2016: The year the wheels came off British cycling

Questions remain after Sir Dave Brailsford appears in front of MPs to explain parcel sent to Sir Bradley Wiggins


It's been a great year for UK sport, but a dark cloud still hangs over British Cycling.

While not lessening the achievements of Laura Trott, Jason Kenny and Tour de France winner Chris Froome, 2016 will go down as the year the wheels came off for the governing body of the country's most successful sport, says Dan Roan of the BBC.

"One drugs test was failed, several were missed, there were accusations of bullying, sexism, discrimination and misappropriation of kit, several investigations, bitter recriminations, and finally, two major resignations; of technical director Shane Sutton and chief executive Ian Drake."

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The cracks first appeared when Sutton was accused of bullying and sexism by rider Jess Varnish after she was dropped from the Olympic team in March. He left the organisation in April, but an internal investigation this month upheld only one of nine accusations against him. Varnish has vowed to appeal.

However, while that controversy was playing out, British Cycling and its leader, Dave Brailsford, were caught up in a separate row over medications. The lightning rod for the controversy was the contents of a jiffy bag delivered to Team Sky rider Bradley Wiggins on the final day of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.

"The controversy around the package has impacted on both British Cycling and Sky because of the crossover between the two organisations - British Cycling coach Simon Cope was asked by Sky to deliver the mystery package - and the fact that at one stage Brailsford was the boss of both," says the Daily Mail.

Brailsford told a parliamentary committee this week that the package contained the decongestant Fluimucil.

However, "plenty of questions remain and the reputation of both his team and the sport's governing body has taken a battering", says Roan of the BBC.

One question involves the lack of paperwork surrounding the package. "Records should exist of the Fluimucil being ordered and prescribed but UK Anti-Doping investigators have been unable to find a paper trail confirming that it was the drug contained in the package carried to France by a British Cycling coach," says The Times.

"If no such records exist, that could point to a failure by British Cycling and medical staff to maintain the necessary paperwork and the governing body would at least be expected to provide a satisfactory explanation as to why they are not available."

Meanwhile, the pressure on British Cycling "has intensified with one former coach recalling a culture of 'lies, bullying and harassment' at cycling's national governing body", says the Daily Telegraph. His claims have been passed to the independent inquiry looking into the culture at the organisation.

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