Alan Hubbard

The sighs of relief emanating from the headquarters of British Cycling and Team Sky must have sounded like the explosion of air from a thousand or so punctured bicycle tyres after UK Anti-Doping declared that no charges will be brought against the two bodies over the mysterious Jiffygate affair.

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) have closed their investigation into it, deeming it “impossible” to determine the contents of a Jiffy bag delivered to Sir Bradley Wiggins at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June 2011. It is obviously a matter of some relief to them too.

In summarising their costly 14-month investigation into the ‘Iffy Jiffy’, which included interviewing 37 witnesses and 1,000 man hours, they concluded that their efforts had been "hampered by a lack of accurate medical records being available at British Cycling".

However, the case has now been referred to the General Medical Council, who will be expected to advance their own investigation into the matter.

The affair caused quite a stink at the time and as there seems to be no satisfactory conclusion you might say that the pong may be over but the malady lingers on.

It is certainly a matter of some cynicism, not least among some sceptical British and international cyclists and those journalistic pursuers, notably from the Daily Mail and Sunday Times, who rightly are determined not to let it go.

It does seem that UKAD have conveniently washed their hands of it, and you perhaps might understand why, when it is thought it has made a considerable hole in their annual £8 million ($10.6 million/€9 million) budget from the Government.

But the bad news for UKAD is that they are not out of the financial woods yet.

If Tyson Fury sues UKAD, it could bankrupt the organisation ©Getty Images
If Tyson Fury sues UKAD, it could bankrupt the organisation ©Getty Images

For another messy and highly controversial case has yet be concluded after what seems a ridiculously long delay; and should it go wrong it could not only cost them an awful lot of money but possibly bankrupt the organisation.

Boxer Tyson Fury is now threatening to sue them - as well as the British Boxing Board of Control, who have suspended his licence - over allegations that he took performance-enhancing drugs.

The former world heavyweight champion tested positive for a banned steroid in June 2016, claiming the adverse result came from eating uncastrated wild boar.

However, a legal battle with UKAD over the evidence has meant 29-year-old Fury has not fought for two years since beating Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 and cannot return until a hearing into his ban takes place.

UKAD postponed the hearing last May, scuppering Fury's hopes of a July bout, and another scheduled for next month has been put back until early next year.

"How long must I be held up and kept out of action?" Fury angrily tweeted. "Clear my name and let me return to my former glory. I'm innocent, set me free!

"You're keeping an innocent man from fulfilling his destiny and from providing for his family. Everybody else is dealt with in a few months, why must I be treated any differently?

"Surely there must be a human rights law preventing this from happening to people! Either ban me or set me free as I've been in limbo for a long time! I want to move on with my life!"

Now senior figures at the agency are said to be worried that if, as in the case of Wiggins, Team Sky and British Cycling, no further action is subsequently taken, Fury will carry out his threat to sue for a huge loss of earnings.

As he reportedly makes £5 million ($6.6 million/€5.6 million) or more a fight plus lucrative revenue deals, any potential payout would severely dent UKAD’s finances.

The public body would also face legal costs for its own lawyers and potentially those of the Fury camp.

Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Tyson Fury holds up Billy Joe Saunders' belt at the Paisley Lagoon Centre on December 3, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland ©Getty Images
Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Tyson Fury holds up Billy Joe Saunders' belt at the Paisley Lagoon Centre on December 3, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland ©Getty Images

According to BBC Sport, the issue was discussed by UKAD’s board recently and has been raised in meetings with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

UKAD is believed to have sought guidance from the Government on whether it will effectively underwrite the case.

It is understood that UKAD - and the DCMS - are disinclined to drop the case, amid concerns over the effect such an action would have on the integrity of the anti-doping process.

In addition, there are fears it would signal to sports stars that it is possible to draw out proceedings and effectively undermine the organisation charged with maintaining clean sport.

A rematch with Klitschko, later also beaten by Olympic champion Anthony Joshua, was scheduled for the summer of 2016 but Fury was forced to postpone, then withdraw.

Following reports relating to tests in early 2015, UKAD confirmed in June 2016 that he and cousin Hughie had tested positive for a banned substance - believed to be banned anabolic steroid nandrolone.

Four months later, the Boxing Board of Control suspended his licence after it was known he had also endured problems with mental illness and cocaine since his astonishing win over Klitschko.

Nandrolone acts similarly to the hormone testosterone and the Furys have relied on a defence that they ate uncastrated wild boar - which is naturally high in testosterone - as the reason for failing the test.

Furthermore, an issue over the admissibility of the evidence is now subject to an appeal from the Fury's legal team.

Hughie Fury lands a right shot on Joseph Parker during the WBO World Heavyweight Title fight at Manchester Arena on September 23, 2017 ©Getty Images
Hughie Fury lands a right shot on Joseph Parker during the WBO World Heavyweight Title fight at Manchester Arena on September 23, 2017 ©Getty Images

Oddly enough, two months ago Hughie Fury, 23, was allowed to challenge - unsuccessfully - the New Zealander Joseph Parker in Manchester for cousin Tyson’s confiscated World Boxing Organisation world title.

UKAD said in September that "all parties are awaiting a ruling" from the National Anti-Doping Panel, the independent body responsible for adjudicating on anti-doping disputes in UK sport.

Fury's trainer and uncle Peter Fury expressed his own frustration on Twitter, saying: "Now you see it's virtually impossible to attain justice."

Fury's promoters, Hennessy Sports, said: "It has been a difficult two years but we will not stop until we have cleared Tyson Fury's and Hughie Fury's names."

However, UKAD has insisted it has been pushing for a resolution "as quickly as possible" and what strengthens their case is the fact that Tyson Fury told testers to "eff off" when they arrived to take a further sample at his home, though his uncle subsequently apologised and offered to call them back.

The self-styled Gypsy King could face a two-year ban if found guilty but his team are hopeful he will be cleared – or at worst, any ban would be backdated to November 2015.

He is keen to return to face new International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association heavyweight champion Joshua in what would be  a fight worth more than £50 million (£66.1 million/€56.3 million).

But first, he would have to get back his boxing licence, which may not be easy.

Fury, who has ballooned to 25 stones, claims that a date has been pencilled in for a mega-fight with Joshua at Wembley Stadium in April of next year.

“I could fight Joshua fight with one hand right now and beat him,” he boasts. "You see, I'm a boxer, a skilled boxer and muscle-beach men like him are made for me. It would be an easy fight.”

However, the equally big fight with the doping body may not be quite so easy - though it certainly will be costly to the loser.