Nicole Cooke says she doesn’t find Team Sky’s claims of being the ‘cleanest’ team in cycling credible. The BBC reports that she is also ‘sceptical’ about Sir Bradley Wiggins’ controversial use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) ahead of major goals.
Wiggins was granted a TUE to take anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone before the 2011 Tour de France, his 2012 Tour win and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
Giving evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport select committee yesterday, ex-Olympic champion Cooke said:
“The chronological coincidence of the TUEs just before major events raises suspicions with me based on my experience of patterns and ways that I’ve seen other riders try and beat the system.”
While expressing scepticism, she did however add that, “I don’t have the medical knowledge to make an informed decision of the medical side of it.”
Wiggins himself has said that the timing of the injections was due to the ‘unpredictable’ nature of his allergies.
Cooke also questioned former Team Sky head coach Shane Sutton’s testimony to parliament that he had not been involved in Wiggins’s TUE process, saying “that does not ring true with my experiences of coaches.”
Asked whether she found Team Sky’s claims that they are running the cleanest team in cycling credible, Cooke said that she didn’t and referred to the ongoing mystery surrounding the contents of the package delivered for Wiggins at the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné.
“I think the stance of being the ‘cleanest’ team and yet the team principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, not knowing what the riders were treated with, definitely makes it hard to back up that claim,” she said.
In her written evidence to the committee, Cooke also claimed that it was ‘pertinent’ that there was a connection between Wiggins and Simon Cope, the man who delivered that package.
Both men rode for the Linda McCartney team which UK Anti-Doping has been investigating since 2012 and Cooke expressed frustration at the lack of results.
“As recently as June 2016 three of the British members of this team, Sean Yates, Max Sciandri and Matt Stephens, who is a commentator on the sport for Eurosport, all stated that Ukad had made no contact with them. Four years on – how patient do we have to be, or are Ukad doing nothing?”