“A Team Sky spokesman said they remained fully behind their team principal (Sir David) despite the claims in the Daily Mail and his admission to the select committee on Monday that he had made mistakes.”
If you’re a soccer aficionado you’ll know that if Sky was a football team Sir Dave would be out by Tuesday after a message of support like that from the Board.
But word is that if Dave goes then Sky pulls the plug.
And by the way, did you see Sir Brad’s ‘coming out’ as a Scotsman on Instagram, complete with ‘Braveheart’ face paint?
‘They Can Never Take My Package!!’ says the caption – he was obviously not being grilled by the Parliamentary Committee the following day – one suspects that if he was he may be a little less flippant about the mess his former team finds itself up to it’s neck in.
Here at VeloVeritas we’ve enlisted a leading genealogist to trace the good Knight’s origins; if it’s confirmed that he has Scottish roots we’ve arranged with our man in Spain, Al Hamilton to move into his wood shed in Polop and take out Spanish citizenship – ¡No pasaran!
Our editor, Martin skeked the Parliamentary shenanigans as they happened, here are his off-the-cuff, immediate reactions to what he watched;
“I watched the session today on the Parliamentary stream – what a plane crash for Team Sky…
“It’s recorded – go to Sutton’s section if you are short of time.
First up was Robert Howden OBE, President and Chair, British Cycling, and Dr George Gilbert, British Cycling board director and Chair of the British Cycling Ethics Commission. Both were very evasive; they were on a loop (“we’re not permitted to say anything by UKAD while they are investigating”) but actually they were – UKAD said so, in a letter that Damian Collins MP (the chair) presented right at the start.
“Still, they refused to say anything, and “knew nothing”.
“Having listened to all the witnesses, there are inconsistencies throughout… They didn’t dispute that Cope flew out specifically to deliver the package, but said it could have been shoes or pedals in the bag; I have to say though, I would know whether a jiffy bag in my hands that I’m asked to carry through UK and Swiss customs contained shoes, Speedplay pedals or a cardboard box with rattly pills – and I’d make damn sure I knew it was legal.
“Gilbert said no BC senior managers knew what was in the package.
“Second in the chair was Shane Sutton OBE. He knew nothing, became very defensive and questioned why the questioners were asking questions!
“He said he was hurt that they didn’t just stand behind this British team.
“He apparently never spoke to the riders about their meds, never had anything to do ‘with the medical side’ …
“He said Cope was going out anyway and so took the package with him. He never asked what was in it, and so couldn’t tell Cope.
“But he knew it was a pharma product and that Doc Freeman administered it to Wiggins that very day, before he and Cope left to return to London.
“Then Sir David Brailsford was in the chair.
“He eventually said what was in the package, after making a big thing about it, “well, if you say it’s ok…” and contradicting the first two witnesses: it was… Fluimucil.
“He said it was for “Brad’s nebuliser” … Turns out it’s a treatment that is not licensed in the UK, and is in France, and costs 8 euros in France. There are several pharmacies close to the camp the team were moving to and a few within a few minutes of the end of the Dauphine!).
“Also turns out that the drug is contra-indicated, or similar, with asthma … an odd drug to give to a rider with asthma then.
“He said the product was to “re-stock” the doc’s store, contradicting Sutton.
“Brailsford said Cope was going out to “help with the logistics of moving the riders to the next training camp”, but only stayed a few hours…
“So it took a Government committee to force Brailsford to be “transparent” – but I reckon this day will only have made things much, much worse for British Cycling, Team Sky, Sutton and him. And of course, Wiggins’ reputation.”
A good summation, I’d say. Martin also sent me a link to Off the Ball, Get Gilroy’s Irish sports radio show’s interview with David Walsh – yes, Lance’s chum, the same one.
As Walsh said of Wiggins’ TUE’s; ‘he received a significant corticosteroid four days before the race.’
When you hear it expressed like that it does jolt.
And continued that; ‘he’d need to be a pretty sick person to require that medication.’ Not the first time we’ve heard that view expressed.
And Walsh asks the $64,000 question; ‘why did Sir David not come out and say what was in the package when he was interviewed all those weeks ago?’
He explained that whilst Sir David claims that it’s not up to just one medic to decide upon the need for a TUE, the fact is that it is – Doctor Freeman.
And when Walsh continues with the fact that Sky senior figures, Tim Kerrison the man behind the training programmes which took Wiggins to Tour glory and team stalwart Rod Ellingworth, the man behind just about every Sky success, didn’t know about Brad’s TUE’s – surprising, to say the least.
Walsh concludes that whilst Freeman is the man ‘pushing the medical envelope’ it’s Brailsford as his boss who should be held accountable for these ‘debatable drug doings’ – and should resign, forthwith.
This view is being expressed by other observers including my former colleague, Irish cycling journo, Shane Stokes.
But as we said earlier in the piece, the word is, ‘no Sir David, no Team Sky.’
The long and the short of this mess is that Sir Brad and Sir David are experiencing the long drop off the summit; the Media praise your scrabbling up there to savour the vista – but they love to help you hurtle down the other side into the valley of doubt, disgrace and dishonour.
When The Mail contacted Sir David he should have immediately realised that someone – a disaffected Sky employee? – had tipped the tabloid off re. the package and if they knew dates, names and places, they probably knew the contents too…
It’s not inconceivable that The Mail know the real contents of the package and are saving that for a massive coup de grace?
Even if they don’t and the affair splutters to an inconclusive close it’s been a shocking own goal by a team which has been so pious, judgemental and po-faced when the subject of drugs is mentioned.
And for many, as Walsh said; ‘there’s now forever an asterisk beside Bradley Wiggins’ name as a Tour de France winner…’