Sir Dave Brailsford: Team Sky package delivered to Sir Bradley Wiggins 'was decongestant'

Dave Brailsford
Sir Dave Brailsford was questioned by the DCMS panel for almost an hour on Monday afternoon

A medical package delivered to Team Sky on the final day of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine contained a decongestant, team boss Sir Dave Brailsford told MPs.

Team Sky's former head coach Shane Sutton confirmed the package was for Sir Bradley Wiggins, who won the event.

The team have been under pressure to reveal the contents of the package following a Daily Mail allegation.

And Brailsford revealed it contained Fluimucil, which is legal in sport and "administered on a regular basis".

Speaking to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee he added: "There is no justification for taking a medicine without a medical need. If there is a clear need then it would be appropriate."

Brailsford said he had been told by then-team doctor Richard Freeman that "it was Fluimucil for a nebuliser". Fluimucil is a decongestant used to clear mucus.

Earlier on Monday, British Cycling president Bob Howden said the governing body's senior management were "not aware" of doping products being contained in the package.

Howden said he was under instruction from UK Anti-doping (Ukad) not to comment about the package to the committee of MPs on Monday. It came a few hours before Brailsford was told by Ukad - which has been investigating the matter - that he could reveal its contents.

"It's a shame we are here but I'm quite happy to be sharing this information with you," Brailsford told the committee.

"We've put 46 medals on the board since the partnership with British Cycling and none of that has been done in anything other than the right way.

"We've got fantastic people and they don't deserve to have this shadow cast over them. It pains me."

Wiggins TUEs were 'clear recommendation'

Wiggins, a five-time Olympic champion, was granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to take anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone before the 2011 Tour de France, his 2012 Tour win and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.

His use of the drug, which treats allergies and respiratory issues, was released by Russian computer hackers known as Fancy Bears.

Wiggins' TUEs were approved by British authorities and cycling's world governing body the UCI, and there is no suggestion either the 36-year-old or former employers Team Sky have broken any rules.

TUEs allow the use of banned substances if athletes have a genuine medical need.

"With regards Bradley's first TUE it wasn't just the doctor on his own - we took Bradley to an independent consultant. It was a clear recommendation," said Brailsford.

"There's a triple lock for TUEs. The rider, the medic, the independent consultant. Then it goes to Wada [World Anti-Doping Agency] to sanction it - or not. It gives you a lot of confidence and I trust that system.

"It's about use and abuse. And we've never abused the system."

Former British Cycling technical director Sutton, who appeared in front of the panel before Brailsford, said he never asked for details about Wiggins' TUEs.

"I'm not a doctor. My job was outside that medical team, my job is to train the rider, their job is to make sure the riders are fit and healthy within the rules," said the Australian, who resigned from his position in April after being found to have used sexist language towards rider Jess Varnish. He was cleared of eight of nine charges against him.

"It is a clean team that has strict rules and doctors adhere to the policy - so why would I need to ask? Our record has been unblemished.

"These athletes have been tested more than anybody else in the world. I'm upset that you question the integrity of our team which is the greatest British team ever."

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Sir Dave Brailsford was interviewed by the BBC on 26 September


BBC sports editor Dan Roan

Finally we have been told what was in the notorious 'mystery package' that Team Sky had delivered to Sir Bradley Wiggins in France in 2011 - or at least what Sir Dave Brailsford says he has been told was in it by the team's former doctor.

Documentary evidence proving it was indeed Fluimucil is now crucial, although for now the sport will be relieved to hear that the contents of the Jiffy bag was nothing more controversial than a mere decongestant.

But questions remain:

  • Why has it taken so long for organisations that claim to be committed to transparency and accountability to get here?
  • The Daily Mail now reports that Brailsford tried to persuade them not to run the Jiffy bag story. Why go to such efforts when it merely contained a decongestant?
  • Will British Cycling or Team Sky now be able to provide a paper trail to back up the Fluimucil explanation?
  • Why was British Cycling president Bob Howden still unable to say what was in the jiffy bag months after the story broke, only for Brailsford to then reveal it?
  • Why were Brailsford's original explanations about the delivery not correct when all he had to do was ask former team medic Dr Richard Freeman?
  • Why send for a routine, innocuous drug from over 1,000 kilometres away when it could have been easily sourced in France?
  • Why did former coach Shane Sutton "authorise" the delivery of something the details of which he claims not to be aware of? And why did Wiggins' long-term mentor not know what medication his star cyclist was taking?
  • Why did Simon Cope, the British Cycling coach involved, not know what he was delivering - and why did he say that the package was not for Wiggins - when it turns out that it was?
  • And why was Wiggins taking a decongestant that apparently is not meant to be used by asthmatics (like him)?

Sadly for Team Sky and British Cycling, despite the belated clarity, for many critics the sense of suspicion will linger beyond today.