Cycling: More questions as details of Bradley Wiggins’ package revealed

Bradley Wiggins celebrating winning the 2012 Tour de France during the final stage of the event. The Briton announced his retirement from cycling on Wednesday after winning eight Olympic medals.
Bradley Wiggins celebrating winning the 2012 Tour de France during the final stage of the event. The Briton announced his retirement from cycling on Wednesday after winning eight Olympic medals.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • British Cycling has failed to provide any documentary proof to a British parliamentary committee that a "medical package" administered to Bradley Wiggins in the weeks before the 2011 Tour de France contained only a legal decongestant.

The latest controversy, which came as Wiggins announced his retirement from professional cycling on Wednesday, deepened after a copy of a credit card bill from Simon Cope, the British Cycling coach who couriered the medication from Manchester to France, raised further questions over the package.

British Cycling's president Bob Howden has written to the Culture, Media and Sport select committee saying that the governing body "understands" that the package contained Fluimucil, a decongestant to be used in a nebuliser.

The committee has been unable to access documents and information because they are "locked down by UK Anti-Doping investigators".

Last week, Howden told a committee hearing that records of pharmaceutical products would have been kept and promised he would provide confirmation of the contents of the package.

Shane Sutton, Team Sky's coach at the time, has said that Wiggins, who denies any wrongdoing, was "struggling" with ill health for the last few days of the Dauphine race in 2011 and that he arranged for Cope to bring the package as he was travelling to the Dauphine race anyway for a "logistics reason".

Cope's credit card bill has been supplied to the committee and a copy of it has been seen by The Times, London. It reveals that, on June 8, Cope booked a return train from Eastbourne to Manchester and he annotated it as "Dauphine".

He collected the package, returned to southern England and stayed overnight at a hotel at Gatwick airport on June 11, before flying to Geneva on June 12. He flew back on the same day.

The total cost of Cope's trip, including a hire car from Geneva to La Toussuire, came to £597.65 (S$1,062.12).

The details raised questions about why Team Sky waited four days to treat Wiggins if it was known he was ill.

His former doctor at the Garmin team, Prentice Steffen, questioned why the medication was not obtained from a French pharmacy for the cost of about €8 (S$12).

Damian Collins, chairman of the select committee, said that British Cycling's responses, including details of Cope's expenses, had failed to provide any clear answers.

He said: "The more we discover about the package, the more questions seem to be thrown up...

"It also seems that British Cycling do not know categorically what was in the package. They say they understand it to be Fluimucil but do not explain why they understand that's what it was."

Wiggins, 36, has defiantly insisted that he has done nothing wrong, and has announced his retirement, ending a career in which he won a British record eight Olympic medals as well as the country's first Tour de France title.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2016, with the headline 'More questions as details of Wiggins' package revealed'. Print Edition | Subscribe