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Known Unknowns

Joux Plane 2012

Believe in Team Sky? Have faith in Dave Brailsford? Pro cycling ought to be as simple as riding a bike, of 200 riders trying to cross a white line first. Only it’s more complicated. This sophistication can satisfy as we learn about aerodynamics or geography, sometimes it’s tiresome as we trawl the UCI rulebook or WADA Code. As Team Sky’s TUE saga goes on, it’s not so much learning about new subjects, it’s more an exploration of the frontier of what we know and what we don’t.

Unwittingly we’re mired in epistemology, the study of knowledge itself and the debate what we know to be true. When Isaac Newton saw an apple fall from a tree he tried to explain it and his answer was the law of gravity, only his hypothesis was flawed and science still hasn’t resolved Newton, Einstein and gravitation. What’s this got to with cycling? Well there are many hypotheses doing the rounds at the moment but no definitive proof to either condemn or save Team Sky and this is creating a never-ending story that leaves everyone to judge for themselves.

Let’s look at the “mystery delivery”. Which one you might ask? First the delivery of testosterone patches to Doctor Richard Freeman at British Cycling’s HQ, sent in error from a supplier. Now things go wrong from time to time but of all the substances dispatched by accident it’s a banned one that’s long been used by dopers in parallel with cortisone. Another mystery is the reported 60-70 ampoules of Triamcinolone delivered to British Cycling, apparently 55 in quantity but still a oddity because if “the majority” were used to treat staff, that’s a lot of people requiring this potent drug and still leaves a sizeable quantity being injected into riders. There’s also the pattern of Bradley Wiggins and his entourage demanding a TUE prior to big targets, be it the Tour de France or the 2013 Tour of Britain and how this got to a point where it’s claimed Sky staff withholded a WADA password to prevent the TUE application. It’s OK under WADA rules to use Triamcinolone out of competition but since 2011 the UCI has had a “no needles” policy where injections are banned unless there’s no alternative. Even if used legally up to the edge of the rules it’s not great to admit and see how Team Sky get embarrassed by Michael Barry saying the powerful painkiller Tramadol was used in competition. Legal under WADA too but the image of riders racing while zorched on opiates isn’t good. Onto the most famous mystery delivery, the “Jiffy Bag” that was couriered planes, trains and automobiles to Wiggins: surely pro cycling’s biggest MacGuffin? It’s claimed it contained Fluimucil but there’s no paperwork proof. As revealed in the British parliamentary hearings, the UK authorities are investigating an allegation it could have contained Triamcinolone which if true would be the end of Team Sky (using it on the same day of a race is not permitted, ergo Wiggins is banned and stripped of the 2012 Tour de France and Olympic gold) but like the Fluimucil there are no records for the Triamcinolone use and the only notes have vanished on a stolen laptop.

Like it or not we’re stuck on questions of image, faith and trust. If you think the Jiffy Bag contained a banned substance then there’s currently no evidence to make you change your mind. If you think the Jiffy Bag contained a legal substance then there’s currently no evidence to make you change your mind. The absence of conclusive proof leaves people to judge for themselves and argue the toss. This alone is problematic for Sky, both the team entity and the corporate sponsor, as they’ve lost control of the story. Even they, as Brailsford’s letter reads, are left to “believe” there was no “anti-doping rule violation by Team Sky at the 2011 Dauphiné” linguistic grey amid the black and white letter text:

Sky are under siege and to compound their woes face trouble on the inside with a report of a rider mutiny. Some riders have been tweeting supportive messages for Brailsford but this is a sideshow, it’s not about them. While the messages dispel the impression of a total loss of confidence some are keeping a tally of who has expressed support and who hasn’t which simply embeds the splits and presumably no Sky rider is going to chat about this subject. But the point isn’t whether Brailsford has the support of the team bus, it’s whether the media, fans and media believe him and by extension them. Many don’t and last weekend saw the proverbial camel sustain a serious spinal injury and a chorus of journalists calling for Brailsford’s resignation.

How many straws have been loaded on our camel? The current woes are part of a continuum. See the questions and contradictions over the “Jiffy Bag” story such as Simon Cope was there for Emma Pooley or he wasn’t and he was bringing back bikes or he wasn’t. There are other cases such the explanations given regarding the departure of some riders and staff when Team Sky implemented its “zero tolerance” which stretched credibility and were not universally believed by the UK press as the screengrab above hints. The refusal to join the MPCC. Hiring Geert Leinders.

In the end we’re no wiser. There are some with great certainty who assert Sky are “UK Postal” while others believe they’re as clean as the driven snow atop the Stelvio. Both assertions are surely an act of faith, people may believe they’re right but like Newton it’s a hypothesis rather than a proof.

The saga had been going in circles. Readers have been asking for thoughts on Sky’s troubles and it felt like the last piece on this topic could be copy-pasted each time Sky have tripped up following the Fancy Bears TUE hack. The team pledged “to try and demonstrate that it is possible to cycle clean and compete at the highest level” only these demonstrations keep appearing ex post: a reaction to events rather than a pre-emptive statement of principles. The latest round of revelations, be they parliamentary or press, is quickly eroding public trust because the story’s broken out of cycling forums and gone front page but if the noise is growing as we’re still stuck exploring what we know and what we think we know. Maybe the UK authorities, parliamentary or anti-doping, will pin things down and maybe next Sunday’s newspapers will have more? This story will roll on.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • J Evans Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:12 pm

    As you say, it comes down to belief now.
    And you have to have a huge amount of blind faith to ignore all the different things that you mention – both in this and your previous article.
    (The list of ‘discrepancies’ is now too big to go into – but you could have a good 20 bullet points of problems: even down to small things like ‘If they managed to wipe Freeman’s stolen computer remotely [I’ve no idea if that’s possible – does anyone know?], why could they not retrieve the data from it?’ – again, I haven’t the faintest clue of the answer.)
    I think for those who still believe it comes down to nationalism and fandom. Nothing more.
    (If these people saw Nibali win the Dauphine twice and each time afterwards he claimed his breathing was so bad that he needed a corticosteroid just before the Tour, would they be fine with that?)
    I think a good lawyer would tear this lot apart. How can they say that they had 55 doses of triamcinolone and then expect people not to ask questions? (Or to believe that it was for Gladys in Accounts Receivable.)
    (And how does the President of the UCI justify coming out and saying that it’s all fine?)
    Unless we get answers, most people are going to be left wondering ‘Why do so many riders improve so much when they get to Sky?’
    Even if Brailsford resigned today, the bigger questions are still there:
    Who took what drugs, how often and for what reason?
    Who prescribed these drugs and who else knew?
    Drugs still dominate cycling – whether that be their legal use or even just speculation about them. (I don’t for a moment think that Sky are the only ones behaving like this.)
    And that won’t change until doctors are neutral – supplied by the UCI or something (I’m sure others have better ideas) – and not affiliated with teams.

    • OJT Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:31 pm

      Agreed JE. Balanced post and a balanced response. Every time a ‘fact’ is provided by Sky or British Cycling, it triggers half a dozen more questions, most of them obvious. I don’t know anyone who has changed their mind about Team Sky’s cleanliness and however long the saga continues I doubt that will change.

      • CA Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:43 pm

        Exactly, as soon as they said the drugs were for their staff I thought, “game over”, Elvis has left the building, this is done. There’s no return from this point. Anyone who was on the fence absolutely cannot have any faith that Sky is 100% clean.

    • CA Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:39 pm

      Haha, Gladys in accounts receivable!

      Imagine how many files I could get through if I took EPO every morning with my coffee!

    • S Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 5:11 pm

      Just on the minor point of remotely wiping a laptop. There are many off the shelf programs that can do this – find my mac, Prey, loJack, etc. I’d recommend laptop owners look into installing one or other.

      Some (but not all) also support remote data retrieval. but where I have worked it has always been common practice to immediately wipe data if the chance arises – the assumption being that the risk of data falling into the wrong hands over-rides the loss of any non-backed up data. This obviously will depend on the type of data involved, but I’d have thought medical records would fall into the ‘wipe first’ category.

      • J Evans Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 8:06 pm


      • Megi Thursday, 9 March 2017, 10:08 am

        I know of an occasion when someone wiped a mobile phone at long distance by activating software on it. The owner was a drug dealer and as the phone was by then already in the hands of the police, detectives watched the process with interest and then went in search of the person who had done it.

  • Todd Norbury Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:16 pm

    Something about a fish rotting from the head.

    • OJT Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:44 pm

      Il pesce puzza dalla testa

  • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:27 pm

    A quick note to there’s no point holding the trial of Team Sky via blog comments, it’s not the place and probably something that will go nowhere with people on each side probably unable to convince each other and instead making people angry. Comments could be turned off to save bandwidth.

    • CA Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:48 pm

      Good point – and to avoid having any comments of mine zapped, I’ll bow out from any further comments!

      Thanks for laying this article in a clear fashion for us, it saved all of us having to summarise the issue ourselves.

  • Dave. Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:34 pm

    I was undecided about this issue, now I’m not so sure.

  • DJW Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:39 pm

    Sky have spent time and care trying to produce a definitive defense. That so many questions are not answered simply means that the team does not have the facts which would establish some sort of innocence. How sad.

    With all this we should not forget that many teams employ numbers of doubtful staff and methods, and we would be foolish to accept thier claimed general reform and repentance (as CIRC indicated). Brailsford & co are in that same mire now rather than better.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:50 pm

    Would I buy a used car from Team Sky? err….NO. Walk away. What a mess and I wonder what the fallout will be, a considerable drop in funding for UK cycling, sometime, someday.

    • Vitus Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 6:25 pm

      After the TTT incident today I wouldn’t buy a used wheel either fom SKY.

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 6:32 pm

        Quick repair, bit of Tcut and fleabay it! Bargain.

    • hoh Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 7:21 pm

      Wise choice. The Skoda ads aired each year with the Tour has long established that DSs are terrible drivers and team car takes quite a bit of beating each year. Extensive gearshift at low speed probably wouldn’t help to keep the drive train in good condition either.

  • ChasM Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 4:56 pm

    Inrng, thanks for biting the bullet, this is a helpful summing up of the situation.

    From my reading of the Sky letter, the 55 ampoules of triamcinolone were used by Team Sky riders, staff at British Cycling and Team Sky – and also in Freeman’s private practice. Heaven knows in what proportions, of course, but I could imagine quite a lot went to the private patients.

    • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 5:14 pm

      Does Dr Freeman have other private sports clients – I would guess that there’s a probability he could have. Footballers, runners, who knows? Of course, we don’t. Yet.

      As Inrng has said, for every claim there could be a counter claim.
      It is better to (try to) withhold judgement and see what comes of it all.
      I despise the trial by internet aspect though, the electronic equivalent of the mob of yelling villagers with burning torches.

      • S Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 6:54 pm

        He worked in the past for Bolton Wanderers. What appears to be his linkedin also says he worked for the European Ryder Cup team, on the European and Ladies’ PGA tours and in rallying with Ford (who folded in 2012). So its possible his private practice included other athletes.

        Several golfers have tested positive for the use of glucocorticosteroids (like Triamcinolone) according to past WADA AD testing reports and there is some concern about their use in golf.

        Against that, glucocorticosteroids are a recognised treatment for a number of injuries that affect golfers, Justin Rose had a TUE for prednisolone and google tells me that Triamcinolone can be used to treat golfer’s elbow.

        So it is possible that Freeman was legitimately or illegitimately treating/doping other sports people with the 55 Triamcinolone vials that were ordered. However, I guess medical confidentiality rules would prevent anyone revealing that, unless the sports people in question came forward (which would be suicidal at the moment).

        • CM Thursday, 9 March 2017, 11:40 am

          With the BMA stance on failure to keep medical records I would say he could measure his future medical practitioner’s career with an egg-timer.

          • hoh Thursday, 9 March 2017, 1:31 pm

            Not sure what’s the BMA policy on electronic backup though. Sky’s rather primitive Dropbox was already one step beyond British Cycling requirement at the time.

            On the other hand, there’s the matter of paper record keeping. Are doctors supposed to have paper records on top of electronic ones? Sure, paper records could be discarded once they are electronically archived. But does BMA has a paper record policy? It’s hard to imagine they rely on scanned digital archive as digital scans are pretty open to tampering.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 5:15 pm

      It says the majority did not go to the riders so of 55 the amount that went to the riders is 27 of fewer. We don’t know.

      Note that the “it’s for staff” line has been used in the past by various teams when banned substances / methods have been discovered. This tells us nothing about Sky but it will ring alarm bells for those who remember such stories, eg US Postal and Actovegin.

      • Nick Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 8:21 pm

        We know the number is at least 3, given that that’s how many Wiggins had TUEs for.

        I have a suspicion that the number may be higher than 27 if you include BC riders, as I suspect that Brailsford is now differentiating between the 2 organisations more than he did at the time.

        This is a master class in how not to respond to allegations, by the way. The letters produced today might have been helpful if provided earlier. Instead they got side-tracked into blaming Emma Pooley.

      • Larrick Thursday, 9 March 2017, 1:48 am

        And there’s another point about believability. I understood that in the US Postal saga, some was used for staff which is no doubt where they got the idea from to pin it all on non rider use. In Sky’s case, some internal use to treat staff says nothing about the reality of all usage one way or the other.

    • hoh Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 7:27 pm

      And if DB’s letter is to be believed, that 55’s been spread over a four year period. Wondering where the 70 ampoules number came from? Are the two batch actually the same thing and someone somewhere on the line mis-quote the data or was that 70 British Cycling purchase on top of the Teamsky purchase (be it the 13-14 that year.

  • Bemused Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 5:31 pm

    “it’s whether the media, fans and media believe him and”

    Small mistake there. Thanks for an excellent synopsis of a messy situation!

    More importantly, only a few more sleeps until MSR… 🙂

  • noel Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 5:33 pm

    Thank you for that.
    it’s fascinating watching and waiting for Froome’s next move – I wonder if G’s tweet was an insiders effort to drag him out… I’d guess he’s thinking about the Tour and that daily press conference for the yellow jersey – what a mess, made more messy by the fact that Dave B looks to be attempting to tough it out.

    I’d imagine Sky are loving all the added exposure, they are a tough skinned bunch.

    • DJW Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 6:32 pm

      DB trying to tough it out? Sky would surely push him if they had a better solution. He can’t last but, as things stand, who – competent, clean and available mid-season – would want it.

      • ZigaK Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 7:28 pm

        That is a good question!
        Nicole Cooke? She seems to have the knowledge and the right antidoping stance. Also no relations to the current sky structure.
        Chris Boardman?

        • Anonymous Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 7:36 pm

          Why would Nicole want her hands stained with Murdoch trash?

          • ZigaK Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 8:12 pm

            Just brainstorming, not very good at it.

        • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 7:38 pm

          I can’t see Sky replacing Brailsford with an outsider, besides if he has to go then there are questions over the whole team so I suspect they stay with Brailsford as much as possible. They contract runs out at the end of 2018 anyway I seem to remember.

          • DJW Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 8:18 pm

            An insider would be unlikely to convince those, like me, who consider the problem, after several years of regime, to be systemic and deep-rooted and not individual. Whether DB is a bad apple or just a incompetent apple – though maybe he was just not up to controlling other Sky bad apples – change won’t come from the inside. The problem is that cultural change will take time – without TdF wins! Will Sky tolerate that?

          • Tovarishch Thursday, 9 March 2017, 10:14 am

            Sky, together with 21st Century Fox own Team Sky, don’t they? It is not sponsorship, as such, so there is no contract.

          • CM Friday, 10 March 2017, 3:38 pm

            A point to make about (riders’ attitudes towards) Brailsford’s continued tenure is this: the Parliamentary Committee that has continually stoked the controversy is not a nice arena. It is run by politicians who are professionals in outrage. Very few respondents go in and come out of there unscathed. Two who have been mauled by such a committee are Rupert Murdoch and his son James. It would not be at all surprising if they view Brailsford’s plight at the hands of such a committee very sympathetically and not at all in the way that the uninitiated might. Of course, bike riders just ride bikes but as professionals under contract it might be politic not to knock Brailsford and to have a care for the likely still raw sensitivity of their paymasters, James in particular.

      • J Evans Thursday, 9 March 2017, 9:34 am

        Obvious. Bjarne Riis.

        Ignore the past, think of the huge improvement in tactics.

  • Kit Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 6:13 pm

    Any theories on what Froome thinks or is planning to do about all this?
    He’s been quite vocal about disowning/disapproving some controversies, but also had a TUE (admittedly didn’t hide/lie about it in a book though) and was alongside Wiggins for some of these controversies. His only notable results have been with this same team and with British Cycling. How much can he distance himself?

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 7:44 pm

      Difficult but he’s never been close with Wiggins and now he’s got plenty to lose. Wiggins might be at home counting his money and avoiding injuries but Froome will soon be showing up at the Tour of Catalonia with a lot of questions which could follow him to Romandie, the Dauphiné and even the Tour if he can’t put some distance between himself and this.

    • hoh Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 7:50 pm

      Wouldn’t be surprised if Froome and Stannard’s silence is part of teamSky’s PR strategy.

      Of the three Brits (Froome, GT & Stannard) that counts at Sky, GT is most media friendly and would likely generate most buzz by virtue of being the funniest of the trio. He also appears to be most enthusiastic of the trio.

      However, he’s also the least likely to achieve his season goal at Giro (that’s why Landa will be co-leading Sky there). If Froome has 80% chance at wining the Tour, Stannard would have 30% chance win a big Classic this year, G’s chance of winning the Giro is merely 10%.

      So it makes sense to put G out there supporting DB with the other two distance themselves from the mess. G will generate most response whilst the risk of the involvement tarnish his achievement in the season is minimal.

      If Stannard win something in the Classics, or Froome get the Tour or even Tour Vuelta double both would benefit from the mess at his moment. The hope of Sky is that general public would then ralley behind the two quite likeable leds who come off relatively clean off this scandal. They can then put this mess behind them.

      The reason I say this is the strange silence of Stannard on twitter. Sure, he tweets about 3 times a year. But his previous tweets bear the unmistaken tune of a team PR/Media staff. If the “100% behind DB” messages are from the management rather than riders, wouldn’t it make sense for the team PR/Media staff just to tweet it through Stannard’s account then?

      The only problem with this theory is that it would imply TeamSky PR actually knows how to do their work. A quality they failed to demonstrate so far.

      • Cameron Thursday, 9 March 2017, 4:31 am

        It’s an interesting theory but I’m not really sure there’s much to it. Can’t comment on Stannard, but the latest Cycling Podcast went into the whole Sky thing as you’d expect and in particular on Froome. They seem to think that Froome is a bit of a loner on the team, not particularly close to management and still slightly miffed about being told to hold back for Bradley Wiggins at the 2012 Tour among other things. So he doesn’t really seem overflowing with love for Brailsford, and there was even talk that he’s been working behind the scenes to try and get him out and someone less tainted with this scandal in.

        Because on the off-chance that Froome is actually riding clean (& I won’t go into that, it all comes down to not much more than opinion & guesses), you can certainly understand why this whole farce would be annoying to him, as his name obviously gets dragged through the mud as the best known rider on the team among the wider British public.

        • hoh Thursday, 9 March 2017, 1:55 pm

          Well, the starting point of my theory is based on the following observation on Stannard:

          1) He’s supposed to be a royal member of Sky. He’s there since the beginning and a graduate of the BC track programme.

          2) He’s a hard working GT domestique and Classic leader. He seldom show his view on anything and prefers to let the leg talk. Neither does he appear to be the type that would openly contradict company line.

          3) He’s twitter is practically ran by Sky staff.

          So if the show of support to DB is a top down initiative, it’s hard to imagine his twitter account wasn’t utilised.

          As for Froome, again he doesn’t seem to be the type to contradict company line if message, being too polite (observation of Ms Kimmerage). But well, what do I know. Maybe he is the passive-aggressive type.

          He was trying to build his own cohort by inviting teammates to join him on his private training camps one at a time. He also made sure to show that they are having a good time on twitter. Thomas just came back from one, Kenny Elissonde was invited early on in the year, Wout Poels definitely at some point. Maybe he was trying to turn their royalties on those long rides.

          • Red Hare Friday, 10 March 2017, 3:01 pm

            ‘Maybe he was trying to turn their royalties on those long rides.’

            Typo I know but made me chuckle. “G, you owe me for that joke you made at my expense when Barguil nudged you into that ditch”

  • Matt Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 6:20 pm

    Here’s the conclusion for me: I’m done with cycling. That is, professional cycling. It’s the same story over and over and over. Add to that either the incompetence or the corruption at the UCI and where does this sport go next? The future is not bright.

    From now on the only cycling I’m going to watch or read about is my own.

    Best wishes to all.

  • BC Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 6:44 pm

    Well, looks like I am alone BUT.

    A lot of hot air, unsubstantiated views, incorrect interpretations and no proof of wrong doing by SKY or BC is where we appear to be. That will not unfortunately stop the media continuing their witch hunt – they smell the possibility of blood. Of course there are questions about the employment of certain doctors and staff, non existent/lost paper trails and the purchase of banned substances, even if they were returned. It would be precisely the same in any team under this sort of intense and continuous scrutiny.

    My prediction for what it’s worth is that no proof of wrongdoing will be uncovered. The sponsor however will decide this hostile environment is not one in which it wishes to operate, and withdraw its generous sponsorship.

    Maybe only then will the sloths and journalists who are certain they were onto a story be happy.

    All in all a very sad reflection on where the sport is today.

    • Morten Reippuert Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 9:03 pm


      Interesting piece by Paul Kimage.

      The Pinotti comments should have alerted everyone.

      The sudden ability to compete by Wiggens and Frome should ringe all kinds of alarm bells.

    • Chris Thursday, 9 March 2017, 12:15 am

      BC – I agree, no proof of wrongdoing will be uncovered. SKY were/are very clever in playing ‘by the rules’ just as many other teams i suspect. We shouldn’t be quick to judge, other than maybe on an ethical standpoint – similar to LA it’s the constant media message that they were/are clean that is more potentially damaging than their misdemeanors. The unprecedented success of the team has inspired a nation to ride their bike. It would be shame for it to have all been a house of cards.

      While other teams are less vocal about their methods or marginal gains, i’m sure they are very familiar with the lines no-one should cross, and with the amount of money (or livelihoods) at stake, it would be quite easy to do whatever it takes up to that boundary to seek an advantage.

    • Anonymous Thursday, 9 March 2017, 1:57 am

      You’re not on your own I suspect in those views. Rather it’s more likely that those that agree are less likely to comment compared to those who prefer their own hypothesis. One look at CN tells you the uphill struggle faced to win a fact (as it stands) against the alternative facts world of the most voracious commenters.

    • Red Hare Friday, 10 March 2017, 3:22 pm

      I have much the same sentiment – no organisation keep records well, even those with budgets and regulatory requirements to keep records. The NHS is meant to keep patient records properly, but doesn’t, as I found out to my personal irritation the other day.

      I can’t help thinking that many people with adverse reactions don’t pay enough attention to Brailsford and Sky. They’ve been quite clear all along that what they mean by zero tolerance is zero tolerance for rule breaking. “They’ll go right up to the line” as the Cycling Podcast puts it. And, as far as we know at the moment, they still haven’t crossed the line and so deserve the benefit of the doubt.

  • Sir Isaac Newton Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 7:06 pm

    Up betimes and what do I find this fine morning? Yea verily, I am adduced in ye blog of ye enthusiast for the bicycle known as Mr.INRNG.

    I thank ye very kindly, sir, for the attention although, if ye will permit me to say so, truly a scientific hypothesis is so much more than an assertion, a mere act of faith, a belief that one is right. The very essence of the scientific method is testability, the property of being able to be shown as either true or false by experimentation and observation.

    In this regard & in this instance perhaps ye may allow me the privilege of making again the observation that I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of people.

    I remain, sir,

    Your most humble Servant to command

    Is. Newton.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 7:26 pm

      Ha, one of the stranger comments and I await a Germanic response from Karl Popper on the subject of falsification. The problem is not much of us can test our hypotheses at the moment, let alone put questions to Sky.

      • weeclarky Thursday, 9 March 2017, 5:23 pm

        well, since we’re going that way… I didn’t think I’d be writing this on a cycling blog!
        ‘Science’ has no problem with Einstein’s gravitation – it’s a perfectly great (and beautiful) theory, confirmed by all experiments so far. The problem is merging it with quantum mechanics to give a unified quantum gravity theory – but that’s a long way from normal science relating to testable theories.

        On topic, I find the whole thing very disappointing. I’ve been a big fan of wiggo and watched every day when he won the tour. Along with everyone else I never thought a brit would win. I grew up watching Fignon/Lemond, and was assured a job as a pro cyclist was impossible – hence the astrophysics knowledge instead ;( – or 😉 i suppose. I buy their TUE reasoning – as someone who has had severe allergies blow up like he described, and being bedridden for weeks from them, I can imagine asking for something legal that would knock them on the head. Who wouldn’t? At face value, it worked a treat, and presumably allergy researchers should be asking why this hasn’t been used for other people. But now, testosterone patches etc… oh shit.

        • Anonymous Thursday, 9 March 2017, 7:00 pm

          You lie in bed for weeks, he wins the Tour de France. Well, I guess that’s just how life is sometimes, don’t we all have such situations…? Oh, wait a second, am right back with you (You, hey, you, what you’re staring at? There’s nothing to see here, move on!). Ok, here I am again. As I said: Celavie, right?

        • Anonymous Friday, 10 March 2017, 10:45 am

          ‘… presumably allergy researchers should be asking why this hasn’t been used for other people’.

          Those researchers – like the doctors – know that this drug is only used to treat those with severe breathing difficulties.

          Presumably, the question here is not why this isn’t used for other people – we know that: it’s far too dangerous a drug to be used as a regular allergy treatment (as a doctor, you don’t use a drug that is more deleterious to health than the ailment).

          The question is why this doctor, who was being paid by Wiggins, prescribed this treatment against all normal practice and against NICE guidelines.

          • Nick Friday, 10 March 2017, 12:36 pm

            It’s worth recalling that NICE’s guidelines to the NHS explicitly take account of cost effectiveness, which wouldn’t be as relevant to a private patient.

          • Anonymous Friday, 10 March 2017, 1:20 pm

            Find any guidelines from any country that says that this is how you use corticosteroids.

    • Francisco Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 11:11 pm

      Sir Newton, how nice of you to drop by! Stay around a bit longer, you will find things inspiring with so much stuff in free fall these days. Sky included.

    • Chris Thursday, 9 March 2017, 12:09 am

      The penny truly dropped on this one.

    • Wm Shakespeare, esq Thursday, 9 March 2017, 11:53 am

      I know not why your speech is of my time not thine,
      But know’st thou that the word “ye” seems not fine?
      For in truth, “ye” has “the” meaning to itself,
      And is not you, nor me, nor other pronoun else.

      • noel Thursday, 9 March 2017, 1:51 pm

        William – is this playing out as a comedy or a tragedy – I’m not quite sure

        • gabriele Thursday, 9 March 2017, 2:03 pm

          If Marx (Karl) shows up, he could give you the best answer for that 😉
          [no doubt that Groucho, too, might have something interesting to say on the subject]

          • CM Friday, 10 March 2017, 4:56 am

            Wiggins seems to have been taking the Harpo option
            Brailsford might be closer to Groucho – “You can leave in a taxi or in a huff. If that’s too quick, take a minute and a huff”.

    • J Evans Thursday, 9 March 2017, 11:59 am

      Some of us still remember your extensive dabblings with alchemy and the occult.

      • gabriele Thursday, 9 March 2017, 1:45 pm

        Don’t you dare cast any shadow of doubt on Egyptian mysteries!

    • Ozgur Nevres Thursday, 9 March 2017, 6:53 pm

      I was going to write the same thing, but then I saw Sir Isaac Newton’s perfect reply 🙂 Salutes, Sir!

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 7:38 pm

    Its all a car crash happening in slow motion, one car into another into another, like the Dukes Of Hazzard, only more tragic.

  • JC Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 7:57 pm

    I am afraid that the attitude of Team Sky towards the rest of the world especially in their early years has lead many to want bring them down to earth. There has also been all the “marginal gains”, “brilliant management strategy” PR guff that has been exposed for what it is, PR guff. There is also an element of gossip here some of these stories and allegations have been repeated on very little or no actual evidence. The actual enquiry is yet to publish.

    As is well known for the first few year’s of the team’s existence their actual achievements did not match all the hype and big money. Outside of the Tour and its build up races, successes had been thin on the ground until fairly recently, the mess up at the Vuelta with Wiggins & Froome, the never ending tales of woe at the Giro etc etc. This was, in large part, down to a lack of experience of the team behind the athletes. All the money in the world cant buy experience.

    That same lack of experience and muddled management practices seem to have led to the current mess. As far as any publicly available information goes there is no evidence that any rules were broken.

    It does seem if Wiggo’s TUEs were perhaps ill advised and the system needs reforming (something that seems to have happened). However there is no suggestion that anything outside of the rules as they existed at the time was undertaken. It is perfectly likely that a number of other riders were using similar TUEs and it is not public knowledge (dont forget this all started off as an attempt to distract the media from the industrial scale drug cheating that was taking place in Russia, something that seems likely to have affected Russian based cycling teams too)

    It seems very unlikely that anything can be proved one way or the other about the jiffy bag. It does take some leap of the imagination to think that illegal substances would be carried around by admin staff, through various security searches. I know not popular in the media and the court of social media but unless things can be proved otherwise there must be a presumption of innocence.

    A big mess, gleefully taken up by the media and others, potentially avoidable if there had been openness and and fewer glib comments in front of parliamentary committees but no actually evidence of wrong doing.

    Triamcinolone and similar drugs are a common treatment for arthritic and other joint conditions (tennis elbow etc). They are injected directly into the joint to reduce inflammation. Given that the doctor in question was clearly someone who deals with these sort of complaints it would make sense he used them regularly. I can see that as many people who work for outfits like British Cycling, Team Sky etc are ex athletes they would suffer more than most with joint problems. Hence the need for corticosteroids. Personally I would think it good management practice to ensure that treatment of athletes and non athletes was kept completely separate but it does seem that things were not as well managed as they should have been. No evidence of wrong doing more incompetence and complacency.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 8:04 pm

      When you say “there is no suggestion that anything outside of the rules as they existed at the time was undertaken”, surely that’s exactly the allegation that has been made and UK Anti-Doping are investigating, as was revealed in the parliamentary session last week by the UKAD boss? We’ll see what this investigation comes to, presumably it’s going to take weeks/months.

      • JC Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 8:56 pm

        Perhaps I should have slightly rephrased that, maybe – besides a currently unsubstantiated allegation there is no suggestion….. ( as far as we know there is only one allegation of wrong doing )

        I agree we should await the outcome of the inquiry perhaps they have real evidence though if that evidence existed I suspect it would have leaked by now.

        The problem is not so much the allegation but the way it has been handled, especially that it has taken so long for Team Sky to put together a proper response. I find it very odd that Dave Brailsford would turn up at a public enquiry without having a very firm handle on exactly what happened and when, however embarrassing that may have been. The questions were very predictable, perhaps less time spent on social media more time on getting the facts straight.

  • Håvard Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 10:11 pm

    Donald Rumsfield/Errol Morris reference?

    • OJT Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 10:43 pm

      Ha yes! You know Errol Morris also made a film called ‘The Thin Blue Line’ which was Team Sky’s first motto.

      • Håvard Friday, 10 March 2017, 9:15 am


  • Othersteve Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 10:32 pm

    Perhaps as a bit of perspective might serve us here. Many fans are very late to reaching the decision to not accept alternative facts. We all want our super hero’s to be clean. As previous LA fans can attest.

    I trust the UK will sort this one out.

    Thanks Inrg. tight synopsis

  • MH Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 11:11 pm

    Regarding the contents of the jiffy bag, the explanation given in the open letter from Team Sky, although plausible, but not 100% convinced (if it were to contain Fluimucil). If the package contained Triamcinolone instead, would there be an advantage to administering straight after the race, rather than wait until midnight/next day when it could be given legally out of competition (if my facts are correct)?

    • Anonymous Thursday, 9 March 2017, 12:56 am

      Your thought process shows exactly the flaw with all these thought processes. Like I have read above about Freeman “I’d imagine he has much patients and I’d imagine they need much of this or that”. Yeah, that is, what it is imagination. Not even derived from any facts, just imagination. And on top of that imagination come other imaginations, till somewhere along the line it becomes fact. That is very, very dangerous. Even more so, when people have absolute no doubt about themselves being the ones who know what is right and what is wrong (not meaning you with that!).

      You start at the point that you think, they give thought to the question, if an action of theirs is right or wrong or dangerous or not dangerous. In a novel or film, they would maybe do something like that, but this is real life. Either they don’t dope, then there was nothing wrong in that bag. Or they dope and then there is no reason to believe, that such a question or thought was even on their minds. You’d think, that when they decided to dope and flew medication across borders and spent money on that, they don’t worry about such things like “oh, if I wait 3 hours, it’ll all be good.” Why should they?

      No, they just do, what is most practical, because to them it is normal. It is their life, their normal life. Just like no doper before or after them worries about such questions (and in the end they all think they are smarter than anybody). They already have decided on that course, they already are commited. No, what they would think about is: The next race they have to be, to put the shoes in the baggage, to give rider so and so his drugs, before he gets his massage and that the food here was horrible. Doping belongs to their work, like other stuff. All the psychological work (finding “reasons” why it is ok to dope and all that other stuff) already happened. They don’t go around their life thinking nonstop about it.

      And, after all, they have a tue to have their back. That keeps them calm, just as the fact, that the political powers need sky to be a success. Not in the world would they think anybody would ever look at the tue or anything they did. And nobody would have, if it weren’t for the bears!!! This is important to keep in mind.

      It took 10 years to bring down armstrong, For years he diffused all doubts with scapegoating the french (they’re jealous), journalists (they just want a story), other riders (they are just shit and can’t stand that we do so good with all our modern new age tactics and technics and good ol’ american character). Even after the arbitration case, millions still believed in armstrong. The uci president called everybody out, who doubted him. The stereotypes were: 1. Don’t you think someone would have said something by now, if anything would be true about these allegations? There are so many people involved, surely one would have by now talked (eh, no, I don’t think so). 2. He is the most checked and tested athlete of the world, if not the universe, don’t you think by now they would have found something, if there would be anything (eh, no I don’t think so).

      I think my point of view above, about their mindset, is right, but – it could also be totally wrong and you could be right. I am aware of that. And as long as we keep this in mind, all this “assuming” is somehow ok. But many comments seem to me to forget the simple fact, that, what they imagine, is just their imagination. What they assume, is also nothing more than their imagination, It is human letting the fantasy run wild and assume this mindset or that mindset or this logic or that logic (as if people would be straightforward or logical). But although it is human, it is neither helpful, nor does it bring us closer to a truth. Indeed, it does the opposite.

      As for me personal: I made my mind up long ago. Just as was with armstrong, the palmares of wiggins and froome and their career speaks louder for me than anything: They are not real. If you watched enough races, saw enough riders, read enough palmares, it is clear as the sky to see. That someone even has doubts about that, is strange to me. But that is my personal belief, after decades of watching races. It is my opinion, which I believe to be true, based on my knowledge and experience. This is something totally different than saying: This is the truth, I know it. If there would have been any point, that would have explained that anamoly in the palmares and the way they ride, if there would have been a different possible explanation, I would have looked at my opinion again and if it would have satisfied me, I would have changed my opinion. But the opposite was true, my opinion just became ever more firm with everything they said and did the past years. Yet, again: it is only my opinion, no fact.

      With the current case: There are so many things now, that we are asked to “believe”, it is mindboggling. Just think about everything we had, from missed test, to the heart rate thing, to Barry’s book, to tues, to “it is for my granny”.. oh, no, sorry, my bad: it is for the stuff, to testosterone patches…. It is very easy, don’t be fooled in thinking it is complicated: if they would be transparent and had nothing to hide, they wouldn’t be in this situation. I think there are some teams in the peloton, who’d have no problem to show what they do in 10min and clear such a situation up. But they just fall deeper every day.

      I just hope the journalists keep the pressure on and finally a rider comes fore as whistleblower. If not, we will never find out the truth, just as we would have never found out the truth about postal, if it wouldn’t have been for a serious investigation. I am not vindicative, I don’t want them to “pay”, I just want it to stop. The only thing, that bothers me, is, that I think it is just sad for all the people, that have been robbed of chances, dreams and joy.

      One thing that bothers me much, much more now, because I don’t think sky will come out of this in the long run, is that cookson must go. He MUST go! (I just remembered today, how he came out last year, saying Astana is so dirty, the WHOLE team must stop. Immediately! Just for his own people saying: “Eh, no, I don’t think so”. Unbelievable that man). He has damaged cycling so much. Hopefully not beyond repair.

      • J Evans Friday, 10 March 2017, 9:58 am

        I totally agree on Cookson – can’t see much improvement on McQuaid, even.

        If he wants to work against doping, why not take on the MPCC rules on cortisol levels. Seems easy enough to do and would rule out at least some out of competition corticosteroid use.

        But his only aim is winning that next election, like every politician.

  • AK Thursday, 9 March 2017, 12:25 am

    Newtonian mechanics is good enough to get to the moon and back, you don’t need any relativistic corrections for that. Whatever it was that Team Sky did, it got them to the moon. Whether they will make it back remains to be seen.

    • Nick Thursday, 9 March 2017, 12:55 am

      and as they don’t seem to have broken any rules as yet, we’re in the realm of moral relativity?

  • Albert Einstein Thursday, 9 March 2017, 1:32 am

    It’s a common misconception that my theory of General Relativity proved Newtonian gravitation “wrong”. That paints a misleading picture of the way physics progresses. All physical theories are “effective theories” with a limited domain of applicability to explain a certain set of observations. As scientific knowledge progresses, deeper theories with a broader domain of applicability may arise. Certainly, it was discovered that Newtonian gravitation could not explain certain unusual observations (famously, the precession of the perihelion of Mercury). But Newtonian gravitation is best thought of a special case of General Relativity, an approximation that is valid in a more limited domain – when gravitational fields are not too strong.

    General Relativity itself is also an effective theory. It has yet to be reconciled with quantum mechanics, so some even deeper theory probably awaits discovery. But whatever that deeper theory is, we are completely certain that it must be consistent with the incredibly accurate predictions of General Relativity in the macroscopic domain where quantum effects may be ignored. So, in the same way that Newtonian gravitation is an effective theory that is often a valid and useful approximation of General Relativity, so General Relativity is an effective theory that is a valid and useful approximation of some deeper as-yet unknown theory of quantum gravity.


  • Strictly Amateur / The GCW Thursday, 9 March 2017, 2:02 am

    I confess, I’ve not read all the above. & I concede otherwise.

    However, there are different levels for cheats. Some try to blend in… Some come out with a punching attitude. Sorta like Lance; He didn’t just cheat, He was a little bit of a dick in a lot of ways, so His cheating, when it caught up with Him came with vengeance.

    Now, Sky, with it’s claims of transparencies (Am I correct?), they way they came out Holy’er than Thou attitude (again Am I correct?), the way they let Bobby Julich go because He wasn’t clean enough, along with other’s!!! -There were others, Am I correct.

    So, Sky begs.

    Sent from My bottle of Chianti.

  • J Evans Thursday, 9 March 2017, 10:02 am

    The ‘no rules were broken’ thing continues. Read WADA’s TUE rules from 2012. Wiggins’ TUE’s do not adhere to them.
    The WADA rules in force on 1st. Feb. 2012 were:-
    46. A TUE will be granted only in strict accordance with the following
    2. The Rider would experience a significant impairment to health if the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method were to be withheld in the course of treating an acute or chronic medical condition.
    – Wiggins was winning the 2012 Dauphine in between the medical that claimed he needed TA (mid-May) and actually taking the TA (end of June). That’s not a significant impairment to health.
    3. The therapeutic use of the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method would produce no additional enhancement of performance
    – oops.
    4. There is no reasonable therapeutic alternative to the Use of the otherwise Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method.
    – there are many alternatives that any honest doctor would try before injecting corticosteroids.

    • noel Thursday, 9 March 2017, 10:49 am

      but the TUE was granted, so the problem (as is often the case historically it seems) really lies with the UCI

      • DJW Thursday, 9 March 2017, 11:28 am

        Not only. The team would have known that the request for the TUE did not satisfy the required conditions when they applied for it. Why then did they do so?

      • Ecky Thump Thursday, 9 March 2017, 12:22 pm

        Presumably the UKAD, if not the Parliamentary Inquiry, will get access to the UCI’s records on the TUE applications?

    • Chris James Thursday, 9 March 2017, 12:10 pm

      Point 3 is a strange one, as surely a TUE allows the use of a normally prohibited substance – a substance presumably prohibited because it is a performance enhancing?

      • J Evans Thursday, 9 March 2017, 1:12 pm

        3. The therapeutic use of the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method would produce no additional enhancement of performance other than that which might be anticipated by a return to a state of normal health following the treatment of a legitimate medical condition. The Use of any Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method to increase “low-normal” levels of any endogenous hormone is not considered an acceptable therapeutic intervention.

    • BenW Thursday, 9 March 2017, 12:57 pm

      How do you know they hadn’t treid all the alternatives prior to this?

      • J Evans Thursday, 9 March 2017, 1:20 pm

        Why has this open, honest and clean team not provided that information?
        What did Wiggins say in his interview with Marr?
        This drug is only used in severe cases – in normal medicine. Climbing mountains on a bike faster than anyone else (the Dauphine) is not a ‘severe case’.
        I’ll leave it there. As I say, it all comes down to ‘faith’ by now.
        (As well as the Kimmage article, this one – https://cyclingtips.com/2017/03/commentary-team-skys-clarification-documents-leave-much-still-unclear/ – summarises things very well.)

  • Gargatouf Thursday, 9 March 2017, 12:40 pm

    As always, a balanced post.

    What really surprises me is the way Team Sky have handled the thing right from the start. Maybe they are innocent, no one really knows, but I believe that no one who is innocent deals with something like that the way they have dealt with this situation (from the Emma Pooley excuse, catastrophic showings in front of the Parliament enquiry, the holes and contradiction in pretty much everything they have said to the recent revelations that a load of Triamcinolone was given to staff and the accidental delivery of testosterone).

    It would be interesting to see how much triamcinolone is given each year in the UK, but it seems like there is a small corner of Manchester that accounts for a lot of it. And it happens to be where British Cycling is based. I mean it would be pretty incredible if a drug that aids performances would only be given to the staff of the said cycling team and not the people that would actually need it the most.

    • Larrick Thursday, 9 March 2017, 1:22 pm

      It’s worth reiterating that Triamcinolone is only banned in competition so it only becomes an issue if it was. If it was used to aid recovery from injury for instance then as the WADA rules stand, all would be fine.

      • Gargatouf Thursday, 9 March 2017, 1:59 pm

        True, but if I understand correctly, Sky are explaining that the triamcinolone (55 to 70 vials depending on the reports you read) was given out to staff rather than riders. As far as I’m aware, there are no other reports of the drug being given to other riders other than Wiggins, so at this point, the vast majority of the vials were not used by riders.

        As I mentioned in my first post, it would be pretty incredible that this potent drug that enhances performances, which is why you need a TUE in competition, was only given to staff and not the riders, whether legally or illegally/with or without a TUE. I mean it’s possible, and again, it might have been used perfectly legally outside of competition, but if it was used by staff as some sort of miracle cure for their problems, you would think that it was used by the riders, who would need it more than the staff.

        • Larrick Thursday, 9 March 2017, 2:50 pm

          Definitely. I’d have to check though I thought the comment made was that it was ‘also’ used for staff rather than Sky/BC saying it was only used by staff. Hard to understand why they would say that for something that can be used legally. I’d also add that something that is often used to aid muscle recovery from injury would probably get quite a work out for the track team.

          • hoh Thursday, 9 March 2017, 5:23 pm

            I think they are trying to refute the point about excessive amount being purchased. As both riders & staff use it, hence the amount. They never tried to say that it was not used on riders in certain cases.

          • Nick Thursday, 9 March 2017, 11:14 pm

            They said that the majority of the 55 doses did not go to Sky riders. So Sky riders had somewhere between 3 and 27 of them.

          • hoh Friday, 10 March 2017, 3:10 am


            Where does the 27 number coming from?

          • Nick Friday, 10 March 2017, 12:32 pm

            Hi hoh.

            The majority of 55 is a number equal to or greater than 28.

            55 – 28 = 27.

            So if the majority went to people other than Sky riders, then the maximum number that did go to Sky riders is 27.

      • CA Thursday, 9 March 2017, 10:19 pm

        From my limited understanding of Triamcinolone, it was not taken out of competition because it is used as a “finish” drug – it helps the athlete become razor sharp IMMEDIATELY prior to a race. If you take it during training it has a detrimental effect on the athlete’s form.

        It doesn’t aid in recovery, as you mention.

        Further, based on my limited understanding of this drug, the idea that Dr. Freeman supposedly administered 55 bottles to Team Sky staff is also ludicrous. Team Sky’s allergy/asthma (whatever, haha) symptoms would all have to be catastrophic if this drug was used because it is always the last drug that is tried.

        • Larrick. Friday, 10 March 2017, 1:15 am

          Limited knowledge indeed.

          This is from 2017.

          “Use of cortisone injections in the treatment of muscle and joint inflammatory reactions is becoming increasingly popular. First popularized by Janet Travell, MD, muscle injections are a remarkably effective adjunct to pharmacologic and physical therapies and are safe and easy to perform. Joint injections, while technically more difficult to perform, also can be of great benefit in the patient’s recovery. The purpose of this article is to introduce the basic principles of muscle and joint injections. [1, 2, 3, 4]”


          It can be used for many things including asthma and saddle sores but my point was that if a rider, including track riders, suffer a muscle tear etc, this sort of thing is used to help the muscle recover, hence it’s legally available to administer out of competition.

          The Inrng post is about people believing what they want to (the way I read it), faith not fact if you like. If you’ve made up your mind that’s fine but that doesn’t mean everyone is willing to ignore facts such as the possible usage of the drugs in question.

          • CA Friday, 10 March 2017, 6:24 pm

            No need to emphasise my limited medical knowledge, but I was merely quoting how cyclists have used this drug.

            Yes, the Inrng article mentions people believing what they want, but it is not reasonable to take Brailsford’s explanation at face value – that is this medication was used by the staff. That is ridiculous. Based on the recent past of this sport, it is not possible that a sports team would order this medication for their staff, rather than their athletes. If they were a super clean team, why would they take the risk of having this stuff within proximity to their athletes when the obvious conclusion would be it was for the athletes.

            Once again, as I mentioned above, no need to emphasise my limited medical knowledge, but cyclists (who used this drug – such as David Millar and Jorge Jakshe) said it is used to sharpen their form immediately prior to a race, which is why a TUE is necessary. The fact is, Wiggins hasn’t mentioned a single thing about muscle tears, neither has a single Team Sky rider, so the logical conclusion was that these bottles of Triam. were used to hone form immediately prior to a race (I am completely throwing out the explanation that any of these vials were for staff – that is a ludicrous explanation).

            It is easy to attempt to make excuses for Team Sky by stating all of the possible uses of a drug. But if you’re offering a solution that Team Sky has not even attempted to give, doesn’t it follow that these are absolutely NOT the reasons the drugs were at their facilities? Clearly these drugs were made available for the athletes, and for less than publishable reasons. Team Sky always brings a stable of riders in insane form, and the parallels with US Postal are becoming more and more public every day. In ten years, will the Team Sky apologists be feeling the same way many of Lance’s old fans were? Or will they be realistic, still support their team, but admit that their beloved team isn’t squeaky clean like they have been claiming.

          • Larrick Saturday, 11 March 2017, 11:23 am


            I actually thought that as you made the assertion of limited knowledge twice, along with the tenor of your response, that you did know what you were talking about. Sorry to have misread that.

            As for the claim that seems to be often made re staff usage, the actual response was “most of this medication was actually used by Dr Freeman as an anti-inflammatory when needed by any of the Great Britain riders or British Cycling staff as part of his informal role as the building’s general practitioner.”

            So anyone with a muscle injury/inflammation (not just a torn muscle) could be given it and of course this includes the track teams. The argument as to whether athletes should be able to take this type of drug to aid recovery is a different matter but as the code stands they can out of comp and in comp they require a TUE. The parallels with LA are ludicrous in my opinion as it’s comparing something sportspeople use regularly and legally against something that most don’t/didn’t use and was illegal.

            There’s comments on here by some along the lines of ‘I heard’ or ‘I read’ which have nothing to do with fact. Very Trumpesque to opine based on an unverified piece of information that came from who knows where. Things get repeated so often they then become fact. CN does it by first quoting an unnamed source and then in later articles repeat it as fact. To put it mildly, it gets my goat.

            As with LA, eventually the truth comes out but it’s not always what you think it might be. Just speak to anyone who has been or knows someone who has been convicted on circumstantial evidence only to later be released when facts come to light such as DNA and prove they were wrongly imprisoned. I’d also like to know how people here who seem so sure about the ‘truth’ would feel if it were they being wrongly accused but previous cases and some circumstantial events made others assume their guilt. I’m sure they’d hope that they were treated as innocent knowing they wouldn’t be proven guilty. Then again it must be reassuring to be so certain about something you (and I don’t mean you particularly CA) have no firsthand knowledge of…..

          • CA Sunday, 12 March 2017, 3:25 am

            Larrick: Alright then, it’s hilarious you lumped my response with Trump’s bunch merely to push your opinion that Team Sky is clean. That’s fine, you can think that as long as you want.

          • Larrick. Sunday, 12 March 2017, 8:22 am


            I didn’t but what are facts hey? I said there “are comments on here by some”. Not you. I also never said what I believe only that I prefer to work with the known facts. I suppose rather than respond to what I actually said it’s easier to ignore. Fair enough. We’ll leave it there.

  • Dom Thursday, 9 March 2017, 3:46 pm

    Brilliant and balanced , as usual. Thanks INRNG you put other press to shame. In the full arc of history the truth will out, until then i’ll keep my mind open. The paralell for me in stories like this is it’s easy to launch them but takes time for the other party to counter. Think Trump/Brexit proponents, easy to toss out accusations but takes much longer to give a valid worked and researched response. By the time you do the media circus has moved on. Regardless of the outcome of this the damage is done to Sky/Wiggins in the general population, only those who are interested in the sport will follow the story through to the end.

    • Red Hare Friday, 10 March 2017, 5:28 pm


  • Dom Thursday, 9 March 2017, 4:33 pm

    If some one wants to dig further,

    Having a nose on this, using some UK data (prescriptions given 2008 – now) http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/PrescriptionServices/3201.aspx

    These figures only give NHS prescribed data, presumably Sky would have private doctors so there subscriptions wouldn’t list.

    Even so, for the type of drug the TUE was given for (brand name Kenalog) in May 2012 this was prescribed a total of 87 times in the whole of England and in June that figure was 43.

  • hoh Thursday, 9 March 2017, 5:30 pm

    If we take the 55 over 4 years as the official figure, that would make 1.52 per month. Which makes prescription from Dr. Freeman in that month to be 1.7% of UK NHS prescription (3.5% in May).

    As you pointed out, it will be interesting to see what is the private prescription number. As the bulk of Gulf & Tennis player would probably obtain the drug through private sources.

    • Dom Thursday, 9 March 2017, 6:30 pm

      It’s a pretty expensive form of treatment so imagine it would be less likely to be prescribed for most people. Scraping the reviews of it on webmd the highest number of reviews were for the category ‘nasal inflammation due to allergies’ the reviews are very positive for a one off hit to suppress reaction to allergens. It’s also easily tested for.

      • Ecky Thump Thursday, 9 March 2017, 7:54 pm

        Wiggins lived a large part of his younger life right on one of the main roads into central London.
        Four lanes of virtual 24 hour traffic belching out NOx, PM10s and PM2.5s.
        See the furore with air quality in our cities.
        If he has allergic asthma, it can be severe, and it can be triggered by cold air, dust, smoke and traffic fumes.
        Poor air quality is killing almost 9,000 people in London every year.
        I bet there are plenty who can’t get access to the best treatments.

  • Brokendreams Thursday, 9 March 2017, 7:08 pm

    What a mess.

    It’s hard not to be highly sceptical now and that includes Froome. The thing that would move us forward would be honest testimony from Freeman. I see him as caught between the tremendous pressure to make sky’s riders perform and the stated values of the team. Blind eyes were wilfully turned for them to be in this situation, and that is the most generous view on the situation.

  • StevhanTI Thursday, 9 March 2017, 10:12 pm

    Thanks for the article Inrng, I also listened the Cyclingpodcast other commenters have referred to. For now I retain a few more ore less factual things and consequential questions from all this:
    1) IF something illegal was administered to Wiggo that after that illustrous last Dauphiné stage, he will very likely be stripped of his tdf victory and a bunch of other wins inlcuding an olympic title. There’s a lot at stake for him and the team, more than just being seen as truthful
    2)As a consequence of 1 the ’12 tdf title will go to…. the runner up, mr Froome, right? Does this partially explain why he seems reluctant to come out in favour of the team or any other people involved?
    3) Brian Cookson was president of UK cycling while all this was going on. Is this why the UCI seems quite reluctant to cooperate?
    4) whatever happens next Wiggo lied about the ‘no needles’ thing and SKY clearly used very strong drugs to enhance their riders’ capabilities, this severely harms their carefully build image. In Europe this story may even dwindle out because, who cares anymore if SKY are like the others, but in the UK this may have serious consequence RE: funding etc no?

  • Richard S Friday, 10 March 2017, 8:02 am

    It looks pretty bad for Sky and the only defence I can think of for them is that I’m fairly sure all the other teams do exactly the same or very similar things. And that isn’t exactly a defence. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the coming weeks/months/years cycling was hit by another Festina/US Postal type scandal whereby it’s revealed that more or less the entire peloton is reliant on strong prescription drugs intended for the use of very ill people, obtained dubiously, and are as reliant on them as riders in the 90s were on EPO, the riders in the 80s and 70s were on steroids and testosterone and the riders of the 50s and 60s were on amphetamines.

    • Anonymous Friday, 10 March 2017, 6:56 pm

      Richard S, that is really a good comment. Thanks. We already saw the tip of this iceberg once or twice with addiction problems, problems of severe psychological illnesses (which also often get triggered, nurtured through certain medications). With pills that were taken to help ease the negative effect of other pills, for which you need again other pills and so forth. To me there is no question, that what you describe is the case in most teams, but I’d think not in all (maybe 3 or 4 don’t do it so excessively?).

      Yesterday I read somewhere that sky tried vi@gra in it’s quest for british excellence. This is to me shocking, if true, even more shocking than “normal doping” (not, because it is vi@gra, but because it is a medication, that you shouldn’t take, if you don’t need it and there isn’t even the alibi-function asthma medications has) as it shows a total disregard of human health and a seriously warped sense of what sport is, what you can do with/to people or when it gets just plain wrong and perverse: Just throw the pills in the riders, everything, that isn’t on the list. (“Can’t do harm, if it isn’t banned, right?” You mean, can’t do harm to the riders??? “No, dummy, I mean the team, can’t harm the team! Yeah, I mean, yeah, now that you say it, I think …it maybe can harm the riders, but…well, it isn’t on the banned list, so hey ho.”)

      The line sky so often talks about has been crossed long ago or never existed. Just because something isn’t on the doping list, doesn’t mean taking it, isn’t doping. Period. It seems they forgot that. Or never cared about that. If I invent a medication, that lets people run 100 metres in 5 seconds, then maybe it isn’t on the wada list, because it is brandnew, but it still is doping. If I find out as the first person, that a certain medication against grey star let’s people run 100 metres in 5 seconds, then it still is doping, even, if it wasn’t on the wada list till now. It still is performance enhancing.

      I am so tired of this, I almost wish World Tour cycling would stop, if they can’t do it without looking like ill sceletons, pumping whatever they can in their body in every way they can.

      • CA Friday, 10 March 2017, 7:08 pm

        Absolutely agree – the ill-skeleton look makes you really uncomfortable to watch. You know they’re not doing this naturally.

        People can stand up for Team Sky all they want and say they’re not taking EPO, but at every step they’ve discussed experimenting with different drugs, pharmaceuticals, etc. to get an advantage. Therefore, the SUBSTANCE of the anti-doping rules are broken. Why won’t WADA go after them for that? This has gone way beyond basic nutritional efforts to win.

        • Richard S Friday, 10 March 2017, 9:49 pm

          Yes the ‘ill skeleton’ look might in the future look as stupid as 80kg riders ploughing up Alpine passes in the big ring or people breaking going round hairpins uphill – the things that have come synonymous with the epo era. At the end of the day if we took ourselves down to that weight, absolute minimum body fat, we would always be ill and would have no power at all. You regularly read that as an amateur you need to watch what you eat but don’t take it too far or it’ll have an adverse affect on your power. Funny how that doesn’t seem to apply to pros.

      • Nick Friday, 10 March 2017, 11:23 pm

        Actually, the new medications are covered by the WADA code:

        “Any pharmacological substance which is not addressed by any of the subsequent sections of the List and with no current approval by any governmental regulatory health authority for human therapeutic use (e.g. drugs under pre-clinical or clinical development or discontinued, designer drugs, substances approved only for veterinary use) is prohibited at all times.”

  • Ecky Thump Friday, 10 March 2017, 11:57 pm

    Worth noting that a couple of Premier League football clubs, including Manchester City with all their oil billions, were fined recently for failure to keep adequate records in relation to drugs testing whereabouts procedures.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 11 March 2017, 12:52 am

      I don’t get why this should be important for this case? These are two totally different scenarios and environments. We all know, that neither football nor fifa nor the majority of football fans care for anti doping and that this is for example the reason, why they don’t do any blood testing at world championships, very few tests in the leagues or why football clubs don’t have records for adams or only use it when it suits them. It just isn’t important for them and there is no pressure to change that.

      In cycling on the other hand, there is pressure for documenting every tiny little thing – unless you know the powers will save you with backdated tues and other stuff, like it was with lance armstrong and in one case with wiggins, if I recall it right (I think one tue had a discrepancy with dates? But I admit, I am not sure, would have to look it up).

      So I don’t see any connection to this case. Or do you want to say sky doesn’t care about documenting anti doping and good governance measures just as football clubs do, so it is normal that they don’t have records? If so, they would need to be very, very sure of their plan b, and to be honest, I don’t think (or better: hope) anybody would be so stupid in cycling. In cycling anti doping has become bigger than cycling itself by now.

  • Ecky Thump Saturday, 11 March 2017, 9:06 am

    The two football clubs would fall under the remit of UKAD, would they not?
    But the point was to provide some context.
    If Brailsford is responsible, should Pep Guardiola lose his job too?