The father of 2008 Olympic road race champion Nicole Cooke has told a medical tribunal he raised concerns over allegations of drug use within cycling with UK Anti-Doping and British Cycling seven years ago but was left concerned they would not be acted on.
Tony Cooke told the tribunal he had a two-hour meeting with UKAD investigators in 2013 to discuss a number of concerns, including some relating to then British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton, but was unsatisfied with the outcome.
The revelations came as Cooke appeared as a witness for former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman at his fitness-to-practice tribunal.
Freeman has admitted 18 of 22 charges against him, but denies the General Medical Council's central charge of ordering testosterone "knowing or believing" it was to be used to dope a rider, claiming instead it was to treat Sutton's erectile dysfunction. Sutton has rejected the claim.
Cooke said his daughter was contacted by UKAD investigators after her retirement in 2013, when she had attacked drug cheats in the sport in an impassioned speech, but said he was unhappy with the response to their meeting.
"I was concerned that it wouldn't be followed up," Cooke said. "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."
Under cross-examination from Simon Jackson QC, counsel for the GMC, Cooke said several of the issues discussed related to Sutton.
"You gave a number of disclosures?" Jackson asked.
"Yes," Cooke replied.
"A number of concerns in relation to Sutton?"
Jackson quoted from an email which Cooke later sent to Andy Parkinson, then chief executive of UKAD, in which he wrote: ""Together... Nicole and I believed (Sutton) to be a character we could never trust.
"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 prime evidence he is certainly innocent and we're being overly cautious."
Cooke said it was part of a longer email.
"I am giving Sutton the benefit of the doubt there," he said. "Innocent until proven guilty. Not pre-judging the investigation."
The hearing, being held remotely amid the lockdown, was dogged by technical problems during the morning after Dr Freeman's QC Mary O'Rourke said she had been notified by BT that her phone connection was to be disabled.
Ex-rider Kvetoslav Palov, a former team-mate of Sutton's, had been due to give evidence from Australia at the start of the day but, given the time difference coupled with the delays, he is now due to appear on Tuesday when the tribunal continues.