A damning attack has been initiated by former Olympic and world champion cyclist Nicole Cooke on British Cycling and Team Sky. The Welsh former professional road bicycle racer condemned the governing bodies for the lack of accountability, failure to fight the abuse of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) within the sport, and sexism.
The 33-year-old Cooke presented written evidence to the Culture, Media, and Sport select committee as part of the on-going inquiry into combating doping in sport. The inclusion of Cooke came after the appearance of former British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton and Team Sky chief Dave Brailsford in front of the committee in December.
The former cyclist added British Cycling had “downgraded” its preparation for the 2008 Worlds that came directly after her Olympic road race victory in Beijing as there was no male rider who could effectively challenge for a World title. Cooke also added she was forced to fund her own flights to and accommodation in Australia as part of the training plan ahead of British Cycling's program for the World Championships in 2011 and London 2012.
Cooke said she had asked for a skinsuit to use for the race but did not received any. The former cyclist said she expecting this had brought to the championships her skin suit from the year before but Dave Brailsford was insistent that she could not wear it as it did not feature the logo of the new Sponsor Sky. Cooke said a compromise was reached eventually on the eve of the race, in which Emma Pooley, who had a needle and thread with her, cut out the Sky logo of the jersey and sewed it onto her old skinsuit. Cooke added she won the World Title and became the first person, male or female, to be World and Olympic road race champion in the same year.
Cooke remarked this un-equitable and discriminatory distribution of resource was only possible due to the failure of UK Sport to hold the senior management of British Cycling to account. Cooke blasted British Cycling by remarking that senior management and the Board of British Cycling throughout her entire career could not have made it more clear to those they directed, that men and the actions and achievements of men, were all that mattered and this was obvious to all observers of the sport but UK Sport just stood by, watched, and approved.
Cooke also said UK Anti-Doping was silent and did not take any action to fight doping in sports. The former cyclist said she became aware of the endemic use of performance enhancing drugs in her first full season in 2002. Cooke said she presented evidence of drug abuse to UK Anti-Doping on two occasions, with no satisfactory outcome. The former Olympic and world champion cyclist said they would not do anything with her evidence in the first case. She added they took no notes during the meeting and informed her on the second case that she could not be given any information of any sort as to how they might process the evidence she gave to them.
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