British Cycling: Review leads to medical services overhaul

Sir Bradley Wiggins
Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France in 2012

British Cycling has announced a "timely" overhaul of its medical services for athletes following an independent review.

Dr Rod Jaques, director of medical services at the English Institute of Sport, examined British Cycling's practices after it was scrutinised as part of an anti-doping investigation into a mystery medical package.

His recommendations include the creation of a new 'head of medicine' and a team to look after riders' physical and mental well-being.

He also says there should be a clinical governance committee, which will report to the British Cycling Board and which will monitor the medical services.

Stephen Park, British Cycling's performance director, said: "Dr Jaques' recommendations are timely and sensible."

Heavily criticised

Both the national governing body and road-racing off-shoot Team Sky were heavily criticised for record-keeping failures at a Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing in March.

Last year, UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) launched an investigation focused on the contents of a mysterious jiffybag delivered to Team Sky for Sir Bradley Wiggins in France at the end of the Criterium du Dauphine race in France in 2011.

At a subsequent parliamentary hearing, MPs were told that British Cycling medic Dr Richard Freeman - who received the package - had no record of his medical treatment at the time.

The former Team Sky doctor said his laptop containing medical records had been stolen, but committee chairman Damian Collins MP said the controversy had left the credibility of Team Sky and British Cycling "in tatters".

Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford had told the committee that Freeman had said the package contained an over-the-counter decongestant, Fluimucil.

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British Cycling chairman Jonathan Browning says some of the issues within the organisation have been 'unacceptable'

He and Wiggins have come under scrutiny since information on the rider's authorised use of banned drugs to treat a medical condition was released by hackers last year.

Wiggins, an asthma and allergy sufferer, received special permission to use triamcinolone shortly before the 2012 Tour de France as well as the previous year's event and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.

His therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) were approved by British authorities, and cycling's world governing body the UCI. There is no suggestion either the 36-year-old or Team Sky broke any rules.

Dr Jaques - who carried out confidential interviews with staff and examined resources, management and record-keeping - said: "The review outlines reforms that will ensure that British Cycling makes changes to ensure the highest standards of professionalism and care. I am delighted that my recommendations have been immediately accepted."

Jonathan Browning, chair of British Cycling's board, said: "The creation of the Clinical Governance Committee underlines the importance of having the right people, structures and processes in place so that British Cycling can provide our athletes with best-in-class medical services.

"The speed with which we are introducing changes across the organisation is testament to our determination to look to the future and make British Cycling an organisation that is revered around the world as we serve the sport of cycling."

Last year, former British Cycling chief Peter Keen told the BBC that sports organisations should stop directly employing doctors, amid growing concern over the potential abuse of TUEs.

Ukad is yet to publish the findings of its investigation into a claim that Wiggins was injected with triamcinolone, a powerful corticosteroid, at the end of the 2011 Criterium, and allegations regarding the possible use of painkiller tramadol to enhance performance.

In March, Team Sky published an open letter from Brailsford in which the team outlined 14 steps taken to improve their anti-doping and medical policies since 2011.

Meanwhile, a long-awaited report on the culture at British Cycling and accusations of bullying and sexism against top-level riders will be published next week.

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