Cycling

Doc, courier in Wiggins row to face probe

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Bradley Wiggins (AFP)
Bradley Wiggins (AFP)

London - The doctor and the courier at the heart of an inquiry into the contents of a medical package given to cycling great Bradley Wiggins are set to be questioned by a committee of British lawmakers.

Dr Richard Freeman and Simon Cope, a former British Cycling women's team manager, will be asked about the drug in the Jiffy bag given to Wiggins in June 2011 and the alleged absence of why there appears to be no record of the contents.

The February 22 hearing of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, is also set to receive evidence on the same day from United Kingdom Anti-Doping chief executive Nicole Sapstead. 

UKAD's own investigation into "potential wrongdoing" during the incident is set to be completed by then. 

The issue had become highly controversial amid general allegations that the therapeutic use exemption (TUE) procedure - official notes allowing athletes to use otherwise banned substances - may have been abused.

Cope, who now works for Team Wiggins, told Tuesday's edition of The Times: "I want to clear it up because I’m fed up with my name being dragged through the mud.

"To this day, hand on heart, on my kids’ hearts, I do not know what was in there. I was asked to do a job."

UKAD launched an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing involving the team and the national governing body following a Daily Mail newspaper report about the delivery of a mystery package to the Sky team at the end of the Criterium du Dauphine race in June 2011, a month before Wiggins' first TUE for triamcinolone.

Following two months' silence about what was in the package, Sky principal and former British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford informed the same committee of lawmakers in December that he had been told it contained a legal decongestant.

Committee chairman Damian Collins, in a statement issued late on Monday, said: “We need to know if UKAD have received documentary evidence which confirms what was in the package that was delivered by Simon Cope to Team Sky.

"Without this evidence, I am concerned about how it is possible for the anti-doping rules to be policed in an appropriate manner, if it is not possible to review the records of medicines prescribed to riders by the team doctors."

Last week former Olympic and world champion Nicole Cooke, in evidence to the committee, questioned Wiggins's TUE history, saying pointedly that he used the "same steroid before his main goals of the season".

Cooke also slammed anti-doping authorities, including UKAD, for ineffective efforts being waged by "the wrong people, in the wrong way, with the wrong tools".

She also questioned why Cope, who was being paid public money for his role with the women's team, travelled from London to Geneva, via Manchester, to deliver an over-the-counter medicine to a professional men's team at a time when she struggled to persuade him to set up a training camp for that year's world championships.

Cooke's damning conclusion was that cycling was a "sport run by men for men".

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