Team sky 'courier' faces grilling

Bradley Wiggins riding at a special event last month called "Ciao Fabian", to say goodbye to the retiring Swiss time-trial Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara. The Briton has been in the spotlight over the contents of a mystery package delivered to hi
Bradley Wiggins riding at a special event last month called "Ciao Fabian", to say goodbye to the retiring Swiss time-trial Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara. The Briton has been in the spotlight over the contents of a mystery package delivered to him during the Criterium du Dauphine in June 2011.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Simon Cope may be called up as Parliament awaits anti-doping agency review of package

LONDON • The fallout from British Cycling and Team Sky's unconvincing performance in the British parliament continued on Tuesday.

The chair of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, MP Damian Collins, told The Guardian that he is considering calling Simon Cope - the official who travelled 1,450km to France to take Team Sky a decongestant that could have been bought in a local pharmacy for €8 (S$12) - for questioning.

There was also confusion over whether Bradley Wiggins' medical records had been passed to UK Anti-doping (Ukad) as promised by the Team Sky team principal, Dave Brailsford, in Parliament.

Sources claimed he has yet to do so but others close to Wiggins insisted the 2012 Tour de France winner had done everything possible to cooperate with the inquiry.

On Monday, Mr Collins pressed Brailsford three times over the issue, asking him whether he agreed that Wiggins' medical details should be checked to see whether it corresponded with what he claimed had been treatment for the decongestant Fluimucil.

"You're absolutely right," Brailsford replied. "And my understanding is they have been made available to Ukad."

Later the Team Sky principal said: "If Bradley had taken something he shouldn't, then he was tested afterwards, and my understanding is that would have created an AAF (adverse analytical finding).

SUSPICIONS OF MEDDLING

We need to know when he (Brailsford) knew what was in the package, and why he was seeking to close down a perfectly legitimate inquiry.

MR DAMIAN COLLINS, the British MP who chairs the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, on reports that Team Sky team principal Dave Brailsford tried to suppress the Daily Mail's coverage of the story.

"So I think the fact he has shared his medical records for that time is very much a step in the right direction."

Team Sky and British Cycling are also likely to face further questions about their use of Fluimucil - which Brailsford has used regularly - given it has emerged that acetylcysteine (the brand name for Fluimucil) is a medicine available only by prescription in Britain because it is an unlicensed drug.

That means there should be a paper trail stating who prescribed it and when.

However, it is understood Ukad has yet to be presented with incontrovertible paper evidence of what was in the package.

Mr Collins said he remained "open" to interviewing Cope and bringing back previous witnesses in the new year, but said he would wait for Ukad to publish its investigation into a medical package delivered to Sky at the Criterium du Dauphine in June 2011.

In October, Cope told Cycling News the package has "nothing to do with Brad" and that there was "no story".

Events in Parliament on Monday proved otherwise.

"We are open to calling people back to ask them further questions," said Mr Collins. "At this stage we are not ruling anything out."

Cope is likely to be asked to explain his movements after delivering the package to Team Sky.

On Monday, Brailsford said the coach was coming to France anyway to help with the logistics of moving the team to another venue in northern Italy.

However, a few minutes earlier, Shane Sutton, the team's head coach at the time, told the committee that he shared a car back to Geneva airport after Cope had made the delivery.

"I'm hoping to get Ukad's report early in the new year, but if we feel we can find out extra information we will look at interviewing Cope," Mr Collins said. "Certainly we want to find out whether Cope went to Team Sky specifically to deliver this package or whether he was going out to France anyway."

He also expressed concern about reports Brailsford had apparently offered a "more positive story" to The Daily Mail journalist Matt Lawton in September in a bid to stop him writing about Team Sky.

"We need to know when he knew what was in the package, and why he was seeking to close down a perfectly legitimate inquiry," he said. "It was perfectly right for Lawton to pursue this.

"Brailsford needs to explain what he knew and when - and why he didn't tell Lawton what was in the package when he was first asked."

A Team Sky spokesman said it remained fully behind its team principal, despite the claims in the Daily Mail and his admission to the select committee on Monday that he had made mistakes.

"During the committee session, Dave acknowledged once again his own mistakes in handling the issue over recent months," the spokesman said.

"We are continuing to cooperate fully with Ukad and we look forward to their report. We are confident that when Ukad report, it will be clear there has been no wrongdoing."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2016, with the headline 'Team sky 'courier' faces grilling'. Print Edition | Subscribe