Wiggins speaks of ‘witch hunt’, says he is assessing legal options

by Shane Stokes


Following this morning’s statement by UK Anti Doping that it has not been able to prove or disprove that a package delivered to Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins in 2011 contained a legal medication, and was therefore dropping its investigation, Wiggins has issued a strongly-worded response.

The former professional is critical of how he said he was treated, has asserted his innocence and made clear that he may take legal action. He has also called for the anonymous source which revealed the existence of the package to be made public.

“Being accused of any doping indiscretion is the worst possible thing for any professional sportsperson, especially when it is without any solid factual basis and you know the allegation to be categorically untrue,” he said in the statement.

“I have kept my silence throughout this period to allow UKAD to conduct their investigation in the most professional way possible and so as not to undermine it. This is despite widespread and unfounded speculation in the press, being hounded on my door step and having commentators and professional riders wading in without knowing all the facts.

“This period of time has been a living hell for me and my family, full of innuendo and speculation. At times it has felt nothing less than a malicious witch hunt.”

Wiggins said that he welcomed UKAD’s confirmation that no anti-doping charges are to be brought in relation to the delivery of the package. It was transported by former British Cycling employee Simon Cope from England to France via Switzerland, being delivered on the final day of the Critérium du Dauphiné and administered to Wiggins by former team doctor Richard Freeman.

Months after the Daily Mail revealed the existence of the package, Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford told a parliamentary select committee hearing that it contained the legal decongestant Fluimucil.

“It has always been the case that no such charges could be brought against me as no anti-doping violations took place,” he said. “I am pleased that this has finally been confirmed publicly but there are a large number of questions regarding the investigation which I feel remain unanswered.”

However Wiggins’ assertion that no anti-doping violations took place has ‘finally been confirmed publicly’ is somewhat misleading; UKAD’s statement on Wednesday actually said that it was unable to bring doping charges because it was unable to ‘confirm or refute the account that the package delivered to Team Sky contained Fluimucil.’

Rather than making a judgement as to whether or not the team account was true, it said that it was impossible to verify either way.

The grey area is due in part to Freeman. He was supposed to upload all medical records to Team Sky’s Dropbox system, but didn’t do so. Instead, he kept the information on his laptop, and said that the device was stolen when he was on holidays in Greece. He also said that he had no backups of the system.

He has reportedly been suffering from ill health and has been unavailable for interviews with UKAD or the separate Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry.

Despite his errors, Freeman was defended by Wiggins. “Much criticism has been made of Dr Freeman. I have always felt, and still feel, that he is a very good physician and treated me and others with great care and respect.”

Notwithstanding that endorsement, the rider implied that the staff who treated him were to blame for the situation.

“During my career, like any other professional sportsperson, I relied heavily on the professional team around me, whether that be coaches, trainers or more pertinently medical practitioners,” he said. “The medical documentation concerning my treatment was absolutely out of my control. I put ultimate trust in the team around me to do their jobs in their specific field of expertise to the same standard that I would expect of myself on the bike.

“Had the infrastructure for precise record keeping been in place this investigation would have never started.”

Wiggins said that he had done everything in his power to help UKAD with the investigation. He said he was interviewed for 90 minutes on November 28 of last year, and also handed over all the relevant medical records that were available to him.

“I have not subsequently been contacted by UKAD to query anything I said or any information I provided. Nor have I have been asked for any additional information.”

Wiggins laid out what he said were a series of questions that he had in relation to the matter.

These are the following:

– Where did the information come from to launch the investigation?
– Who was the source?
– What exactly did that person say and to whom?
– Why did UKAD deem it appropriate to treat it as a credible allegation?
– Surely now it is in the public interest to reveal this source?
– Why has it taken so long for these conclusions to be drawn?
– How much tax payers money has been spent so far on this investigation?

He concluded his statement by thanking those who stood by him and his family ‘while this dark cloud has been over us,’ and suggested that he will head down the legal route.

“For now, I would implore the media to give me and my family space, and respect our privacy. I plan on making no further public statement at this point as I assess which legal options to pursue.”

UKAD indicated that it had passed on information to Britain’s General Medical Council. According to the Daily Mail, this could potentially mean that a further investigation will be carried out by the GMC, which has much stronger powers.

Time will tell if this is the case, but Wiggins is treating the matter as having come to an end.

Wiggins’ full statement is as follows:

Following this morning’s statement from UKAD, it is only now that I have the opportunity to break my silence, give my reaction to the events of the last 14 months and to ask a few questions of my own.

Being accused of any doping indiscretion is the worst possible thing for any professional sportsperson, especially when it is without any solid factual basis and you know the allegation to be categorically untrue.

I have kept my silence throughout this period to allow UKAD to conduct their investigation in the most professional way possible and so as not to undermine it. This is despite widespread and unfounded speculation in the press, being hounded on my door step and having commentators and professional riders wading in without knowing all the facts.

This period of time has been a living hell for me and my family, full of innuendo and speculation. At times it has felt nothing less than a malicious witch hunt.

To say I am disappointed by some of the comments made by UKAD this morning is an understatement. No evidence exists to prove a case against me and in all other circumstances this would be an unqualified finding of innocence.

The amount of time it has taken to come to today’s conclusion has caused serious personal damage, especially as the investigation seems to be predicated on a news headline rather than real solid information.

UKAD’s findings this morning have left me with a series of my own questions:

– Where did the information come from to launch the investigation?
– Who was the source?
– What exactly did that person say and to whom?
– Why did UKAD deem it appropriate to treat it as a credible allegation?
– Surely now it is in the public interest to reveal this source?
– Why has it taken so long for these conclusions to be drawn?
– How much tax payers money has been spent so far on this investigation?

I want to make it plain and clear that I have done everything in my power to assist UKAD with their investigation. I was interviewed for over 90 minutes on November 28th 2016, and I have also handed over to UKAD’s investigators all the relevant medical records available to me. I have not subsequently been contacted by UKAD to query anything I said or any information I provided. Nor have I have been asked for any additional information.

During my career, like any other professional sportsperson, I relied heavily on the professional team around me, whether that be coaches, trainers or more pertinently medical practitioners. The medical documentation concerning my treatment was absolutely out of my control. I put ultimate trust in the team around me to do their jobs in their specific field of expertise to the same standard that I would expect of myself on the bike. Had the infrastructure for precise record keeping been in place this investigation would have never started.

Much criticism has been made of Dr Freeman. I have always felt, and still feel, that he is a very good physician and treated me and others with great care and respect.

For now, I would implore the media to give me and my family space, and respect our privacy. I plan on making no further public statement at this point as I assess which legal options to pursue.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank those who have stood by me and my family while this dark cloud has been over us.

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