Sir Bradley Wiggins says his life and that of his family was made “a living hell” by the year-long investigation into a mystery package delivered to him at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine. Wiggins was speaking after UK Anti-Doping took the highly unusual step of announcing on Wednesday that it had concluded its investigation, saying that it would not be charging Wiggins, British Cycling or Team Sky in connection with what became known as “Jiffy bag-gate”.
Ukad’s announcement was welcomed by Team Sky and by Wiggins, both of whom said they felt vindicated. Wiggins – who demanded in his statement on Wednesday to know the source of the original allegations – is now understood to be considering legal action. However, it was generally felt to be a wholly unsatisfactory stalemate, which has left Ukad looking weak and a fug of suspicion hanging over the protagonists.
Damian Collins, the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, told Telegraph Sport on Wednesday that Ukad’s findings were “not an exoneration of anyone”, adding that a “cloud now hangs over one of our greatest Olympians”.
Collins’ dissatisfaction stems from Ukad’s failure to get to the bottom of the matter. The organisation responsible for rooting out doping in this country made clear in its statement on Wednesday that it was only winding up its investigation because it had been unable “to confirm or refute” Team Sky’s claim that the decongestant Fluimucil was in the package. Ukad cited a “lack of accurate medical records”, which it described as a “serious concern”, effectively admitting that it had hit a brick wall. It said it would be handing over some of the evidence it had gathered to the General Medical Council, which could result in that body taking on the investigation.
Collins said: “Ukad relies on people’s willingness to cooperate. It has no legal authority to compel anyone to speak.”
Asked whether he favoured the criminalisation of doping, Collins replied: “I think so. I was very struck by the evidence [former rider] Nicole Cooke gave to the select committee when she said that in those countries where doping is illegal, they have much more effective investigations.” The DCMS select committee is preparing a report into doping, which is due to be published in the next few weeks.
While Collins criticised Ukad for being too weak, Wiggins criticised it for going far too far, railing against what he described as an irresponsible use of public resources.
“It has always been the case that no such charges could be brought against me as no anti-doping violations took place,” Wiggins said in a statement on social media. “I am pleased this has finally been confirmed publicly. This period 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.”
Wiggins added that he was particularly disappointed that Ukad had acted on what he insisted was flimsy evidence in the first place. “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 predicated on a news headline rather than real solid information.”