Former Sky rider Michael Barry 'questioned the use of Tramadol' with team's management

Canadian former pro Michael Barry says that he expressed concerns about the use of powerful pain killers and sleeping pills at Team Sky - Barry says he knows nothing about the contents of package delivered to Critérium du Dauphiné

Michael Barry chases, Tour de Suisse 2012, stage 3
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

Former Team Sky rider Michael Barry has spoken about the use of medications at the British-registered WorldTour team in the light of recent revelations relating to therapeutic use exemption certificates and the movement of a 'mystery package' to France.

The 41-year-old Canadian rode with Team Sky from 2010 to 2012, before leaving the team after admitting to doping during his time at Lance Armstrong's US Postal squad between 2002 and 2006. Barry said he stopped doping when he left Postal in 2006.

Barry has previously spoken out about the use of powerful painkiller Tramadol at Sky and generally in pro cycling, but has expanded further on his experience with medications on the team during a new interview with the Telegraph, published on Sunday.

"I loved my time with the team, I had a great experience there" said Barry. "But, ethically, I really started questioning the use of the Tramadol, and the sleeping pills, especially when you see the younger riders using this stuff heavily. If we went into a medical clinic and just asked their GP, they probably wouldn’t give these out. And that is not ethical."

>>> British Cycling coach at centre of Team Sky mystery package scandal to be quizzed by MPs

Barry says that he talked with the team regarding his concerns about the use of Tramadol and other strong medications that are an ethical 'grey area'.

After recounting an alleged exchange with one of Sky's doctors where he questions Tramadol use, Barry says that he suggested that records should be kept of medications being used, and by whom.

"I suggested that the team should maintain an inventory of the drugs given out at each race and pass it along to the doctor at the next race. To my knowledge, that was never done."

During the Telegraph interview, Barry says that he is surprised that Sky transported Fluimucil medication from the UK to Bradley Wiggins at the Critérium du Dauphiné – and underlined that he did not have any knowledge of that specific incident.

"They should have been clearer about it, so I’m not surprised by the scrutiny. But the team is big. There is a lot of stuff going on, and I wasn’t at the race," said Barry.

Barry announced his retirement from pro cycling in September 2012, after giving evidence to a US Anti-Doping investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs at US Postal. He was suspended for six months.

Team Sky issued a statement in April 2014 saying that the team has never administered Tramadol to riders for training or racing.

“None of our riders should ride whilst using Tramadol — that’s the policy of this team,” said Sky in its 2014 statement. “Team Sky do not give it to riders whilst racing or training, either as a pre-emptive measure or to manage existing pain.

“We believe that its side effects, such as dizziness and drowsiness, could cause issues for the safety of all riders. We also feel that if a rider has the level of severe pain for its appropriate use they should not be riding.”

The UK Anti-Doping Agency is currently preparing a report as a result of its investigation into Team Sky, British Cycling, the use of TUEs and the medication transported via jiffy bag in 2011.

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Nigel Wynn
Former Associate Editor

Nigel Wynn worked as associate editor on, he worked almost single-handedly on the Cycling Weekly website in its early days. His passion for cycling, his writing and his creativity, as well as his hard work and dedication, were the original driving force behind the website’s success. Without him, would certainly not exist on the size and scale that it enjoys today. Nigel sadly passed away, following a brave battle with a cancer-related illness, in 2018. He was a highly valued colleague, and more importantly, an exceptional person to work with - his presence is sorely missed.