Cycling boss regrets his handling of crisis

Great Britain's Christopher Froome (left), wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Team Sky director Sir Dave Brailsford drink a glass of champagne at the start of the 113km twenty-first and last stage of the 103rd edition of the Tour de Fran
Great Britain's Christopher Froome (left), wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Team Sky director Sir Dave Brailsford drink a glass of champagne at the start of the 113km twenty-first and last stage of the 103rd edition of the Tour de France.PHOTO: AFP

Team Sky principal says he was 'too hasty' in his initial response to anti-doping questions

LONDON • Dave Brailsford has conceded his handling of the complex affair of the Jiffy bag delivered to Team Sky at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine had made the affair "a damn sight worse than it needs to be".

But he maintained his stance that the therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which meant Bradley Wiggins could have injections of the corticosteroid triamcinolone before three major stage races, give him no cause for concern.

Wiggins, Brailsford and Team Sky have been criticised over the TUEs, although the injections to treat what the rider has described as severe pollen allergies and asthma were approved at the time by the world governing body, the UCI, meaning that no rules were broken.

The UCI has, however, tightened its procedures since then, with a three-man panel ruling on applications, and it has changed its medical chief.

In an extended interview with The Telegraph cycling podcast, Brailsford looked at the circumstances around the delivery of the Jiffy bag to Team Sky by the then Great Britain women's coach Simon Cope, containing what was described as "a medical substance".

IMPLICIT FAITH IN HIS MEDICAL STAFF

I should have waited until the picture was complete rather than contradict myself. I've thrown petrol on the fire.

DAVE BRAILSFORD, Team Sky chief, insisting that there has been no violation of anti-doping rules.

However, the Team Sky principal did not say precisely what was in the package, despite being pressed on the issue several times.

Brailsford said that his initial assertion that Cope had gone to the Alps to meet the British rider Emma Pooley had been an inadvertent mistake.

"I shouldn't have been so hasty in sharing that. I should have waited until the picture was complete rather than contradict myself. I've thrown petrol on the fire," he said.

He added that he had asked UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) to open an inquiry into the package.

"I can find no wrong-doing… no anti-doping rule violation, no prohibited substances," he said. "I can't see any of that from what I've got. We are not hiding anything wrong here. I welcome the intervention of Ukad… they can get to the bottom of it and establish the truth."

Defending Wiggins over his TUEs, Brailsford reiterated several times that he had placed his faith in Team Sky's medical staff and would defer to their superior knowledge.

Asked about the dates of the TUEs - shortly before each of the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and 2013 Giro d'Italia - he stated "there isn't a systematic pattern of TUE abuse" and that a greater number of TUEs and "more of a coherent pattern" would arouse suspicion.

"I have no knowledge whatsoever in any way, shape or form of us systematically using any of those and if I did, I'd stop it," he said. "It's not what we're about."

In the future, Brailsford said, it was likely Team Sky would be more open over TUEs, moving towards making some of them public.

He said the team might get "independent experts" to review their activities "from top to bottom… so that we achieve the ethical standards we are trying to achieve."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Cycling boss regrets his handling of crisis'. Print Edition | Subscribe