When the Daily Mail published this story, David Walsh tweeted this isn't as much a game-changer as a game-ender. Dave Brailsford and Team Sky went before a parliamentary select committee yesterday, to answer questions pertaining to a mystery package delivered to Bradley Wiggins in 2011 while competing in a race at La Toussuire in France. Brailsford told the MPs before him that the package contained Fluimucil:
Doctor Freeman told me that it was Fluimucil that was in the package, a product that is for a nebuliser. That is what was in the package
Let’s just be clear, I wasn’t aware of the package at the time. When it was brought to my attention, it is my role to take those matters seriously to try and gather the facts and see if there was any need for a disciplinary procedure. My first course of action was to speak to all of the guys on the team.
Obviously we go to many races and people’s recollections of races can be vague. I spoke to everybody involved, I got witness statements, and then I couldn’t see that there was any anti-doping rule violation.
However, I also felt that it was probably appropriate to pass that on and have it viewed by an independent authority who could verify the fact.
This doesn't fully stack up: it is a remarkable level of effort to go to for Fluimucil, which is available over French counters for about a tenner. Also, as Matt Lawton tweeted, it is unsuitable for those who have asthma, for which Wiggins receive a Therapeutic Use Exemption for:
Not be used if you have asthma... pic.twitter.com/qGqfoNUhh1
— Matt Lawton (@Lawton_Times) December 19, 2016
Lawton is an important player in this story, as his reporting for the Daily Mail is what has led to Brailsford's questioning before a parliamentary select committee. It was he who proved Brailsford to have made two factual inaccuracies in his explanation behind the package delivered to Wiggins in 2011.
Firstly, Brailsford told him that the package was delivered for Emma Pooley, whom Lawton proved was in fact 700 miles away in Spain. Brailsford then told Lawton that Dr. Freeman had administered a drug to Wiggins on the team bus, and told Lawton he could prove that the bus had left La Toussuire before Wiggins had finished his post-race commitments.
Lawton then found video evidence to show Wiggins standing beside the bus after the race.
Now, after Brailsford's grilling before parliament, the Mail write that they feel obliged to reveal the lengths Brailsford went to try to kill the story Lawton broke.
Here's the killer line, that you'll hear quoted again and again in relation to this story:
If you didn't write the story, is there anything else that could be done?
He tried to bargain with the Mail in a two-and-a-half-hour meeting, offering them the alternative of a more positive story, before then offering them a story about a rival team winning through the use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions.
Brailsford also told the Mail that this story could be 'the end of Team Sky'.
It might well be the end of Dave Brailsford. Incredible.
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