The former British Cycling and Team Sky head coach Shane Sutton was “absolutely lying” when he told parliament that he had no knowledge of doping in the sport, a former teammate told a medical tribunal on Tuesday.
The Czech rider Kvetoslav Palov, who was on the ANC-Halfords team with Sutton in 1987, claimed that Sutton had been given £10,000-worth of performance-enhancing drugs that year, which had helped him keep going in the Tour de France.
Palov also alleged that at the Tour of Britain the following month he and Sutton had used a toilet at a McDonald’s in Edinburgh that had “syringes all over the place from bike riders”.
However Palov’s account of that incident was described as “misleading” by Simon Jackson QC, the counsel for the General Medical Council, because there was no evidence that Sutton had used the toilet. Jackson also pointed out that the first McDonald’s in Scotland had only opened two months after the 1987 Tour of Britain – in Dundee.
Palov was giving evidence as part of the fitness-to-practice medical tribunal of former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman. Freeman has already accepted 18 of the 22 charges against him, including ordering banned testosterone in 2011. However he denies the central charge that it was for a rider – and says it was to treat Sutton’s erectile dysfunction, something Sutton denies.
Palov said he felt compelled to come forward after Sutton told a digital, culture, media and sport select committee into doping in sport in 2016 that he had no personal experience of being around any doping, either as a rider or coach, in his cycling career.
“Shane said he had no knowledge of drugs in sport,” said Palov. “Given I was a witness to drugs in the Tour de France, syringes in the toilet, it’s a bit hard to say that.”
Palov also told the tribunal that a ANC-Halfords team helper, Angus Fraser – who was later accused of having injected teenage cyclists with steroids without their knowledge – had “spent £10,000 on drugs for Shane Sutton”.
“Anyone claiming he was a professional cyclist and never saw anyone taking drugs is lying,” added Palov. “Anyone who has been in and around pro cycling for so long and isn’t aware of anyone taking drugs is absolutely lying.
“The toilet incident in Edinburgh, there was also an incident at the Tour de France, rumours going around that quite a lot of money had been spent on keeping Shane in the race,” he added.
However under cross-examination from Jackson, Palov admitted that his original statement about the Edinburgh toilet incident – “Shane and I went to a toilet there and we saw syringes all over the place from bike riders” – may not have been completely accurate.
“I requested that be changed slightly,” admitted Palov, who said that English was not his first language. “There were syringes all over the place. But I had no reason to go there at the same time as Shane. I wouldn’t say I went there with Shane in person.”
“Why did you say: ‘Shane and I went there to the toilets before the start of the first stage’?” asked Jackson. “That suggests you went together. Would you agree?”
“Well yes, the way you put it,” replied Palov. “But to tell you the truth, he may well have been there at the same time.”
Palov also denied an allegation from Jackson that his inconsistencies about the toilet incident meant he had, in effect, submitted a false statement. “I am not saying we went there holding hands, it is not a false statement,” he said. “I’m not here to crucify Shane. You’re trying to play word games. That is ridiculous.”
Meanwhile in a written statement to the tribunal, Tony Cooke, the father of former British Olympic champion Nicole, said that he had provided UK Anti-Doping with evidence that Sutton had used drugs.
He said that he had gone to Ukad in 2013 “and identified to them the ex teammate 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”.
However he said that Ukad had failed to sufficiently act and was “a significant part of the problem”.
The tribunal continues.