Shane Sutton, former technical director of British Cycling, accused by ex team-mate of misleading a select committee in 2016

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Tom Cary
·3 min read
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Shane Sutton - Shane Sutton accused by former team-mate of misleading a Commons select committee in 2016 - PA
Shane Sutton - Shane Sutton accused by former team-mate of misleading a Commons select committee in 2016 - PA

Shane Sutton, the former technical director of British Cycling, has been accused by a former team-mate of misleading a Commons select committee in 2016 when he said he had “no experience” of doping either during or after his cycling career.

Kvetoslav Palov, a former team-mate of Sutton’s at British team ANC-Halfords in the late 1980s, told a medical tribunal on Tuesday that Sutton would have seen the exact same thing he did when he entered the toilets of a McDonald's restaurant in Edinburgh prior to the first stage of the 1987 Tour of Britain and found “syringes all over the place from bike riders”.

The Czech ex-pro also told the tribunal of rumours that the team’s soigneur at the time, Angus Fraser, had “spent £10,000 on drugs” for Sutton at that year’s Tour de France.

Palov was speaking at the fitness-to-practise tribunal of Dr Richard Freeman. The former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor is accused by the General Medical Council of ordering testosterone to the national velodrome in 2011 “knowing or believing” it was intended for an athlete.

Freeman has admitted to 18 of the GMC’s 22 charges but denies that central charge, insisting he ordered the drug to treat Sutton’s erectile dysfunction. Sutton has rejected those claims and called Freeman a “liar”.

Palov’s recollection of the McDonald's incident was queried. Simon Jackson QC, for the GMC, said that the witness had requested to change his statement to the tribunal and was not claiming to have visited the toilets “with Sutton” in person, but was merely speculating that Sutton would have seen what he had.

“Everybody in that peloton who started that race would have used that toilet,” Palov countered. “Shane would have been there as well. I am not saying we went in there holding hands. My point was that anyone saying they had no [experience] of drug use was absolutely not true.”

“You signed a document that you stated that is not true,” replied Jackson who also noted that the first McDonald's in Scotland did not open until two months after the alleged incident took place, adding that it was in Dundee.

“I will take your word for that,” Palov said. “It was a fast-food place. It was right on the square where the race started. It could have been a different restaurant.”

Palov, who was called as a witness for the defence, was speaking via video link from Australia where he now resides.

He said it was fanciful for Sutton to suggest that he had no experience of doping. “Anyone who has been in and around pro cycling for so long and isn’t aware of anyone taking drugs is absolutely lying,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tony Cooke, the father of 2008 Olympic champion Nicole Cooke, has described UK Anti-Doping as “not fit for purpose”. In a statement to the tribunal, which was released to media overnight on Monday after he had given evidence in person, Cooke said that he and his daughter had separately raised concerns with UKAD and Team Sky’s then head of medicine Dr Steve Peters about Sutton in 2013, but that neither had acted.

Cooke said that he had gone to UKAD and identified to them “an ex team-mate of Sutton’s who wished to be taken on the record as having witnessed Sutton using PEDs and giving UKAD other anecdotal evidence to support this account”.

“I believe that UKAD is not only not fit for purpose, its self-imposed construct and operating constraints, facilitate an avenue that the unscrupulous exploit,” Cooke wrote. “UKAD is a significant part of the problem.”