The father of the 2008 Olympic road race champion, Nicole Cooke, raised concerns about alleged drug use in cycling with UK Anti-Doping and British Cycling that he felt were not acted on, a medical tribunal was told on Monday.
Tony Cooke said he went to Ukad in 2013 with a number of disclosures and also raised concerns about the British Cycling technical director, Shane Sutton. Cooke said he left a meeting feeling his evidence would “not be followed up”.
Cooke was acting as a witness for the former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor, Richard Freeman, who is accused of ordering testosterone for an unnamed rider.
Freeman has admitted to buying 30 sachets of Testogel but says they were to treat Sutton’s erectile dysfunction. Sutton has rejected the claims and called Freeman a “liar”. He has also denied doping during his career.
Under cross-examination from Simon Jackson QC, counsel for the General Medical Council, Cooke admitted his dissatisfaction with a two-hour meeting with Ukad investigators. He said: “I was concerned that it wouldn’t be followed up. I was surprised when the officers for Ukad told me they could not give me a copy of the evidence I had provided. I felt that was somehow not following natural justice.”
“You gave a number of disclosures,” Jackson asked.
“Yes,” replied Cooke.
“A number of concerns in relation to Sutton?”
Jackson then read Cooke part of an email he later sent to the Ukad chief executive, Andy Parkinson. “Together … Nicole and I believed [Sutton] to be a character we could never trust,” it read. “Possibly we were overly cautious. Certainly neither Nicole or myself have seen him use performance-enhancing drugs. Nor has he ever suggested to Nicole that she should. So on prima evidence he is certainly innocent and we’re being overly cautious.”
Cooke claimed that was only one part of a longer email. “I am giving Sutton the benefit of the doubt there,” he said. “Innocent until proven guilty. Not prejudging the investigation. Mr Parkinson also had all the suspicions I had raised.”
Earlier Cooke told the tribunal that Sutton had found an empty phial of the banned drug EPO in a car at the Five Valleys Road Race while the national coach of Wales.
“Your informant said Mr Sutton was very angry about this being left in the car in which he was travelling?” Jackson asked Cooke. “He thought it had been left there deliberately by a rider?
“That’s correct,” replied Cooke. “My own interpretation of it at the time was one of his [Sutton’s] innocence.”
“You also say you felt uncomfortable that the Welsh national coach would have recognised EPO in a phial?” Jackson asked. “Mr Sutton was obviously able to recognise it according to the account given to me,” replied Cooke.
The tribunal continues.