The British cycling coach who delivered the infamous Jiffy bag to Team Sky during the Critérium du Dauphiné has said that his name has been sullied and that he is unable to get a job within sport now.
Simon Cope was sent by British Cycling in June 2011 to fly a package to Team Sky from the national governing body’s headquarters in Manchester to the race in France.
The contents of the package have never been confirmed, but its revelation in 2016 prompted an anti-doping investigation into Team Sky that has failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing.
A Parliamentary report, however, concluded that Sky had acquired Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) to use banned the corticosteroid triamcinolone “to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical need,” and that the team did “cross the ethical line.”
Team Sky have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Cope worked for Bradley Wiggins’ eponymous development squad, Team Wiggins, as a sports director until it was disbanded at the end of 2019.
His subsequent quest to continue working within the sport have been fruitless, though, with the 53-year-old telling Cycling Weekly that his name has been blemished.
“My name has been tarnished, I think,” he said. “I went for an interview with Team Sunweb to become a sports director of their development team. I fit the criteria, but they said because I have been involved in a doping investigation they can’t take the chance on me.
“I applied for three jobs at British Cycling, one being elite road race manager that was given to Erick Roswell. I wasn’t given an interview and when asked why they said that they had a lot of applicants from various different sports and they wanted someone with a lot more experience than myself.
“I’m happy for Erick – I think he’s a good guy. I think British Cycling don’t want to touch the old guard. They think we are all poison.
“I also applied for some different jobs in motor sport, because the logistics are similar to moving a cycling team around. But all you have to do is Google my name and it [anti-doping case] comes up.”
Cope has tried to get work for Team Ineos and Bahrain-McLaren, hoping that his relationship with the respective team managers Dave Brailsford and Rod Ellingworth would help his cause.
“How do I clear my name?” he asked. “I really don’t know. Who turns around and says there was no wrongdoing here, and these people were not involved in everything?
“There’s been no support from anyone. I didn’t think the story would blow up as big as this. It was a non-story really and people got on the bandwagon.
“It was amazing how in the papers we were viewed as a mass-murderers.”
Team Wiggins finished at the end of 2019 because they were unable to secure enough financial backing.
Cope was sad to see the development team cease, having progressed a number of riders to the WorldTour, including Scott Davies, James Knox, Gabriel Cullaigh and Mark Donovan.
He would like to set up a replacement team in the future. “It was a shame the team finished. It was a very good stepping stone for the lads,” he continued.
“I am trying to put the feelers out myself to start something, another U23 team.
“I’ve not seen or spoken to Brad in ages, but I think he would put his name to a team again. But first of all I need to attract someone to give £300k- £400k to sponsor a team.”