Sir Bradley Wiggins & Team Sky ‘crossed ethical line’, says DCMS report

Sir Bradley Wiggins retired from cycling in December 2016

Sir Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky “crossed an ethical line” by using drugs allowed under anti-doping rules to enhance performance, instead of just for medical need, a report by MPs says.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee said it is “not in a position” to state what was in the ‘jiffy-bag’ delivered to Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.

But it added there is no “reliable evidence” to back up Team Sky’s claim the medical package contained a legal decongestant.

The report also said Team Sky used the anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone to prepare Britain’s most decorated Olympian for the Tour de France, which Wiggins won in 2012.

A UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) investigation that closed in November was unable to establish if Wiggins had received a decongestant or, as alleged, triamcinolone, which is banned in competition.

If Wiggins was injected with triamcinolone on the final day of 2011 Dauphine it would be an anti-doping violation, with the maximum sanction a two-year ban and the loss of results.

“Drugs were being used by Team Sky, within World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) rules, to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical need,” the DCMS report added.

Team Sky said it “strongly refutes” the report’s “serious claim that medication has been used by the team to enhance performance”.

Wiggins said in a statement: “I find it so sad that accusations can be made, where people can be accused of things they have never done, which are then regarded as facts.

“I strongly refute the claim that any drug was used without medical need.”

Triamcinolone is banned in competition under Wada rules, unless the athlete has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE), but is permitted out of competition.

Wiggins, 37, was granted TUEs to take the corticosteroid, which can treat allergies and respiratory issues, shortly before the 2011 Tour de France, his 2012 Tour win and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

While the report said this “does not constitute a violation of the Wada code”, it claims it “does cross the ethical line” set out by Team Sky principal and founder Sir Dave Brailsford, who the report calls on to “take responsibility for these failures”.

Regarding Wiggins’ use of triamcinolone, former Team Sky and British Cycling coach Shane Sutton told the committee “what Brad was doing was unethical but not against the rules”.

The long-awaited report, entitled ‘Combatting Doping in Sport’, also states International Association of Athletics Federations president Lord Coe gave “misleading answers” in evidence about his knowledge of doping allegations in Russian athletics, before they were made in a German television documentary in 2014.

The DCMS committee was also “shocked” that four-time Olympic champion athlete Sir Mo Farah received an injection of the legal supplement L-carnitine before the 2014 London Marathon that was not recorded on Farah’s medical records.

On cycling, Wiggins and Team Sky, the report also states:

  • The TUE system is open to abuse despite welcome reforms by Wada
  • Wada should introduce a complete ban on corticosteroids such as triamcinolone
  • Concern at the use of painkiller Tramadol by Team Sky and others and asks Wada to consider banning it
  • The Ukad investigation into the mystery package was made harder by British Cycling and Team Sky’s failure to keep proper records
  • As a result, UK Sport should determine an amount of compensation due to Ukad from British Cycling and Team Sky to cover the costs of the investigation
  • Brailsford must take responsibility for “the damaging scepticism about the legitimacy of his team’s performance and accomplishments”

The jiffy-bag mystery

Watch: Brailsford’s tense grilling on Team Sky

Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman received a ‘mystery package’