produce that he is an asthma sufferer, there might well be stuff in writing that says that. But the fact is that if you are actually obtaining a TUE without legitimate means, I have got a problem with that.

There was an awful lot of cynicism about his need for triamcinolone. An awful lot. I spoke to a lot of doctors about this. We were struggling to find a doctor that would prescribe triamcinolone for that.

The UCI’s own rules are that you take the minimum amount of medication that you need to solve a problem, not the maximum.

Yes. And there was that great quote from the guy down in Canterbury who was a respiratory expert. They look after a lot of British athletes. And he said you are taking a mallet to crack a nut.

It is a strong drug. We know it is a strong drug. David Millar said it was the most potent drug he had ever used. Now, I always thought that was slightly stretching it too far, given that he used EPO. Most drug cheats I have spoken to said that EPO is the drug. The greatest drug ever invented for endurance athletes. So the idea that triamcinolone is more potent than EPO. But the weight loss advantages of it are… it is a potent drug.

How do you rank this story, out of all the stories you have done? How does it rank in importance? Would it be one of the most important.

Yeah.. I would have to say it is. It is a bit egotistical to start ranking stories, but it is an important story in my career. But so was Malky [Mackay], and so was…I thought that Armitstead was a pretty important story. I will always bow to Panorama leading the way, but some of the stuff I’ve done on Farah.

They are not easy subjects to write about, a lot of the time. I’ve been physically accosted by parents of athletes, as happened in Rio. It is not always a lot of fun. That was Lizzie Armitstead’s dad. He called me every name under the sun. I tried to reason with him, he wasn’t having it.

Did you or the paper face any legal threats or any other pressure over the Wiggins story?

No. Not so far [laughs]. I know he mentioned it in his statement. But no, we haven’t. Not to my knowledge.

You mentioned that your feelings about Wiggins and Brailsford have changed. How about Team Sky?

Yes. Very much so, yes. Of course. Not everyone at Team Sky. I think some people are grown up enough to recognise that I have got a job to do. And I have to say that Dave Brailsford is fairly mature about it all, and has been pretty professional about it all.

I have done my job. Some of them recognise that. Others… obviously you get a very distinct feeling that they wouldn’t list me among their favourite people.

When I came out of one of the media centres during the Tour, a foreign journalist told me what had happened. They were talking to a couple of the Sky staff guys standing by the car as I came out of the media centre and walked into the car park.

One of the journalists who were there said afterwards, ‘it was quite amusing that after you had walked passed us, the Sky guy turned and looked at you and said, ‘that guy is a c*nt.’’

Did you have any backlash from any other journalists?

No. No. I am not sure… there is a certain competitive element to our profession, isn’t there. But no one has ever said anything to him. Maybe I wouldn’t be everybody’s favourite choice of dining companion, but that was probably the case long before the Bradley Wiggins story [laughs].

Actually, I find that most of my colleagues – certainly the guys I respect – have been very supportive. You just have to see the way that people reported on it today. They believe it is an important story. You have only got to see the coverage on the BBC and in other papers. I don’t have an issue with that.

‘There are lines of inquiry that I am going to keep pursuing’

The news last week that UK Anti Doping was ending its investigation was deflating for Lawton and many others. Rather than coming to a finding, the agency said that the lack of medical records and the refusal of Freeman to testify meant that it was in an impossible situation. “Despite very significant effort on UKAD’s part, UKAD remains unable to confirm or refute the account that the package delivered to Team Sky contained Fluimucil,” it said, noting that it had passed information on to the General Medical Council (GMC) and that it could potentially reopen the investigation if more information emerged.

Are you surprised that Dave Brailsford is still in his position as Team Sky principal?

Yes. I think there were points where he was really was hanging on by his fingernails. And people within Sky said that was the case. At the absolute height of it, people within Sky were communicating to me and other journalists I know that they thought they were close to Sky pulling the plug. But it didn’t happen.

I found there was a strange response at Sky, the way they reacted. They had the chairman of Team Sky, Graham McWilliam, he was also the deputy head of news… He was criticising the journalism on his Twitter. This guy is the deputy head of news at Sky. I think that tweet actually backfired on him, as he didn’t seem to be the deputy head of news for much longer. He got a lot of criticism. I know David Walsh had a go at him.

I don’t know what motivated Sky to circle the wagons. As things stand, they do have a defence that there has been no anti-doping rule violation. But, you know, their former doctor has had to resign. Two very damaging parliamentary hearings, and an awful lot of reputational damage. And there is not an ADRV [Anti-Doping Rule Violation]…well, not helped by the fact that one of the key witnesses doesn’t have to speak to them, and the fact that UKAD is so powerless and under-resourced.

In terms of what is next, we still have the parliamentary select committee. Its chairman Damian Collins has been pretty strong about this matter.

Yeah, I think that could be interesting.

What could they do? What powers do they have?

They don’t have any power, but they might have more evidence.

Which would go back to UKAD, I guess?

Whether it goes there I don’t know, but they have parliamentary privilege, don’t they? I think that will be an interesting day when that report comes out. We will see.

The GMC is another avenue. And, what, that’s it? You think a journalist just packs up his laptop and moves on to the next story? Of course there are other stories, but we still haven’t proved what was in the package. UKAD might have closed it, but I haven’t closed it. I’ll keep going.

Do you have any more information from that source, or any other sources? Is there more in the pipeline about the team, or about this issue?

Let’s just say there are lines of inquiry that I am going to keep pursuing. Sorry to sound like a policeman there, but there are things I need to look at.

Wiggins put out a statement and claimed to have been exonerated. What is your reaction to what he said?

Well, I have an issue with demanding that the whistleblower or blowers be outed. That to me seems to be anti-sport. Whistleblowers need to be encouraged, Brad, is what I would say. Look, it might have been uncomfortable for him. But even if we never ascertain for certain what was in the package, it did expose some serious issues.

It was a very worthwhile exercise. It exposed serious issues in terms of the crossover between Team Sky and British Cycling. It was like Manchester United and the FA being under the same roof, and FA coaches running around for Man United. It was completely compromised. And the fact that Simon Cope was the British women’s coach, and we have since had British women riders saying, ‘he was never around for us, but he could run around for Bradley Wiggins?’

So it revealed that issue. And it revealed major, major issues with how the medical side of things is run at British Cycling and at Team Sky. So to say that it is in the public interest to expose the whistleblower…the whistleblower told a story, and the story checks out. And it led to some very alarming issues for both Team Sky and British Cycling. So that is my biggest issue with his statement. I just thought it was ill-conceived.

And there was talk of witch hunts.

It’s not a witch hunt. It’s not a witch hunt. That certainly wasn’t my motivation. I wasn’t looking to damage Team Sky or Bradley Wiggins. As I said, just read my copy from Rio.

The other thing that was peculiar was he gave an endorsement of Freeman, but also criticised the medical staff. That seemed contradictory.

Yeah, it was. I noted that as well. It was very praising of Richard. I guess there is an argument that Richard was overburdened and should have had more help in recording… If you have got an enormous number of athletes in your care, maybe you should have had more help in the administrative side of stuff. But yes, there was a definite contraction in that part of the statement.

There was also a mention of possible legal avenues, or however it was phrased. Do you think that was referring to your paper?

I don’t know. I don’t know. I have to say that my paper are great people to work for, very supportive and very professional. I don’t know. His main anger seemed to be vented at UKAD, to be honest. He seemed very unhappy with the wording of their statement. I don’t know. It was too ambiguous to know what he meant by it.

To finish up, what do you think should happen with British Cycling and Team Sky?

Well, I think Team Sky need to leave the Manchester Velodrome. From what I understand it, Jonathan Browning did ask Team Sky to leave the building. But because they are not actually the landlords…it is a public building that they both rent from the Manchester City council.

From what I understand, Browning asked Brailsford if he would move his office staff elsewhere, and he refused. He basically said you are treating us like we have done something wrong. But I think they do need to separate. I still hear of a closeness between British Cycling and Team Sky that I find slightly worrying. I think there needs to be a proper division between them.

But I think the biggest thing is UKAD. The government needs to look at this, WADA needs to look at this, and the whole of World Sport needs to look at this. You have got to give these guys some power. They can’t even get Richard Freeman to give them an interview. What is that all about?

And USADA have got exactly the same problem with Jeffrey Brown. It is exactly the same. They can’t get him in front them to talk about what he may or may not have done with the Nike Oregon Project people. They are powerless. They have got no power.

Damian Collins has said he sees a justification for criminalising doping in sport. Do you agree with that?

I think you have got to be careful when you have got, say, a 17-year old in a particular country who has been put under massive pressure, or may not even realise they are being given something. But I think there could be some… you would have to look at it very carefully, I am not a lawyer, but I think in some cases you could make it a criminal offence.

Even if you don’t make it a criminal offence, is there not a way to give anti-doping agencies the power to go, right, medical records, bank records, I want to see everything. Bang, we are coming in.

The ridiculous thing is, and it is something that Sky tried to make some real digs at me — I did the story about the raid, and they jumped all over me because we used the word ‘raid’ when the investigators first went in. I got tipped off that the investigators had gone in days after I had done the story, maybe within 48 hours, had gone into the velodrome.

I just assumed it was a raid. I didn’t know that they had to inform them that they were coming. I just didn’t realise that they had to do that. So Sky took great delight in taking exception to that and really gunning for me on that. Not legally, but they were really furious about it. And they accused me of shoddy journalism.

That kind of stuff still grates. It just didn’t occur to me for a second that when they have gone in, that they have actually had to say, ‘we are coming.’ When you are going in, to shut down the medical room – which is what they did – they had to say, ‘we are coming.’ Twelve hours before, or whatever it was. ‘We are coming in the morning.’

It just seems ridiculous that UKAD investigators need to tell them they are coming. And these guys are ex policemen, you’d think that they must feel it is ridiculous too.

If you think somebody has committed serious fraud, you don’t get serious fraud officers going, ‘right, we are coming to your office tomorrow. We are going through all your files. We are looking for evidence of serious fraud. We will be there in the morning. See you later.’

Have the kettle on!

Exactly! But that is what happened. And that is the problem…

As he said he would, Lawton has continued to dig in the days since this interview was carried out. Late on Monday the Daily Mail published a story, written by Lawton, revealing that the company which delivered testosterone to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester in 2011 — offices to British Cycling and Team Sky — had refused to cooperate with the investigations by UK Anti-Doping and British Cycling.

Lawton named that company as being Oldham-based Fit 4 Sport Ltd. Earlier this year Team Sky’s former medical director, Dr. Steve Peters, claimed the package was sent “in error.” However in the absence of proof of that, Lawton notes that both UKAD and the General Medical Council are thought to be investigating the matter.

The digging continues, both for those bodies and also for Lawton and others.

Editors' Picks