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Chair of UK Sport Katherine Grainger 'disappointed' by cycling TUEs claim

Credit: ITV News

The UK’s most decorated female Olympian and now the most powerful woman in British Sport, Dame Katherine Grainger, says she would be “disappointed” if a team exploited the Therapeutic Use Exemption system, whereby athletes can take banned, performance enhancing drugs if there is a good medical reason to do so.

Comments made by Shane Sutton, Sir Bradley Wiggins' former coach, seem to suggest Team Sky made use of TUEs.

In a television documentary he argued TUEs were a legitimate way of achieving “marginal gains” if their use did not break anti-doping rules.

There are many who do not share his relaxed approach to this grey area in sport, especially from a team who proclaimed its signature was not just racing clean but racing ethically too.

Despite this apparent admission, Grainger, now chair of UK Sport which funds Britain’s Olympic teams, says she does not believe the tactic is systemic in British Sport.

The Scottish cyclist Katie Archibald is Britain’s rising track star, winning two golds and a silver at this month’s Manchester World Cup.

Already an Olympic Gold medallist in GB’s team pursuit in Rio – the rider is keen that cycling’s troubled past is behind it.

However - those responsible for the controversies that have hung around her sport, including bullying and the use of TUEs, clearly irritate her.

The bullying claims centred around Jess Varnish who is now suing both British Cycling and UK Sport for sex discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal.

The CEO at British Cycling, Julie Harrington, told me she is hopeful Varnish will “do a deal” because it is in everybody’s best interests that the case does not see the inside of a tribunal room.

There is a lot at stake for Harrington’s counterpart at UK Sport, Liz Nicholl.

If it goes ahead the panel will consider whether Varnish, formerly a funded rider, has the same rights as an employee.

If she succeeds, the implications for UK Sport are profound and could lead to less opportunities for the next generation of cycling talent.