The former Tour de France winner called the allegations a “malicious” attack on his reputation. – By afp/bicycling.com
Former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins crossed an “ethical line” by using an anti-asthma drug to enhance performance and not just treat medical needs, according to a report released on Monday by British lawmakers.
In response, Wiggins said he is the victim of a “malicious” attempt to smear his reputation and vehemently denied any cheating during a glittering career that spanned five Olympic gold medals.
The report came after Russian hackers revealed in 2016 that Wiggins, the first British cyclist to win the Tour, had applied for therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) to have injections of the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone before three of his biggest races. Those included the 2012 Tour, which Wiggins won.
In a Tuesday interview with the BBC, Wiggins said he only used prescribed drugs for valid medical reasons. When asked if he denied cheating, he said, “A hundred percent. Never, throughout my career.”
“This is malicious,” he added. “This is someone trying to smear me. These allegations, it’s the worst thing to be accused of. It’s also the hardest thing to prove you haven’t done. We’re not dealing in a legal system. I’d have had more rights if I’d murdered someone.”
Triamcinolone is an anti-inflammatory steroid that can also help cyclists shed weight without losing power. Wiggins, 37, denied that he and Team Sky had crossed an ethical line by using the medication. He said he had only used triamcinolone on one occasion other than the three TUEs, which had already been made public. The report, by contrast, said he may have taken it nine times in four years.
“I don’t know where that’s come from,” Wiggins said. “I really would like to know. This is an anonymous source. This is an anonymous person who has said this.”
Wiggins said he had adhered to the rules in place at the time and had been granted permission by the UCI, pro cycling’s governing body, to take the drug. When asked if he would have won the Tour de France without it in 2012, he replied, “Well, had I had an asthma attack, no, probably not.”
Team Sky said it took full responsibility for any mistakes that were made, but strongly refuted the claim that it ever used medication to enhance its riders’ performance. Wiggins, meanwhile, said he would try to repair his damaged legacy.
“I don’t know how I’m going to pick the pieces up with the kids and stuff, and I’m left to do that as well as trying to salvage my reputation from this,” he said. “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
Chris Froome, another Team Sky member and famed Tour de France winner, is facing allegations of his own after he failed an anti-doping test during last year’s Vuelta a España. Froome’s blood showed illegally high levels of Salbutamol, a different asthma medication.