Saturday 24 August 2019

Bradley Wiggins slams UKAD for putting him through a 'living hell'

Bradley Wiggins . Photo: David Davies/PA
Bradley Wiggins . Photo: David Davies/PA

Matt Slater

Bradley Wiggins has broken his silence on UK Anti-Doping's investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in cycling, saying it has provoked a "malicious witch hunt" that has been a "living hell" for his family.

In a statement posted on his social media pages, Wiggins welcomed Wednesday's announcement by UKAD that it was closing a 14-month investigation into a package that was delivered to his team doctor at the end of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine race in France.

As UKAD has been unable to prove what was in that package, commonly refereed to as the Jiffy bag, it said no anti-doping charges would be brought.

While this has "pleased" Wiggins, the 37-year-old has criticised UKAD for not issuing an "unqualified finding of innocence" and said he will consider his legal options.

Wiggins, who became the first British rider to win the Tour de France in 2012, wrote that being accused of doping "is the worst possible thing for any professional sportsperson, especially when it is without any solid factual basis and you know the allegation to be categorically untrue".

He explained he has not spoken publicly about the investigation until now "so as not to undermine it", although this has been difficult as there has been "widespread and unfounded speculation in the press".

He added that he has been "hounded" on his door step and pundits and riders have "waded in without knowing all the facts".

He wrote: "This period of time has been a living hell for me and my family, full of innuendo and speculation. At times it has felt nothing less than a malicious witch hunt.

"To say I am disappointed by some of the comments made by UKAD this morning is an understatement. No evidence exists to prove a case against me and in all other circumstances this would be an unqualified finding of innocence.

"The amount of time it has taken to come to today's conclusion has caused serious personal damage, especially as the investigation seems to be predicated on a news headline rather than real, solid information."

He then poses several questions he would like to ask UKAD, including who was the source of the original allegation, why it was considered credible, how much this investigation has cost and why it has taken so long.

He reveals that he spoke to UKAD for more than 90 minutes last November and handed over all relevant medical records in his possession. The agency, he claims, did not ask for any subsequent information.

On the medical care he received during his career, Wiggins writes that he placed his trust in the professional team he had around him, in this case British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman.

Noting the criticism Dr Freeman has received for his poor record-keeping, Wiggins defended him, saying he considers him to be "a very good physician (who) treated me and others with great care and respect".

However, Wiggins does write: "Had the infrastructure for precise record-keeping been in place this investigation would have never started."

Wiggins, who retired from cycling after winning a fifth Olympic gold in Rio last summer, finishes his statement by asking the media to give him and his family privacy while he assesses "which legal options to pursue".

"I would also like to take the opportunity to thank those who have stood by me and my family while this dark cloud has been over us," he added.

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