IT feels like for months, every single column I’ve written could have been about the latest developments in the British Cycling and Team Sky saga involving former team doctor, Richard Freeman, the ordering of a banned substance and the denials that there has been any doping going on within the sport in this country.

Each week is as intriguing as it is hard to follow, with the latest revelations some of the most shocking.

Is has emerged that Britain’s anti-doping organisation, UKAD, is being investigated by the World Anti-Doping Agency after it was exposed that UKAD effectively let British Cycling conduct their own private probe, including urine testing, following an abnormal test by a rider.

Then, only days later, it came to light that just months prior to the Rio Olympics, Freeman made a request to the national anti-doping body to share athlete biological data with suggestions in an email being that having knowledge of riders monthly test results would allow for “statistical analysis similar to that performed by anti-doping agencies” and would provide “an opportunity to… give warning of targeted testing.”

In themselves, these revelations are both hugely shocking and deeply worrying. To think this has been going on behind the scenes in British sport is quite an eye-opener.

But it also raises a wider concern of quite how we look at issues such as this in Britain.

When it emerged that Russia had been operating a state-sponsored doping programme, which famously involved dozens upon dozens of athletes, coaches and officials, there was, quite rightly, outrage. No amount of condemnation was enough for Russia, with their actions so damaging that they threatened the credibility of sport as a whole.

Russia, and those who were involved in their doping programme were, quite rightly, pilloried, and the calls for hefty punishment were entirely justified.

The current revelations around Richard Freeman, British Cycling and Team Sky do not diminish the seriousness of Russia’s actions.

But is interesting to compare the commentary.

There are sections of the media who have been both dogged in their pursuit of this story involving Freeman, Team Sky and British Cycling as well as stringent in their criticism of what has been uncovered. But this has by no means been universal.

Just imagine this story about Freeman and his actions had been about Russia. Or China. Or Kenya. Almost certainly, the reception to each development would have been more outraged than the last.

This cannot be said for how this story has been received in this country. There is, of course, many who have followed the saga and have admitted that as a result, they have lost faith in much of what they have seen achieved by British athletes, and in particular British cyclists, over the past decade.

There remains, however, in some quarters, an attitude of ‘it’s something other countries do, not us’ when it comes to doping, scheming and cheating the system.

The seemingly continual revelations around what has been going on with Freeman within cycling should, at the very least, breed a healthy dose of scepticism.

I believe that most British athletes are clean, but it would be naïve in the extreme to assume that all are. Why would anyone assume that British athletes have a stronger moral compass than their peers in Russia or China or anywhere else?

Certainly I don’t believe that there are any widespread doping programmes being administered in this country, unlike some other countries which is why their numbers of dirty athletes are significantly higher, but surely no longer will so many be sucked in by PR campaigns of sports being whiter than white in this country. And I include myself in that.

I maintain my belief that most British athletes are clean, just as I believe most athletes around the world are clean. But we have to look at why we are so much more willing to believe British athletes than we are some others.

AND ANOTHER THING… We’re all well aware of the fact few industries have escaped unscathed from the past year, and sport is, of course, one of those which has suffered damage due to the pandemic.

A report looking at the past year has been released which really hit a nerve with me. An investigation by Telegraph Sport revealed that women’s sport has lost 664 more days than men’s to the pandemic.

This is hugely disappointing, but perhaps not surprising.

In Scotland specifically, when the top flight of men’s football was almost back to normal, bar the crowds, women’s football was being put in the same bracket as the amateur game.

And worldwide, the report found that apart from the WTA tennis tour, women’s teams and leagues were slower to restart in every sport looked at.

In the past decade, women’s sport has made significant progress in terms of gaining equality.

The gap between men’s and women’s sport remains, but it had been slowly but surely closing.

Which is why the setback due to the pandemic is so disheartening.

It has taken decades for women’s sport to begin to make progress and it is utterly demoralising to think that may now be negated.

However, despite the setback, the encouraging news is that we now know that progress can be made and gaining something closer to equality is no longer a pipe dream.

Only time will tell about how long it will take to undo the damage done to women’s sport.

It will not happen overnight, but recent years have proven that women’s sport is both appealing and valuable and so, with effort, we can unquestionably return to the days of pre-pandemic optimism.