• Ride4fun

    TA was the wrong drug for Wiggo’s symptoms as described by Wiggo above.

    Why was Wiggo not hospitalized if his symptoms were bad enough to be prescribed TA?

    Is there a malpractice suit against his over prescribing doc?

    And yes, the performance enhancing steroid shot was legal. The way slavery was legal.

    • Anto, NZ

      I think it depends on what type of specialist he saw, a respiratory physician, an immunologist (allergies) or sport physician. Different specialties can can have different approaches to similar problems.

    • MattF

      At least we now know why Team Sky refused to join the MPCC.

      • Ride4fun

        Did the ethical “doctor” tell Wiggo what the side effects of an injection of legal, performance enhancing steroids would be?

        That for weeks Wiggo would lose weight, gain muscle, recover faster, have more energy and have reduced inflammation?

        And Wiggo once having discovered the benefits, er, side effects of an injection of legal, performance enhancing steroids in the first GT, he would never have used it again.

        But Wiggo used TA 2 more times before GT’s and had to suffer thru the side effects of TA.

        His acting above is reminiscent of Drugstrong.

    • Dave

      I don’t know if Geert Leinders (Sky doctor at the time, who received full support from Brailsford and Wiggins in the face of revelations about his previous work at Rabobank) has been struck off or whatever it’s termed in Belgium, but he has been banned for life from working with athletes or at events in any WADA Code signatory sport.

      Mario Zorzoli was suspended (for the second time) from his role as the UCI’s chief medical officer in early 2015, and then he resigned (not sure if jumped or pushed) a few months after being reinstated.

  • GH0STP1X3L

    Wiggins can try and “paint a picture” of his statement of “I’ve never had an injection” in his autobiography as having a context that is not specifically declared (i.e. “All the questions at that time were very much loaded towards doping.”), but the bottom line is that the statement is a lie. So, why should I believe what he is saying now? Oh, that’s right… I don’t. Mr. Wiggins, you’re full of it.

    • Ride4fun

      “I’ve been a life-long sufferer of asthma and I went to my team doctor at the time and we went, in turn, to a specialist to see if there’s anything else we could do to cure these problems,” Wiggins said.

      I didn’t see listed any standard asthma drugs being used by Wiggo in the days or weeks leading up to his ‘roid injections.

      Wiggo’s new nickname: Wroido.

  • pedr09

    Turn him over, he’s done.

    • Ride4fun

      In the interview I detect a bit of Roid Rage.

  • Rizwan_Ahmed

    Wiggins says – He followed the rules for the Anti Doping agency and said he didnt invent them and he took them to be on a level playing field.

    This is the same argument used by cyclists who doped, especially those who raced in the 50% hematocrit rule era. The rule then said your hematocrit shouldnt cross 50%. This does not mean that you load yourself with EPO upto 50% Hematocrit and tell the world that you didnt break any rule.
    Legally they were not doping as their hematocrit wasnt above 50 but that doesnt mean they were clean.

    Super disappointed with Wiggins and definitely his tour victory is now tainted. He accuses Millar and Jorge Jaschke of abusing the drug because its so convenient to bracket them because of their history. This is hypocrisy because Wiggo and SKY clearly abused the TUE mechanism.

    • jules

      legally they were doping in the 50% era, if they injected EPO. there was still a rule that you couldn’t inject it.

      but yes, I agree Wiggins’ use of corticosteroids is similar to cyclists loading up to 50% EPO in that era. the UCI drew a line in the sand and cyclists worked within that boundary.

      the problem is that the UCI keep drawing 2 lines in the sand:
      1. the strict line that is what most cycling fans hold pro cyclists up to – i.e. “pure as driven snow”, no needles, panne e acqua
      2. the more practical line that is “OK, this is what the UCI is going to let us get away with, so it’s what my competitors will probably be doing” which was previously EPO injections up to 50% haematocrit and today is TUEs for corticosteroids.

      it’s easy for fans like us to demand cyclists take approach #1 there. but the reality is, as long as they know #2 is acceptable to the authorities, they know that following #1 is just penalising themselves.

      you can’t just blame the athlete here. that’s oversimplifying it. the UCI/WADA have contributed to an uneven playing field that encourages this kind of soft doping.

      • Dave

        And of course it’s worth pointing out that the 50% rule was just an attempt to control things in the absence of the proper test which came later on, as anyone who read the USADA Reasoned Decision on the USPS riders would know.

        Because it wasn’t a proper doping test, it had to be justified on the grounds of protecting the rider’s health and could only result in them not starting that race rather than a proper doping suspension.

        Time to take other actions to “protect the riders’ health” once again – ban* steroid TUEs in competition. The UCI has an important role to play in making sure that teams are not coercing riders into risking their health (look up some of the side effects) just to start a bike race before they have fully recovered from illness.

        * EDIT: it wouldn’t be a ‘ban’ as such but just a refusal to issue.

        • jules

          the thing is, it’s perfectly logical that the pros would be happy with that. they are only abusing TUEs, or EPO, to win. it’s one thing if they’re doing it to gain an advantage, but another if they’re doing it to keep the playing field level. let’s face it – it’s mostly the latter.

          the 50% rule was welcomed by a lot of pros, who were unhappy with having to turn their blood into syrup just to compete. riders like Wiggo, who seemed to have enough talent to win on his merits, would logically (I’d speculate) have supported a stricter approach to TUEs and steroid taking if they knew competitors were subject to it as well.

          we ask a lot when we demand one athlete hold back from ‘soft doping’, but turn a collective blind eye to others doing the same. apart from being unfair, it’s also inevitably ineffective as a pressure tactic to encourage pros to ride clean.

  • PaulG

    Amazed that everyone is concentrating predominantly on the no needle comment. Weirder is the level playing field, the ‘look, Brad you’re on track here, you’re – you’re the favourite to win this race, now we need to make sure the next three weeks is…is there anything we can help with at the moment?’ Seriously??? What barely legal things do we need to do to get you a step closer to the win!

    Alot of media is saying he didn’t break the rules. It’s more an ethics thing. Total bull. If he didn’t need the drugs for proper medical reasons, he, the doctors and the team broke the rules. Time for sky to get rid of the smoke machine and take a hammer to the mirrors.

    Armstrong was the solution to the Festina era, Sky were the solution to the Armstrong era. What line of pr and bull are we meant to believe next?

    Damn those pesky Russians for getting their own back :-)) It doesn’t make them clean but I’m intrigued by the ‘state sponsored’ element that was pushed endlessly. Is state sponsored doping worse than corporation sponsored doping?

    The cycling merry-go-round just keeps spinning.

    • Dave

      > Is state sponsored doping worse than corporation sponsored doping?

      The only state sponsored element that’s relevant here is the BBC stepping in to run BW’s spin campaign.

      The fact that some Russians may or may not be doping is not a good excuse for others.

      • PaulG

        That was part of my point. There has been some comment about the Russians trying to deflect from their athletes findings. Where as I see doping as cheating irrespective of the funding body!

        • Dave

          And unless Sir Bradley Wiggins, Knight of the Full Syringe, paid full rate for the air time it would appear he’s getting the best of both worlds.

  • velocite

    Here we go again. There does seem to be deafening agreement that Wiggins gained used a performance enhancing drug and also that its use was within the rules. So we focus on the wrong doer Wiggins, and would like to put him in the stocks. But the real problem is apparently in the rules. I and others have commented in other articles on this topic that routine publication of all TUEs would improve the situation, but if this triamcinolone acetonide is such a strong ped why is it allowed? We should grill the UCI about that.

    • Dave

      I agree.

      If you’re so sick that you need stuff that strong you should get the TUE from the UCI, but only for out of competition use.

      For the sake of the rider’s health (a line which worked with the old 50% haematocrit rule before there was an EPO test) they should be given a couple of weeks for the treatment to work fully, and to prevent them from being pressured by their team to return to racing too quickly.

  • TheBear

    I don’t think the argument regarding the timing of the injections is fair. By definition, if you’re coming up to your main target for the season you will be more inclined to make sure you’re not sick/suffering any ill affects of a medical condition at all.

    And imagine writing that book, in 2012. It would have been tantamount to a doping admission in the atmosphere of the time if he’d so much as mentioned the needles in passing.

    • jules

      I agree. a TUE is there to ensure athletes can compete at their best while suffering from a genuine health issue. it’s not about keeping them on life support. it’s no coincidence he took the injections close to GTs, but not for the reason some cynics are suggesting.

      I’m disappointed to learn of Wiggo’s TUE use, but I struggle to see the difference between AFL players who swear black and blue that they touched the footy to get the umpire to call it a point, when the replay shows they clearly did not. those players are just doing the same thing as Wiggo – working the rules to their own maximum benefit. their justification is clearly “it’s the ump’s responsibility to call it correctly”.

      yet there are no exposes on AFL players doing that, no one questions their character or ethics.

      • mick

        Understand your point but the stakes just aren’t as high enough in an AFL game compared to a Grand Tour win. 1 point here and there in a game, versus global fame and millions of bucks (some of which didn’t make Froome’s pocket for a while either, but thats another beer for another patio).

  • TheBear

    Why is there no mention of the UCI and WADA being at best complicit, and at worst the architects of these situations? I feel like this is a massive oversight, and poor journalism. How does this soap opera coverage focussing entirely on the individual rider/celebrity/team move our sport forward or contribute to the call for change? The riders and teams can only work within the constraints they are given. Missed the mark on this one I think

  • Alan Walker

    They found a loophole. Legal? Ethical? Fair?

    • Gene Sanders

      PaulG said it above, “If he didn’t need the drugs for proper medical reasons, he, the doctors and the team broke the rules.”

  • Cam

    While I don’t condone it, this is sport. Find me an elite sport where they are not at the very least pushing the rules to the very limit.

    • jules

      Dyson Heppell has just returned from a doping suspension to Essendon FC and is being touted as a candidate for captain. what does that say about the Dons’ attitude towards their doping and suspension? I’d say they are steadfast in believing they were perfectly entitled to dope the way they did.

      everyone seems very pleased for the bloke and the media overwhelmingly treats the returning Dons players almost as heroes.

      meanwhile in pro cycling..

      • Dave

        I don’t think they have a high enough embarrassment threshold to dump Watson from the captaincy.

        Maybe at some of the other clubs which do have a ‘no dickheads’ policy.

  • Superpilot

    No one here has stated they are a doctor. Granted, the drug may be strong. Has anyone got proof of the level of dosage? How does it compare to what was intentionally used in the past?

    Is it possible that it is a genuine medical concern, and even that the dosage was of a minimal amount, or is it not?

    I’m playing devils here, I just see these massive assumptions all through peoples comments (everywhere).

    I like what Sky (and any openly anti PED team or athlete) stand for. Sure, I dislike their tactics from an entertainment perspective, but accept that is the method required to achieve their admirable results in their targeted races. To many it appears that they have strangled the tour, but there must be the realization the fact that it is a successful strategy means that is the way the tour must be ridden to be won? As stated, I hate watching it also, but it works.

    It really is clear to me that the majority of cycling fans wish for them to be found wanting. I think people find any dominance as suspicious, we have seen it all before, that’s true. Nothing better also than to find the pure are dirty.

    If this was some pro-conti rider and team, even holding the same ideals, it would be forgivable to many I think. But I think many have finally found the nail they can bang on about ad-infinitum to cast suspicion on all past and future performances.

    These may be justified, it may be a genuine wool over the eyes moment. However it may be that this is a geniune error in one particular comment. I guess what I’m saying is it apparent the majority are ready to jump hard to the former conclusion, rather than the latter.

    It just shows the lack of faith these days, and the willingness for sensational events to bring down tall poppies in mainstream society.

    He had TUE’s. He won some BIG races. He made some disingenuine or mistaken comments.

    The celebrities in so many other sports make stupid comments. Some are downright hateable in their personality, what they have said or didn’t say, or they have done or not done in their private lives. But they can still be successful and are forgiven their faults by their fans for the fact they are good at their sport. Not riders, we cast aspertions when we only have the comments and the comments alone to go on. Good grief.

    No illegality proven, it may come later, but for now none is proven, you just have a comment in poor taste or error, and that is a moralistic rather than legal issue.

    Don’t take it personally, it’s just my opinion, and I can understand the pov of most of you.

    I’ve always wanted to use this in a cycling related discussion:

    • jules

      based on comments by some medical experts on the topic, my interpretation is that:
      1. Wiggo (and others) may well have suffered from genuine medical conditions that justified a TUE, but
      2. there are various options for treating conditions like asthma and they chose the most extreme, potent treatment that just happened to serve as a performance-enhancing drug.

      it’s basically legalised doping.

      • Wily_Quixote

        Intramuscular triamcinolone is not a standard therapy for asthma.

        The standard treatments are inhaled corticosteroids for maintenance. Intramuscular/IV therapy is reserved for refractory acute exacerbations – even then the oral route is preferred.

        This is what the Australian therapeutic guidelines has to say about effective treatment regimes for adult asthmatics:

        “Ongoing treatment aims to use the lowest dose of drugs that maintains asthma symptom control and prevents flare-ups. If inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are indicated, low-dose regular treatment with ICS (plus short-acting beta2 agonist [SABA] as needed [i.e. ventolin puffer – my clarification]) is more effective than intermittent treatment and more likely to achieve control with a lower total dose of ICS.

        Low-dose regular ICS is more effective than intermittent treatment.”

        IM corticosteroids are not indicated for asthma control, particularly without a background in acute and severe exacerbations of asthma manifesting with significant airflow limitation and requiring hospital treatment.

        What kind of respiratory physician is prescibing IM triamcinolone for patients without acute and severe asthma? Has Wiggins been demonstrating severe airflow limitation and bronchoconstriction? Surely someone would have noticed him reaching for his puffer up the Col d’hardass at some stage in his career?

        British Thoracic Society (BTS), Scottish
        Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN). British guideline on the
        management of asthma: a national clinical guideline (SIGN 141).
        Edinburgh: SIGN; 2014.

        Australian Electronic Therapeutic Guidelines (2016)

    • Neuron1

      Superpilot: very funny picture. Regarding your comments: 1) I’m a doctor 2) Glucocorticoids are performance enhancers based on published literature that was available prior to the 2011 TDF. Search K Collomp, “Short term glucocorticoid intake combined with intense training on performance and hormonal responses”;A Arlettaz, “Effects of short term prednisolone intake during submaximal exercise” and M Duclos, “Glucocorticoids: a doping agent”. I believe that after reviewing this literature it will become very clear that this class of drugs are powerful ergogenic agents and their use is clearly beneficial to the rider using them. It would surprise me that the team physicians and performance specialists were not aware of this literature since Sky have been so proactive in implementing “new” ideas into their training regimens, ie warm downs, beet juice, protein/carb supplements immediately following races, etc. Also, see my post below regarding treatment of allergies and asthma as recommended by the British NHS.

      • Superpilot

        I know, good eh!

        But seriously, I know the drugs are bad mmmkay, but does anyone know the dosages? That’s what I’m saying, the dosages for true allergen usage compared to those of performance enhancement intentions are possibly different. Does the TUE state the dosage? If it does not, no one could say whether it is a large or small dosage, correct?

        Everyone is bounding it around as facts, when actually, they are not holding themselves to the same high burden of proof they ask of others, such as Froomes performance data. Like, we can accuse and gnash teeth when we have an idea of murkiness, but they must provide absolute concrete proof of performance, with which we will claim is not irrefutable and will question at every step. I.e. a very one sided ledger.

        Secondly as a doctor you would be familiar with the need for urgency in some patients causing an escalation in the required treatment. They knew the races were coming up, their star lead was struggling with allergies, hence jump straight to the hard stuff, with all legal requirements met, in order to clear it up before the drop of the flag? Not saying it is right, or even defending them as I’m not a fan of theirs, but just saying that there may have been legitimate reasons that people are brushing over as they lunge for the jugular?

        P.s. I know these drugs for I’m athsmatic and actually just finished a course of prednisone for bronchitis, although the performance reduction having a flu far outweighed the performance enhancement in my case sadly! I did lose weight, but correlation is not causation and all that!

        P.p.s. my comments in no way a criticism of CT. You guys have to report it, I’m also inclined to agree as to the questions, but just I guess I have too much benefit of the doubt in my bones. The cynicism in cycling fandom is kinda rubbing off on me, time for me to follow cyclocross, pro-conti or something. That Schaal Sels sure was an awesome race…

        • Neuron1

          Great arguments. The performance enhancing doses tested were oral methyl prednisolone 60mg qd for 7 days. Sounds similar to the doses Froome was using. Wiggins used triamcinolone, which is a long acting preparation. Small doses of dexamethasonse did not seem to be beneficial. Studies came to the following conclusions: 1) Decreased feelings of fatigue during submaximal performance, ie long stages. 2) Positive influence on mood, on the second day of the protocol subjects had more vigor. 3) Significant supplementary increase in glucose after exercise and mobilization of free fatty acids and 4) recuperation on the second day with suppressed feelings of fatigue during submaximal exercise. The feelings of decreased fatigue are likely due to increased brain dopamine in regions responsible for motor activity.Also, because of testing issues, once an athlete has taken these drugs, it is impossible to tell if they are continuing to use them during the race. There are several of studies in rats showing increased running activity after receiving corticoids, and they don’t even win a blue vase, just get euthanized.

          I also doubted the benefits of GC use in these circumstances and at these doses, but on doing the reading have changed my mind. These drugs used systemically should be banned from competition and if an athlete needs them, he/she should be withdrawn from competition.

        • mick

          Superpilot, share your sentiments on proof of doubt, but we fans love to get frothy at the mouth on opinion leads facts. But dissecting some of the comments by Wiggins on the Marr Show, and really, that’s all we have got at the moment, he said he was really struggling before the ’12 TDF, hence the need for the TUE, and a powerful one at that as Nueron1 has enlightened. Some of the eagle eyed peeps here have gone back through the associated press statements and at the time, Wiggins was saying he was on top of the world. So, black and white, do we believe Wiggins story now, in hindsight. I’m sure he’d love us to.

          • Superpilot

            You kinda prove my point.

            Have you ever seen a team leader and favorite say they are not feeling fantastic before a race?

            Other than Contador, he really likes to come in with doubt on his competitors minds and try to surprise them with attacks. Bluffing before a race is totally the norm. That would be a fantastic way to show your team and your competitors that you had a weakness.

            I mean, I totally have doubt as well, but yeah, it is used to prove he was lying, but doesn’t really, does it.

            • mick

              Well, now that Brailsford has waded in, yes it does show that he was lying or one of them is at least. Even more so, Brailsford offers his own version of events on the situation. He claims Wiggins took the TUEs before the illness revealed itself. That way, according to big Dave, you stay on top of whatever is coming and maintain your fitness. (I mean, it’s pretty easy to predict when you’re going to get sick).

              Mmm, c’mon fellas, it’s not THAT hard to get your stories straight before your public statements.

  • Neuron1

    The use of systemic corticosteroids (CS) by Brad Wiggins
    (BW) and Chris Froome (CF), under the direction and guidance of Team Sky
    medical staff is proving problematic to the No Needles/No doping, we are living to a higher moral standard mantra. The
    NHS of Great Britain has position papers on the use of injectable CS is dealt
    with in guidelines for the treatment of asthma and allergies. The progression
    of treatment for allergies is oral H1 antihistamines, topical nasal H1
    antihistamines, topical intranasal corticosteroids (“minimal systemic
    absorption for mometasone and fluticasone”) systemic glucocorticoids (“short
    term rescue medication for uncontrolled symptoms on conventional
    pharmacotherapy and should be used briefly in combination with topical nasal CS”)
    and finally, “injected preparations are not recommended unless under
    exceptional circumstances” and “compared
    with other available treatments, the risk benefit profile for the intramuscular
    CS is poor.” (Team Sky’s first shot at winning a Grand Tour does not appear in
    the fine print here under the definition of exceptional.) The article goes on
    to present grades of recommendations for the various treatments. Nowhere are
    injected CS even listed.

    Very briefly, to summarize
    The use of injected or even oral CS for the treatment of asthma follows a similar
    stepwise progression. The medications, listed in order of therapy are inhaled
    beta-2 agonists, ipratropium bromide, oral beta-2 agonists , theophyllines;
    inhaled steroids, cromolyns; long acting
    beta 2 agonists. Each of the drugs/classes should be added on to the prior
    classes for additional effect. When none of this is working effectively oral CS
    are to be added, for a short course of therapy. At no point is the use of
    triamcinolone recommended in the progression. In fact, there is a position
    paper that states it should only be used in patients with “severe, chronic,
    difficult to control asthma” and that biologically active levels of TA are
    present for “weeks to months”.

    The bottom line, is that the use of large doses of long
    acting CS is not justified by the medical literature that was present at the
    time. The fact that a TUE was applied for and received is and was a convenient
    cover for the use of a class of drugs long known to provide “benefits” beyond
    those of helping deal with allergies or asthma.

    The release of this information regarding cycling is both
    disheartening and heartening simultaneously. On one hand, that BW was placed in
    a position to feel the need to use this class of drugs is very discouraging. He
    presents a great story of rising from poor circumstances to greatness by his
    hard work and perseverance, but this information definitely tarnishes that
    image. That Team Sky put him in this position is even worse. Sky gamed the
    system, even though technically it was “legal” to use the drug, it stinks of a
    rotten moral core. Conversely, despite the use of CS by BW and CF, the recent Grand
    Tours have been more closely fought which appears to show that doping in the
    peloton is much less than in the recent past. (The corticosteroids used by CF in
    2014 could not even help him ride better in the rain over cobblestones.)
    Interestingly, there are no American, Italian, Spanish, French, Belgian or
    Polish cyclists that rode the Olympics that applied for TUE’s, based on the
    released Fancy Bears data.

    • Tom Macmillan

      I did a quick search of Medline and found an alarming scarcity of published research about intramuscular triamcinolone being used to treat asthma. The few studies that mentioned it concerned extremely ill children.

  • Flash

    What the hell is going on with everyone.
    I am not the biggest Wiggo fan in the world – actually not much a fan at all really.
    But this guy hasn’t failed a drug test, what he did is legal, so that should be the end of the useless discussion.
    Sure it might be pushing the limits a bit, but isn’t that alot of sports at the top professional level.
    So now everyone has a problem, with the rules and what is allowed, he didn’t write the rule book, he just read it and played by them.
    And his book mentions a no needle policy blah blah – so what. How many people have actually read the book. I haven’t.
    Lets get on with bigger issues in the world, rather than beat up on poor old wiggo.

    • MattF

      ‘Hasn’t failed a drug test’ – where have I heard that line before?

  • JoshLyons

    Kent University’s Dr. John Dickinson, who has worked with more than 1,000 athletes with breathing problems, said he had never prescribed triamcinolone to an athlete.

    “That sort of medication is typically reserved for individuals who are in a very severe asthma response and are in need of emergency care which would suggest that particular individual may be not fit and well to compete in a race at that point in time,” said Dickinson.

    “I’ve never been myself involved with an athlete that’s needed to go that far in terms of that sort of treatment for an asthmatic condition.

  • jdv

    “Governing body permits Doctor to prescribe patient with medication to treat diagnosed condition; patient completes all documentation correctly.” Yawn.

    The rules and procedures are documented and were followed. Anyone who thinks Brad, Sky, his victories or cycling is tainted is mistaken. This is sport, this is every rider, this is every team, this is bike design, this is riding a bike right on the weight limit, this is using unsanctioned equipment still in development. Welcome to pushing the boundaries TO the line; explore the margins and you will find gains.

    • PaulG

      The critical question is, did they take it to the line or cross the line. If he didn’t need the medication and if it gave him a performance benefit, he has crossed the line. Or more accurately they crossed the line – Wiggo & some members of the Sky medical team at a minimum. UCI & WADA could tighten their processes too to avoid this.
      Any medical folks know in what circumstances a TUE could be deemed necessary without giving a performance advantage to the athlete?

      • jdv

        There is an argument that Brad, like all riders and members of the general public have to accept the opinion of qualified experts. The same as they trust Pinarello to make safe frames and their mechanics to ensure they meet the regulations. He is responsible for what is in his body, as per the rules. Potentially he was given bad advice, or advice from someone looking to over-prescribe to gain an edge. However, what was done (and it sounds thorough, and likely well documented within the team) was within the rules. If someone lied or fabricated the evidence to achieve the relevant prognosis to result in the prescription then that is a violation of the rules; the TUE wouldn’t be valid and the line would have been crossed.

        Whether any of that documentation will come be published is unlikely and there is of course medical confidentiality which should be respected, as we would expect ours to be.

        There is no doubt that the TUE process is broken. no doubt it is being abused and no doubt that Cycling is not the only sport where this is happening. However SOME doubt that this is an example of it being abused, and if it was whether Brad is culpable.

        Greater transparency of the TUE process (and other medical processes and the role of doctors within teams) is a must that should be pushed for in all sports. However, even then, there will be margins where advantages can be gained.

        • PaulG

          Interesting stuff alright. I’m not as surprised when I hear about riders using tramadol and other legal substances (morally and ethically dubious but legally okay). This latest info from Sky strikes me as playing with fire, given their squeaky clean image :-( Hopefully the outcome of this is the removal of the TUE process – unless there is a valid reason for it beyond allowing an unwell athlete to top themselves up to compete at their normal level.

          • jdv

            There will always be a TUE process. It exists to allow those requiring medication to compete on a level playing field with those that don’t require medication to perform at the full level of their ability.

            The requirement for a TUE process isn’t in question. Without a TUE like process, large swathes of the population would be excluded from sport – that is unacceptable on all levels.

            What can be done, is recognise the TUE process is being abused, target the abuse and methods of abuse and ensure that rigorous independent controls exist to prevent it being a mechanism to enhance riders beyond the full capacity of their natural capability.

            Much like (as is discussed elsewhere on this page) the haematocrit tests of the 1990s. They were an approved process, setup in the face of massive abuse, to do something to combat cheating. Later augmented with a genuine test, which has been relatively effective. People will always cheat and particularly when there is money involved. Pressure and expectation from fans, sponsors and the Governing bodies often forces (albeit sometimes indirectly) this behaviour, then it was to EPO, now its abusing the TUE process, next it’ll be something else.

            The fundamental equation of: “cheating = performance = money/fame” is hard to escape.

            • PaulG

              @jdv ?

            • Dave

              The ‘level playing field’ mantra is meaningless if you don’t define the plane of reference to which it is level. I don’t think an absolutely level playing field could possibly exist in cycling because it’s a sport that actively discriminates between those whose bodies can handle it and those who can’t, and that all attempts to ‘level the playing field’ are therefore actually just tilting it in different directions.

              At some point you need to draw the line and let people with bodies not built for an aerobic endurance sport like cycling drop down to lower grades or switch to other more suitable sports. And I say that as someone who has asthma myself (triggered by cold dry air) and would need a TUE if I was competing in a WADA Code signatory sport at national or higher level and using my current treatment of terbutaline.

              In my opinion, that line should be drawn short of allowing in-competition use of powerful steroids. If you’re so sick that you need such powerful stuff, go home and recover properly before returning to racing. If it’s for management of an ongoing condition, find a non-enhancing treatment.

              But in the absence of such decisive action, I agree that improving the TUE process is at least a better response than doing nothing. In my opinion that comes down to two significant areas:
              1. Transparency and independence. Other riders/teams should have the opportunity to query a TUE or demand a formal review at the time, rather than wondering what could have been a few years later.
              2. The UCI more diligently rejecting applications for in-competition use where there are other non-enhancing options available.

              If the UCI can get its house in order, they can very easily position cycling as the leading sport in this area. But that’s not going to happen so long as the UCI leadership has so many close links with two particular professional teams.

              • jdv

                The term “a level playing field” is I agree senseless. After all, human physiology is anything but. The TUE process should exist to allow athletes to take medication which allows them to compete without discrimination for treatable conditions. What defines a condition (and treatable) probably needs to be explored as does the process for identifying it and the burden of proof and retesting required. Depending on the sport these regulations are unfortunately wide ranging and far beyond professional competition. In the UK, even domestic racing at the lowest level, must conform; and therefore the TUE process must be applicable at all levels. That said you only have to look at the prevalence of heavily medicated riders in the sportive scene to show that people will always cheat – they just find an arena where the can do so with impunity.

                I disagree with 1. A revised TUE process should be sufficient so that riders, teams etc don’t need to query it, because it can be trusted.
                For 2. that’s not the UCIs place and would muddy the water again. The use of medication during competition should be regulated across all sports in a consistent and trusted manner. The UCI should subscribe to that. Likewise, the UCI (and WADA) should be independent and open to independent scrutiny to ensure there is no overriding external influence from riders, teams, sponsors or countries.

  • Mark Wells

    I’d like to hear from the team doctor and the independent panel of doctors who approved this. The question of appropriate treatment for his condition really rests with them – everything else is speculation.

  • Jack R

    The timing of Wiggins’ TUEs is what gets me – particularly with regard to the 2013 Giro. Matt Slater’s review of Wiggins’ press quotes is noteworthy – seems Wiggins is clutching at straws to now claim he was really struggling with health, particularly in 2012. Also interesting that Brailsford has been quiet on the topic to date and hasn’t issued one of his usual aggressive denials (which I would have expected if this was another media beat up). Bravo Dumoulin for calling it as most are seeing it.

    • Simon

      the injection didn’t exactly do a lot to aid his 2013 Giro as he pulled out with a chest infection. I’m not a doctor but that is somewhere in the region of the lungy breathy bits.

    • Bones

      “Drawing at straws?” What else can he say? He can’t say he was fine AND then defend extreme meds for his condition. There was a reason a lot of people referred to SKY as UK Postal :)

  • P. Ledesma

    Sigh. I have a tough time believing all these supposedly asthma sufferers. You never see them, not a single time, gasping for breath the same way, for example, one can see Katie Compton when she gets an attack during a race. Breathing hard when you do an effort is not asthma.

  • P3N54

    No one ever denied that Wiggins might have asthma or allergies (well, apart from the inherent conflict of interest to be truthful about the extent of problem with regards to using potent medication).

    The problem with using this treatment is that it has a certain performance benefit irrespective of asthma/allergies being a problem at the time of the year and the country you compete in (he also wants us to believe that he has the same problems in July in France than he has in May in Italy).

    Also, those allergies didn’t seem to trouble him too much beyond simple inhalers in ’09 when he came 4th in the TdF (not exactly one that will be noted for its “cleanliness”). So either he was using something more powerful that was making up for his “allergies” and “asthma” or the Kenacort makes the difference between 4th and 1st.

    You pick. Either way, it’s not looking like “panyagua” (and please spare me the better training, travelling with pillows and custom mattresses and beet juice).

  • Kenneth Sanders

    Why can’t we all just come to the realization that each and everyone of the professional cyclist dope! Who cares? Let’s let them dope and see who’s heart explodes first. I don’t really care if they are doping or not. Pro Cycling has become so extremely boring, riding conservatively, radios, incremental increases of performance, too many long stages, and the pros crying like little babies because of weather. GET OVER IT! This is what you wanted to do as a PRO and get paid for it. IF the UCI wanted to change cycling they could have already, but they don’t. How about a new rule, NO team doctors, and NO TUE’s.

  • cthenn

    Well written article, good balance. I’m tired of puff pieces, this has the right amount of skepticism. I must say, I’m very impressed with Cyclingtips, articles always seem balanced, even the tech reviews by James, not just a blatant advertisement for the newest tech. Well done all around, chaps!

  • GVA

    I think the facts are really, 1) Brad is not guilty from a legal standpoint, the only way he can be guilty is if he admits he committed fraud by lying about the symptoms, 2) Ethically and morally, he is as guilty as hell and is quite clearly a self righteous hypocrite. I’m sure Bradley would have loved to sum up the interview with “Don’t hate the player, hate the game!”…and as much as I don’t like his arrogance and hypocrisy, he would have a point.
    I along with many others naturally have low haematocrit levels so I can never be an elite grand tour rider…does that mean I should be allowed to take EPO or have blood transfusions to level the playing field?
    The biggest worry I have is whether this is it or is this the smoking gun? Lance singlehandely built and then tore down grassroot cycling in the UK…Bradley has had a big part in building British cycling (along with Froomey, Chris Hoy and Boardman etc.)…hopefully he doesn’t tear it down!

  • NYCRider

    Would have loved Wiggins/Sky to have been proven squeaky clean in the long run – but something like this was always on the cards. Very unfortunate nonetheless, and both Wiggins’ and Sky’s reputations will be permanently tarnished because of it (deservedly it would seem to this non-doctor).

    TUEs either need to be banned altogether or need to be made public as and when they are applied for (and approved/denied). I’m sold on the arguments for both.


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