Report: British Cycling testosterone shipment may not have been an accident

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The box of testosterone patches that landed at British Cycling headquarters seven years ago may not have been ordered in error, according to a new report in the Daily Mail.

The report suggests that Britain’s General Medical Council (GMC), which has been investigating British Cycling, may have found evidence that the testosterone was ordered purposefully and delivered to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. In a subsequent effort to hide the order, a request was made of the supplier in Oldham to send an email claiming the package had been sent in error.

The existence of the box of testosterone patches in question was revealed in March 2017. The box was delivered to Manchester in 2011. Dr. Richard Freeman, the subject of the GMC’s current investigation, claimed in May that the patches were not for any athlete. Dr. Steve Peters, former head of medicine at British Cycling, claimed the box was sent in error.

The latest revelation does not necessarily contradict or disprove Dr. Freeman’s claim that the box was not for any athlete — it is still possible that the shipment was intended for a member of staff. But the revelation, and in particular the alleged falsified email, does directly contradict Dr. Peters’ claim that the box was sent in error.

Using testosterone is illegal at all times under the WADA code. It’s a substance that has been heavily abused by cyclists in the past, used for increasing strength and improving recovery. The hormone can be absorbed through the skin and is commonly administered via a patch.

Multiple former cyclists have admitted to its use, including Lance Armstrong, Michael Rasmussen, and Floyd Landis.

Landis has previously expressed skepticism at British Cycling’s story. “I never accidentally ordered a load of testosterone patches by mistake, even when I was ordering testosterone patches!” Landis told the CyclingTips Podcast last year.

British Cycling and Team Sky have been battered by questions of medical impropriety. The two organizations are headquartered at the National Cycling Centre and have shared staff.

In 2011, a mysterious medical package — the infamous “jiffy bag” — shipped to Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins prior to the Tour de France. Sky has claimed the package contained legal decongestant Fluimucil, but failed to produce medical records to back up the claim and has changed its version of events multiple times. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, Wiggins took the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone prior to three major Grand Tours. He did so legally with Therapeutic Use Exemptions, which were revealed when WADA’s databse was hacked by the Fancy Bear group. Most recently, Chris Froome received an adverse analytical finding for the asthma drug salbutamol at the Vuelta a Espana. He had twice the legal limit in his system at the time.

Dr. Freeman resigned from his post at British Cycling in November, citing ill-health.

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