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LONDON (AFP) — Beleaguered Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford attacked the chairman of UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) on Tuesday over remarks he’d made about the ongoing investigation into the cycling team.
UKAD chairman Duncan Kenworthy had told the BBC on Saturday the evidence Brailsford had given to the Culture Media and Sport Parliamentary Committee in December was ‘extraordinary’ and ‘very disappointing.’ UKAD is probing alleged wrongdoing at Team Sky and British Cycling, which share headquarters.
Both have come under the spotlight over retired legend Bradley Wiggins’s use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) and a mysterious package — which they say contained the decongestant Fluimucil — delivered to Wiggins during the 2011 Dauphine Libere. Wiggins went on to win that race, and at that point it was the biggest win of his career.
Some outside the team have asked where the paper trail is for the package and pointed out that Fluimicil was readily available in France, with no need to have it brought from England by British Cycling coach Simon Cope.
Brailsford hit back on Tuesday using the Team Sky media day in Mallorca to tell the BBC the only thing extraordinary about Kenworthy’s remarks were that he made them at all.
“The only extraordinary thing is he commented on the whole process,” said Brailsford, who has been in his present role as Team Sky manager since 2010.
“Most fair-minded people would accept if there is a process and it’s a diligent one, we all trust it.
“I don’t think the public have any need to lose trust in Team Sky. The UK authorities are gathering all the information, some of which I don’t have access to.
“In the midst of an ongoing investigation for the chair of that organization to discuss the contents of it is the extraordinary thing in my mind,” added the 52-year-old Englishman, who masterminded the rise of the British track cycling team as performance director for British Cycling before stepping down in 2014 to focus solely on Team Sky.
Brailsford refused to answer the question posed several times as to whether he was disappointed that Team Sky’s star rider and three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome did not give him his explicit backing.
Froome did though in the same interview appear to take a dig at 2012 Tour de France victor Wiggins and his controversial use of TUEs saying he refused to take one in the final week of the 2015 Tour de France which he went on to win as he didn’t think it was morally right.
“He [Froome] was put in a difficult position,” said Brailsford. “The questions he was asked, they’re not for him to answer, they’re for me to respond to.
“He’s one of the greatest cyclists the world has ever seen and he wants to cement his place as a legend and this is the right place [Team Sky] for him to do that.”
Brailsford said that while the matter over the package and Wiggins could have been handled better it didn’t logically lead to them being guilty of wrongdoing. “There is a difference between handling and wrongdoing. There might be a PR issue but they are two separate things. We are contributing to a process to get to the truth. It’s uncomfortable and not easy, nobody would deny that.”