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Following media reports that Bradley Wiggins will now not ride next week’s Abu Dhabi Tour, the event that was scheduled to be his final ever road race, the organisers have issued a press release to clarify their position.
The statement, which hints at frustration on their part, comes after several British media publications said that Wiggins will miss the event.
The organisers are not impressed by suggestions that he was never committed to take part, making clear that this is not the case.
“The Abu Dhabi Tour, organised by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council with the collaboration of RCS Sport, wish to share this clarification of the issues surrounding Sir Bradley Wiggins’ contracted appearance at the 2nd edition of the four-stage road race, 20-23 October,” reads a statement released on Thursday afternoon.
“Before the first announcement (20 September) we received the approval from Team Wiggins to communicate the presence of Bradley Wiggins at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Tour.
“Last week the Official Enrolment Form was submitted by a Team Wiggins official to RCS Sport with the name of the rider Bradley Wiggins included in the provisional entry list.
“In addition, as is usual practise for a major race, flights and accommodation have been booked in the name of Bradley Wiggins and those accompanying him.
“The race organisers are surprised and disappointed to see different stories in the media regarding Bradley Wiggins and the Abu Dhabi Tour.
“It is important to clarify that the long-standing expectation has been that Sir Bradley will be riding the 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour, and that all operations by the race owner, race organiser and its representatives and agents have been based on that expectation in good faith.”
Wiggins has been involved in controversy since the release of confidential data last month by Russian hackers Fancy Bears. The leak was from his Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) file on the WADA system, and showed that he received injections of the potent corticosteroid Triamcinolone acetonide prior to the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France [he won in 2012] plus the 2013 Giro d’Italia.
Wiggins has said that these injections were to treat asthma and that he did nothing wrong. However the injections clash with a statement made in his 2012 autobiography My Time that he had never received injections other than vaccinations or drips.
Questions have also been raised by the conflict between suggestions that he was ill at the time he received injections and his winning of the 2011 and 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné events.
Since then further headlines about Wiggins and the team have arisen after it emerged that a medical package was brought by British Cycling coach Simon Cope to the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné. Team Sky’s Principal Dave Brailsford erroneously claimed that Cope was travelling to meet British rider Emma Pooley rather than transporting the as-yet unknown product; Pooley subsequently pointed out that she was hundreds of kilometres away racing in Spain on the day in question.
Brailsford also said that it was impossible that Wiggins and team doctor Richard Freeman had a private meeting aboard the Team Sky bus after the package was received, as per the Daily Mail’s original article breaking the story.
He said that the bus had already left by the time Wiggins returned from podium duties, but videos from the day in question show this to also be inaccurate.
UK Anti-Doping is investigating what it termed ‘allegations of wrongdoing’ within the sport. These are thought to include the transportation of the package by Cope. He has claimed not to know what was in the package, which in itself may break customs laws relating to the transportation of medical goods across borders.
Wiggins’ withdrawal from Abu Dhabi and the organisers’ insistence that he was indeed scheduled to ride suggest that his non-appearance may be linked to the current controversies.
Neither he nor Brailsford have given any explanation since the story about the package emerged.