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)

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

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ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”