Published: Fri, November 17, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

UK Anti-Doping closes Team Sky jiffy bag probe, but questions remain

UK Anti-Doping closes Team Sky jiffy bag probe, but questions remain

The closing of an investigation into the mysterious Jiffy bag delivered from British Cycling to Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins at the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné is "not an exoneration of anyone" according to an influential MP.

Sir Dave Brailsford, the general manager of Team Sky, British Cycling, and the doctor who ordered the package, Richard Freeman, have all insisted it contained fluimucil, a legal treatment for respiratory problems.

"It has always been the case that no such charges could be brought against me as no anti-doping violations took place".

"I can confirm that Ukad does not intend to issue any anti-doping charges as a result of the investigation into the package", said Ukad chief executive Nicole Sapstead, who began looking into the affair a year ago following revelations in the Daily Mail.

But while the end of the investigation will come as a relief to many in the sport, the lack of medical records, the inaccuracies in Team Sky's initial explanations for the mystery delivery, the unavailability of key witness Dr Richard Freeman to Ukad investigators, the theft of his laptop, and the medical exemptions that Wiggins had before major races, all mean that suspicion will linger.

"Our investigation was hampered by a lack of accurate medical records being available at British Cycling", UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said. British Cycling claimed at a parliamentary select committee earlier this year that it contained Fluimucil and not, as had been alleged, the banned corticosteroid Triamcinalone.

In an interview with the BBC in January, Brailsford refused to confirm or deny whether he or anyone else at Team Sky had been able to provide paperwork to prove the package contained Fluimucil.

"Where did the information come from to launch the investigation? Otherwise however, UKAD has now exhausted all the investigative possibilities open to it at this stage, and it is therefore not actively pursuing any further lines of enquiry in relation to the package".

Ukad then began an investigation into the contents of the package.

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But UKAD has sent on information to the General Medical Council, the body which regulates doctors in the UK, which will continue its own probe.

To put it bluntly, this was Ukad's biggest test so far - a high-profile investigation involving two knights of the realm and household names left, right and centre - and it flunked it.

Unlike UKAD, the GMC has the power to over-ride patient confidentiality in its investigation.

Wiggins said in a statement: "I welcome Ukad's confirmation that no anti-doping charges are to be brought regarding the so-called "jiffy-bag" allegations". In this case the matter was further complicated by the cross over between personnel at British Cycling and Team Sky.

Making no direct reference to the failure to keep detailed medical records, Team Sky said: "We have co-operated fully with UK Anti-Doping over the previous year".

"Since our inception as a new pro cycling team in 2010 we have continually strengthened our systems and processes so they best support our strong commitment to anti-doping". Nicole Sapstead, the chief executive, should not shoulder too much of the blame.

The former Olympic champion and Tour de France victor also stressed that medical documentation of his treatment was something out of his control, and that throughout his career he relied on the professional team around him including "medical practitioners".

"It's the worst thing to be accused of as a man of my integrity given what I believe and what I've done to get to where I am today."

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