Team Sky’s celebrated psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters was on Tuesday night drawn into a blame game surrounding the failure to keep cyclists’ medical records, telling MPs that it had been his responsibility to track medication dispensed to Sir Bradley Wiggins for three years.
In a sharp exchange of correspondence with the culture, media and sport select committee chairman Damian Collins, Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford made it clear to the MPs that Peters – a key influence in British rugby, cycling, the London 2012 Team GB squad, Roy Hodgson’s England football team and Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool – carried responsibility for ensuring that medical notes were uploaded.
Brailsford also blames team doctor Richard Freeman’s “struggle” with Dropbox technology as a reason why three years of Wiggins’ medical records were not uploaded to a central server, in line with General Medical Council rules. But when pressed in correspondence on why that systemic failure was not spotted between the pre-season Critérium du Dauphiné race in 2011 and 2014, when Freeman’s laptop was allegedly stolen while he was on holiday in Greece, Brailsford cites Peters.
"One of Dr Steve Peters's responsibilities, as Team Sky's Clinical Director, was to review whether rider medical notes were being uploaded properly to Dropbox," Brailsford writes. “While Dr Peters did take steps to improve compliance in respect of Team Sky policies going forward, Sir Bradley’s records from the Critérium du Dauphiné were not retroactively uploaded to Dropbox.”
A new 3,700-word document by Brailsford - clarifying events surrounding the delivery of a mysterious Jiffy Bag to Freeman at the Critérium race which Wiggins won - gives rise to as many questions as answers.
The former British Cycling performance director has already testified that the contents of the package were a basic decongestant, Flumicil. That failed to convince MPs, who want to know why a former senior British Cycling coach, Simon Cope, was despatched through on a flight to deliver it.
Brailsford states in the new correspondence that the drug was not available in France, though when pressed by Collins to elaborate on this point, he admits that the product was available a few miles over the border in Switzerland. Brailsford even names a pharmacy in the Swiss town of Yverdon-les-Bains from which Freeman purchased Flumicil – yet still the Manchester ‘courier’ was despatched with the drug.
Freeman, who has declined a request to appear before the select committee on grounds of ill health, was being asked to use basic IT skills to upload the medical records, Brailsford states.
“With regards to the dropbox account used by Team Sky in 2011, clearly one of the purposes of using a cloud based file storage system like this is to provide a back up copy of important documents.,” he writes. “If dropbox is installed on a computer or laptop it is this same process to save a file to dropbox, as it is for any other location, so I’m not sure why Dr Freeman would have had any difficulty using it.”
Collins is told that Team Sky appointed a full-time Compliance Officer in 2013 to address some of the issues which have been brought to light by the select committee, though there is no explanation by Brailsford of why the new employee spotted Freeman’s failure before the loss of the laptop a year later.
Brailsford insists that though the inquiries by select committee and UK Anti-Doping have revealed systemic failure , there has been no evidence of wrongdoing.
“It should be made clear that, as far as we understand, UKAD’s extensive investigation has, to date, found no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the allegation [of doping] that was made,” he writes. “We remain confident that the allegation is false and that there has been no wrongdoing by Team Sky or its employees.
“While we accept that there are no medical records for this particular rider at this particular race, it is wrong to draw the conclusion that Team Sky has no medical records or that our medical team as a whole have been deficient in their record keeping.”