UK cycling mystery solved
Mystery package delivered to Bradley Wiggins was Fluimucil
British cycling and Team Sky under scrutiny for use of therapeutic use exemptions
After months of speculation and more than three hours of questions in Britain’s Parliament Monday, it would appear that one of UK cycling’s biggest mysteries has been solved.
Dave Brailsford, the principal of Team Sky and former head of British Cycling has told Members of Parliament (MPs) that the mystery package delivered to cyclist Bradley Wiggins in an event prior to the 2011 Tour de France was Fluimucil.
Brailsford revealed to MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport committee that he was told what was in the package by Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman.
The unrestricted drug is a decongestant used to loosen thick mucus. “Dr. Freeman told me it was Fluimucil for a nebuliser,” Brailsford said.
Nobody from Team Sky or British Cycling has ever revealed what was in the package prior to Monday’s committee.
UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has reportedly been investigating alleged wrongdoing at Team Sky and British Cycling over events surrounding the delivery of the package earlier this year.
Robert Howden, president and chair of British Cycling, and Dr. George Gilbert, British Cycling board director and chair of the British Cycling Ethics Commission had earlier told the committee that they were not aware of what was in the package.
Former British Cycling’s Performance Director Shane Sutton provided similar answers to the committee’s questions regarding the package.
Brailsford admitted that the situation had not been handled well and that it was normal for a medical product, which can be bought over the counter, to have been flown all the way from Team Sky’s base in the UK to be given to Wiggins who was in France at the time.
He also said that invoices and a UKAD investigation will confirm whether Fluimucil was the drug delivered to Wiggins in 2011.
Read: Wiggins given rapturous reception despite scrutiny
Therapeutic use exemptions
Team Sky have become one of the most prominent teams in road cycling in recent years, with its leading rider Chris Froome winning the Tour de France in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
But questions have been asked around how it used therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which are essentially doctor’s notes enabling athletes to use medicines that would otherwise be banned.
Former Team Sky rider Wiggins has come under particular scrutiny over his use of TUEs for the banned anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone as well as to the hitherto mystery package that was delivered by British Cycling coach Simon Cope during the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine tour.
Read: What are theraputic use exemptions?
The five-time Olympic champion was given three TUEs exemptions to use triamcinolone to treat allergies and asthma before the Tour de France in 2011 and 2012 – when he became the first British cyclist to win the grueling race in its then 109-year history – and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.
The exemptions were granted by the UCI, world cycling’s governing body and there is no suggestion Wiggins or Team Sky broke any rules.
However, although legal, the exemptions were kept secret until a group of Russian hackers known as the Fancy Bears leaked confidential data from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) database in September.
Other top athletes, including star American gymnast Simone Biles and tennis players Serena and Venus Williams, also fell victim to the leaks. Yet all had permission to use banned drugs to treat existing medical conditions.
The Russian government has denied any involvement in the Fancy Bears hacks.
More than 115 Russian athletes, including the entire track and field team, were banned from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, earlier this year after WADA reported uncovering a state sponsored doping program within the country.
The 36-year-old Wiggins seemed to make light of the package issue on Sunday by posting an image of himself dressed as what appeared to be Mel Gibson’s William Wallace character from the popular movie “Braveheart.”
A caption embossed atop the picture read: “They can never take my package!!”
Wiggins, Cope, Brailsford and British Cycling have all denied breaking anti-doping rules.