Team Sky general manager Sir David Brailsford has confirmed the mysterious package sent to Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2011 was the mucolytic Fluimucil. Responding to questions from MPs at a Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing, the 52-year-old finally disclosed the contents of the jiffy bag which had been transported from the United Kingdom to the Dauphine Libere race by then-women's cycling coach Simon Cope.
The United Kingdom Anti-Doping Agency [UKAD] launched an investigation into the contents of the package, which came amid revelations that Wiggins had used therapeutic use exemptions on three occasions for anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone. The incidents had occurred before the Tour de France in 2011 and 2012 – the latter race in which he became the first Briton to win the title – and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
Neither British Cycling nor Team Sky, who pride themselves on 100% transparency with regard to doping, have disclosed what Wiggins' doctor Richard Freeman had asked to be dispatched to the race, which took place weeks before the Tour of the same year. Ukad lifted those restrictions for the select committee hearing, allowing Brailsford to confirm the nature of the delivery after other cycling chiefs had pleaded ignorance.
"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," said Brailsford, who confirmed a paper trail could confirm his claim. "I don't think it was convoluted, I think that this was the easiest possible way.
"The fact of the matter was that Simon Cope was already flying out. What we have on a regular basis, is people moving in and out and when you become aware of people moving in and out then, if you need anything, you can ask people to bring things with them. I think that is maybe where the whole situation has been misled is that the sole purpose for Simon Cope at the end of the Dauphine wasn't expressly to bring and deliver a package.
"This is what Doctor Freeman told me," he added. "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."
Though Brailsford has belatedly confirmed the contents of the package which has cast a shadow over the sport and Wiggins, questions will continue to be asked over why British Cycling and Team Sky decided to delay revealing the nature of the delivery, due to the trivial nature of the medication. Both await the findings from a Ukad investigation, soon to follow, and which may disclose further details regarding the episode.
"There was no question of a cover-up," added Brailsford, who had initially told The Daily Mail he had no knowledge of the contents of the bag before backtracking on Monday (19 December). "There are lessons to be learned. I have handled this situation very badly. But we have reviewed all our policies and how we use TUEs in the future and how do we gain and provide transparency while protecting competitive advantage. We invite anybody to come and examine us and scrutinise us."