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Bradley Wiggins angered by questions about medical package from 2011

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LONDON — With investigations escalating into a mystery medical package dispatched to a race six years ago to treat Bradley Wiggins, the British cycling great’s anger boiled over on Thursday.

Not over the revelation that Team Sky didn’t retain adequate records of his medication.

Nor by the discovery that British Cycling didn’t track the movement of medical supplies.

What incensed Wiggins was the presence of reporters outside his home seeking answers about a package being investigated by the country’s anti-doping agency and a parliamentary committee.

After walking down the driveway and opening a gate, Wiggins confronted a BBC television crew and snapped: “This is my house. It’s a private road. I will call the police.”

Associates pushed the camera away as a reporter asked Britain’s most decorated Olympian and first Tour de France winner if he would “shed some light” on the “mystery package.”

THE PACKAGE

What isn’t disputed is that a package was couriered in 2011 to France with a product for Wiggins as he completed the Criterium du Dauphine.

It’s the ambiguity over the contents and the revelation about the absence of paperwork that, according to sports officials and legislators, is damaging the credibility of a team that trumpeted how it set new standards in cycling for winning cleanly through “marginal games.”

Everything was supposedly monitored, logged, and refined by the Team Sky experts – from riding routines to food and bedding. Just not medicines administered to its star rider a year before he won the 2012 Tour de France.

Team Sky maintains that it was a legal decongestant, Fluimucil, a brand name for a product containing acetylcysteine used for clearing mucus. U.K. Anti-Doping chief executive Nicole Sapstead, though, used a parliamentary committee hearing on Wednesday to reveal that the agency is investigating whether the product was in fact a banned corticosteroid called triamcinolone.

THE LEGALITY

For Wiggins, triamcinolone would be allowed in competition only if a therapeutic use exemption was obtained, as he did three times from 2011 to 2013 – just not for this race. If Wiggins was found to have used triamcinolone at the Criterium du Dauphine without a TUE he could have been banned and not been eligible to race and win the Tour de France the following year.

THE DOCTOR

Team doctor Richard Freeman should have logged Wiggins’ use of an unlicensed product – if it was used – to abide by British medical guidelines. Freeman was due to give evidence to the parliamentary committee on Wednesday but withdrew citing illness. UKAD said Freeman maintained records only on a laptop and didn’t upload the records to share with colleagues as required. Freeman also told investigators that his laptop was stolen in Greece in 2014.

THE LEADERSHIP

At the time the package was flown to the Criterium du Dauphine – carried by an official who said he didn’t ask what it contained – British Cycling was led by the man now in charge of the sport internationally. UCI President Brian Cookson is not available for interview, the organization said, and he did not respond to a tweet asking why British Cycling didn’t log the movement of medical supplies.

British Cycling and Team Sky shared staff, including performance chief Dave Brailsford at the time, and a medical storage facility. That contained “excessive” quantities of triamcinolone if only Wiggins used it or “quite a few people had a similar problem,” UKAD’s Sapstead said.

Jonathan Browning, who was appointed British Cycling chairman last month, said the organization’s medical services processes are being reviewed

“It’s unacceptable that those records were not complete and clear and available,” Browning said.

THE FUNDING

British Cycling is one of the country’s best-funded national bodies from the government and National Lottery. It received 30 million pounds ($37 million) in the Rio de Janeiro Games cycle and will collect another 26 million pounds from the UK Sport agency in the four-year cycle to fund its Tokyo program.

That cash could be at risk if UK Sport loses faith in British Cycling. The body has to abide by “actions plans … as a condition of grant,” UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholls said, adding that it was “shocking” to discover British Cycling dispensed drugs to Team Sky without a license as a wholesaler.

“I’m reassured that British Cycling has acted very quickly to say there will be a review of their medical management policy, actually an independent review of their medical management policy and their record keeping,” Nicholls said on Thursday at the Manchester velodrome where both Team Sky and British Cycling are based.

“What we heard in the select committee was not acceptable in terms of the standard of management of obviously delicate matters.”

THE HONORS

Britain’s Olympic cycling medals: Beijing 2008 (14), London 2012 (12), Rio 2016 (12).

Team Sky’s Tour de France winners: Bradley Wiggins (2012), Chris Froome (2013, 2015, 2016)

Little boy goes wild watching dad in Tour de France

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Bauke Mollema wasn’t the only one putting on a show at the Tour de France.

Mollema received plenty of support back home as his son went absolutely crazy watching his “papa” push to victory in Stage 15. As it is with siblings, Mollema’s oldest son, Julian, was forced to share the spot light as Thomas got emotional watching his dad finally earn a coveted stage win.

Amidst the blood, sweat and tears that have made up the 2017 Tour de France, Mollema’s adorable 2-year-old son, Thomas gave the internet something to smile about.

The Tour de France has “always been the most important race for [Mollema]” and his dreams came true when he had an impressive break away to solidify the first stage win of his career.

Clearly, Mollema was not the only one excited for his first victory.

 

Cavendish involved in nasty crash after elbow from Sagan

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VITTEL, France (AP) A nasty crash involving Mark Cavendish marred Tuesday’s fourth stage of the Tour de France, which was won by France’s Arnaud Demare in a chaotic sprint finish.

Replays appeared to show world champion Peter Sagan elbowing Cavendish, who was squeezed against the barriers to his right, out of the way. Cavendish slammed into the barriers and two other riders plowed over the British sprint specialist, a winner of 30 Tour stages.

Sagan, who crossed the line second, was later given a 30-second penalty that relegated him to 115th place on the stage. As a result, he dropped from second place in the overall standings to 15th.

“I get on with Peter well, but I don’t get … if he came across is one thing, but the elbow. I’m not a fan of him putting his elbow in me like that,” Cavendish said.

“A crash is a crash, I’d just like to know about the elbow, really,” Cavendish added. “I’d just like to speak to him about it.”

After the crash, Sagan went over to see how Cavendish was and patted him on the back, while the British rider showed him his wounds.

The Slovak said later he had apologized to Cavendish.

“It’s not nice to crash like that,” Sagan said.

“It’s the sprint. I just didn’t know that Mark is behind me, he’s coming from the right side,” Sagan added. “Mark was coming pretty fast from the back and after I just didn’t have time to react, to go left, and he just came (into) me and after into the fence.”

A medical team quickly ran out to treat Cavendish, jogging into the oncoming stream of riders to reach him.

When Cavendish was finally helped to his feet, his jersey was badly torn and blood was streaking down his side. Cavendish rode in with a teammate after treatment, gingerly holding his right arm close to his body, with his right hand in a bandage.

It’s already been a difficult year for Cavendish, who came down with mononucleosis caused by the Epstein-Barr virus in April.

Demare’s sprint victory ended a long wait for the home fans, with the previous French victory in a bunch sprint at the Tour being won by Jimmy Casper in Stage 1 in Strasbourg in 2006.

“It’s extraordinary, it’s marvelous,” said Demare, the French champion who finished second to Marcel Kittel in the mass sprint that concluded Stage 2.

There was another crash earlier that delayed Tour leader Geraint Thomas, but the Welshman retained the yellow jersey since it happened in the neutral zone near the stage finish.

Thomas leads Sky teammate and three-time champion Chris Froome by 12 seconds, with third-place Michael Matthews of Australia also 12 seconds back. Sagan is now 43 seconds adrift.

Thomas scraped his knee but said it was OK.

“I hit the deck but I’m fine,” Thomas said.

Demare clocked nearly five hours over the largely flat 207.5-kilometer (129-mile) route, which started and finished in two spa towns, Mondorf-les-Bains in Luxembourg and Vittel in France.

“We’ve been working with Arnaud for a long time on sprints,” said Marc Madiot, manager of Demare’s FDJ team. “Winning in the Tour is the best.”

After Sagan’s penalty, Alexander Kristoff moved up to second place in the stage, with Andre Greipel in third.

After starting in Mondorf, the hometown of 2010 Tour winner Andy Schleck, one of the first towns along the route was Schengen, where an agreement was signed in 1985 that enabled passport-free travel in mainland Europe.

Then it was a long, fairly straight slog through fields of grain, passing near the medieval city of Nancy into Vittel, home of the official mineral water supplier for the Tour.

It was the race’s third consecutive stage of more than 200 kilometers (125 miles) and when Guillaume van Keirsbulck, a Belgian with the Wanty team, attacked from the starting gun there was no reaction from the pack.

Van Keirsbulck quickly built a lead of more than seven minutes before being caught with less than 17 kilometers to go.

“A really hard day,” Van Keirsbulck said. “It’s not easy to stay in the front.”

Stage 5 on Wednesday concludes with the first serious climb of the Tour. The 160.5-kilometer (100-mile) leg begins in Vittel and winds its way to La Planche Des Belles Filles with a short but steep finishing ascent that features a leg-breaking 20-percent gradient in the final meters. All of the overall favorites should swing into action.