LONDON (Reuters) - Under-fire Team Sky have issued a staunch defence of their medical procedures after a UK Anti-Doping investigation into wrongdoing in British cycling found holes in their record- keeping.
While admitting mistakes had been made in connection with a mystery package at the centre of a controversy surrounding the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, team principal Dave Brailsford said they were “process failures” rather than “wrongdoing”.
Last week UK Anti-Doping chief executive Nicola Sapstead, giving an update to MPs on an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in British Cycling and Team Sky, said no proof had been provided that the package ordered by former team doctor Richard Freeman in 2011 was the legal decongestant Fluimucil.
The committee heard that Freeman had failed to upload documentation of the delivery to a shared Dropbox folder and had instead recorded the shipment on a laptop that was later stolen.
“It strikes me as odd, too, particularly for a road racing team set up to prove races could be won clean. I think it’s strange they haven’t kept records to prove that,” Sapstead said.
In a latter to Damian Collins, chairman of the Department of Culture Media and Sport select committee investigating the delivery to Bradley Wiggins at the Dauphine, Brailsford accepted Sky’s responsibility for the lack of records.
“The events of recent months have highlighted areas where mistakes were made by Team Sky,” Brailsford said.
“Some members of staff did not comply fully with the policies and procedures that existed at that time. Regrettably, those mistakes mean that we have not been able to provide the complete set of records that we should have around the specific race relevant to UKAD’s investigation,” he added.
“We accept full responsibility for this. However, many of the subsequent assumptions and assertions about the way Team Sky operates have been inaccurate or extended to implications that are simply untrue.”
After last week’s hearing, which Freeman was too ill to attend, Collins said Team Sky’s credibility was “in tatters”.
However, the British team produced a document on Tuesday providing “context” around issues relating to the investigation.
It said it had provided UKAD with the receipts for purchases of Fluimucil in 2011, if not the actual medication administered to Wiggins at the Dauphine race.
“Some people have drawn an inference from the events around the 2011 Dauphine that the team kept no medical notes,” the document said. “This is categorically untrue.
“It is correct that a small part of the notes for a few riders (including Bradley Wiggins) were not uploaded by Dr Freeman, but there are otherwise full records in Dropbox relating to those riders who were treated by other team doctors and physiotherapists.”
The investigation was launched last year after a newspaper alleged a package containing the corticosteroid triamcinolone was delivered to Freeman from Manchester and was administered via injection to 2012 Tour de France winner Wiggins.
“UKAD’s extensive investigation has, to date, found no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the allegation that was made,” Brailsford said.
“We remain confident that the allegation is false and that there has been no wrongdoing by Team Sky or its employees.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond