London, March 10, 2017 (AFP) – Beleaguered Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford, the man behind Britain’s rise as a cycling power, insisted Friday he would not resign despite doping and sexism rows engulfing the sport.
Brailsford was labelled “untouchable” in a leaked review of British Cycling and its handling of sexism allegations against a top coach. The federation admitted mistakes after the publication of the review Friday by the Daily Mail.
British Cycling is already reeling from revelations it mishandled the drugs records of star rider Bradley Wiggins, with Brailsford in the firing line.
But Brailsford, speaking at the Tirreno-Adriatico race in Italy, told cyclingnews.com he had no intention of standing down.
“No. My thoughts are about what’s good for the team and what’s right,” he said. “I’m fine in myself and I’ve got confidence in my team.
“On a personal level, I’ve been through a lot over the years and it’s important to make sure that you can look at yourself and say that there has been no wrongdoing.
“I’m confident of that,” added Brailsford.
British anti-doping authorities are investigating Sky and British Cycling over a mysterious package delivered to now retired Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France champion, at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.
Questions have also been asked over three “therapeutic use exemptions” or TUEs granted to five-times Olympic champion Wiggins in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Richard Freeman, the then Team Sky doctor, has said the package contained the legal decongestant Fluimucil and Wiggins, in common with Brailsford, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Freeman had been due to appear before a committee of British lawmakers last week, but was too ill to attend.
That hearing saw Nicole Sapstead, the head of United Kingdom Anti-Doping, lay into Sky for failing to keep accurate records after telling the committee that Freeman had said the information was lost when his laptop was stolen while on holiday in Greece in 2014.
It has been alleged that the package contained the banned corticosteroid triamcinolone.
Wiggins has faced repeated questions since Russian hackers Fancy Bears revealed documents in September which showed he received TUEs for triamcinolone.
Corticosteroids are only allowed with restrictions and the World Anti-Doping Agency is considering a blanket ban on them in competition.
TUEs are official notes allowing athletes to use otherwise banned substances for the treatment of legitimate medical conditions.
Many within cycling claim the system is open to abuse.
Wiggins, however, has always denied any wrongdoing and insisted he needed the treatment to deal with a pollen allergy.
– ‘Shocking and inexcusable’ –
Under fire for its medical record-keeping, British Cycling was blasted Friday for its “shocking and inexcusable” treatment of sexism allegations.
Shane Sutton, Brailsford’s longtime lieutenant and widely regarded as one of world cycling’s top coaches, resigned as British Cycling’s technical director in April last year after rider Jess Varnish alleged he had told her to “go and have a baby” following her failure to qualify for the Rio Olympics and subsequent loss of public funding.
Later an independent review of British Cycling’s performance programme — that has produced a host of worldbeating riders — led by British Rowing chair Annamarie Phelps was set up.
According to the Daily Mail, the review said British Cycling looked to change the conclusions of grievance officer Alex Russell’s inquiry into Sutton in a bid to retain the highly-regarded Australian.
“The actions of the British Cycling board in that regard are shocking and inexcusable,” the paper quoted the review as saying.
“They also call into serious question whether the composition of the British Cycling board is fit to govern a national sporting body.”
According to the Mail, the review said former performance director Brailsford had been an “untouchable” figure at British Cycling, with management “characterised by fear and bullying”.
British Cycling said in a statement it accepted “that the world class programme leadership focused on athlete performance and medal delivery without sufficient care and attention to the overall staff and athlete culture and environment”.