British Cycling has promised to overhaul its relationship with Team Sky and launched an investigation into what happened with the triamcinolone that was ordered by its doctor, as revealed at Wednesday’s parliamentary hearing.
The revelations around Team Sky and British Cycling from the Ukad head, Nicole Sapstead, were described as “shocking” and “unacceptable” by the UK Sport chief executive, Liz Nicholl, at a press briefing in Manchester with the British Cycling chair Jonathan Browning on Thursday, and there may also be implications for British Cycling’s Lottery funding when settlements are made this month.
The blurred relationship between Team Sky and British Cycling was heavily criticised by the select committee on Wednesday. Asked to describe Sky’s current dealings with the governing body, Browning said that there were currently no individuals with joint responsibilities within the two bodies, and they would aim for “maximum clarity of the separation of the roles and activities”.
He added: “There are some areas where there will be benefit of supporting each other and sharing but they need to be very clearly defined and boundaries drawn between the two organisations. I would characterise the separation as substantial now. There is still contact between the two organisations and there are no individuals with dual roles, but we are going to step back and look at it again to make sure we avoid any potential conflict of interest.”
British Cycling later confirmed that the two bodies no longer share a room containing medical supplies within the building used at the Manchester Velodrome. It appears Sky’s medical supplies are currently held at their logistics base in Belgium, and Dr Richard Freeman no longer works for them.
Browning added that an inquiry into medical procedures within British Cycling will take in whether the triamcinolone ordered by Freeman – then working jointly across Team Sky and the Olympic team – was administered to Olympic squad athletes and if so, to what medical purpose, but the chair said that the incomplete records and the need to maintain patient confidentiality will not make this a simple task.
“We need to have that audit – it’s unacceptable that those records were not complete and clear and available. We will be following up exactly as I’ve said in reviewing our medical services and record-keeping and we will be fixing these things.”
However, he added: “You cannot simply go in and look at an individual’s medical records. That has to be done by qualified and authorised individuals. The medical records have to be got to a position where they are complete and available for the appropriate individuals to review.”
Browning also admitted to cultural “failures” at the organisation, ahead of the publication of a UK Sport review into allegations of sexism and bullying.
“[The failures] occurred at a time when our sport and indeed the wider UK high-performance system were undergoing rapid transformation in terms of realising unprecedented medal success on the world stage,” he said. “Our cultures and behaviours must be a focus for the whole organisation and we will work with staff, riders and volunteers to develop a set of common values and behaviours by which the whole of British Cycling will live.
“Performance or personal development is not a choice great organisations ask people to make, they help people do both – that’s where British Cycling is headed. We deeply regret any instance where we have failed to deliver.”
Ukad has yet to complete its inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing at British Cycling and Team Sky, centred on the delivery of a Jiffy bag to Sir Bradley Wiggins at the Criterium du Dauphiné in 2011, which was said by Freeman to contain the legal decongestant Fluimucil. None of the parties involved has supplied documentation to back that up due to incomplete record-keeping, and on Thursday Wiggins refused to answer questions from a television crew regarding the package.
Nicholl was asked about possible implications for British Cycling’s future funding and replied that upcoming agreements over Lottery funding “will contain conditions” adding: “Those action plans that we’ve talked about and these other commitments that British Cycling is now making will be in there as a condition of grant and there will be timescales. The reputation of British Cycling is taking a big hit over this period and the responsibility of the leadership of British Cycling is to restore the credibility and reputation through the actions that they take.”