Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford admits his errors fanned the flames of controversy over allegations of wrongdoing but has again insisted those allegations are false.
UK Anti-Doping is investigating after the Daily Mail reported Team Sky and Sir Bradley Wiggins were under scrutiny over a package delivered to Brailsford’s squad at the June 2011 Criterium du Dauphine race in France.
Brailsford, pictured right, says he provided a “running commentary” of his personal fact-finding mission, which contained errors, but will not disclose what was in the package. He insisted Team Sky had the support of parent company Sky and there was no suggestion he would resign.
Brailsford incorrectly stated that Simon Cope, who was then British Cycling women’s team manager and the courier of the package, had travelled to the Alps to visit Emma Pooley, when she was in fact racing in the Basque country in Spain.
Another error was the claim Wiggins could not have been on the Team Sky bus at La Toussuire as it had already left, but video footage subsequently showed it was there.
“I don’t think I’ve handled the situation as well as I could’ve done and probably made it a damn sight worse than it needed to be,” Brailsford, the British Cycling performance director until April 2014, told the Cycling Podcast.
“From what was a small little fire, if you like, I have inadvertently thrown a huge amount of petrol on it. And two and two equals ten now. I incorrectly spoke about Emma Pooley. I also said [about] the bus. That’s compounded the whole situation. It looks like there is something strange going on here when it turns out that there isn’t. I have looked at this allegation and I can find no wrongdoing.
“We’re not cheating. We’re not doing anything wrong here. The one thing I know about Team Sky is that this is a clean team. If I didn’t think we were doing it the right way I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Team Sky, launched with a zero-tolerance policy to doping in 2010, “strongly refute” allegations of wrongdoing and are co- operating with the UKAD investigation which Wiggins has also welcomed. British Cycling is also co-operating.
“I can tell you my interpretation and what I find out here, but it’s not going to be sufficient for most people,” Brailsford added. “What people want is an independent view. And that is what we are going to get with the UK Anti-Doping investigation, which is why I absolutely welcome it.”
The investigation has followed a furore around Wiggins seeking and receiving permission to use an otherwise banned substance ahead of three of his biggest races on medical grounds, including the 2012 Tour de France when he became the first British winner.
Data stolen by hackers showed Wiggins received three therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for the anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone on the eve of the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and 2013 Giro d’Italia.
Wiggins and Brailsford have strenuously denied any wrongdoing, insisting each time the TUEs were medically necessary to deal with a pollen allergy that aggravates Wiggins’ long-standing asthma condition.
The TUEs also had the approval of the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, and there is no suggestion that Wiggins or the team have broken any rules. l Mark Cavendish narrowly failed to win his second Road World Championship title in Doha yesterday when he was just beaten on the line by defending champion Peter Sagan.
In a bunched sprint finish to the line Cavendish was pipped by the length of the Slovakian’s bike after a gruelling 257.5-kilometre ride in searing heat and tricky crosswinds.
Windy conditions in the desert saw the race split with about 80km remaining with Cavendish and fellow Briton Adam Blyth among those in the lead group.
With about 25 riders in the pack, Holland’s Tom Leezer made a break for the front with just over 2km remaining but he was eventually reeled in on the final incline to the finish but Cavendish – winner of the event in 2011 – could not quite edge ahead of Sagan before the line with Belgium’s Tom Boonen finishing third.