Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.
Bradley Wiggins has broken his silence over the three TUEs he received and used for the potent corticosteroid triamcinolone, describing Monday’s parliamentary committee report as a ‘witch hunt.’
Speaking to the BBC, Wiggins insisted that he always played by the rules and complained that his life has been made ‘a living hell’ by the saga.
“Not at any time in my career did we cross the ethical line,” he said. “I refute that 100%. This is malicious, this is someone trying to smear me.
“[Cycling] is the most scrutinised sport in the world. I can’t control what people are going to think but for some people, whatever you do it is not going to be enough. I just don’t know any more in this sport – you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
He said that his children were ‘taking a hammering’ in school. “The widespread effect it has had on the family is just horrific. I am having to pick up the pieces with the kids, I would not wish it on anyone.”
On Monday the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee at the British parliament released the findings of its inquiry into Wiggins’ use of a powerful corticosteroid plus the delivery of a mystery package to him in the build-up to the 2011 Tour.
His use of the substance triamcinolone became known when Russian hackers Fancy Bears leaked details in September 2016. That leak revealed that he had received a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to use the otherwise-banned substance prior to the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.
According to this week’s report, which drew on the testimony of Team Sky employees and others plus the submissions of whistleblowers, Wiggins’ use of the corticosteroid prior to the Tour de France “was not to treat medical need, but to improve his power to weight ratio ahead of the race.”
Furthermore, the committee concluded that the 2012 Tour de France winner “may have been treated with triamcinolone on up to nine occasions, in and out of competition, during a four-year period.”
Wiggins first commented on Twitter early on Monday, saying that he found it “so sad that accusations can be made, where people can be accused of things they have never done which are then regarded as facts.”
Elaborating on this with the BBC Sport editor Dan Roan, he said that he “would have had more rights if I had murdered someone than in this process. I don’t know what his [the source’s] motivation is. It was completely under medical need.
“I am having to deal with the fallout; I am left in the middle trying to pick up the pieces. It is a malicious allegation made by an anonymous source.” He said that those sources should identify themselves and go on record about what they are saying.
Asked what was in the mystery package delivered from Britain to France via Switzerland and administered to him by Dr. Richard Freeman on the final day of the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné, he claimed not to know. “God knows. Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t run the team, I was busy doing my job that I was paid to do.” He denied receiving any injections, and said he was given “Fluimucil with a nebuliser” that evening.
Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford said at his select committee hearing that the package contained the legal decongestant Fluimucil. Monday’s report by the committee raised questions about this explanation, not least because of the effort involved.
“To many people, the whole story of the package seems implausible, to say the least,” it states. “If the package was needed urgently, why, according to travel records given to the Committee by British Cycling, did Simon Cope collect it from Manchester on 8th June, but not fly out with it until 12th June? If the package did indeed contain Fluimucil, why was someone asked to bring it out from Manchester, when one of the pharmacies where Team Sky had previously sourced this same drug was just a few hours’ drive away in Switzerland, at the Pharmacie De La Plaine, in Yverdon?”
Wiggins disputed suggestions that he had been given triamcinolone that day. “Had I had the injection, it would have shown up in my urine a week later at the national road race,” he stated.
“Not any time during my career did we cross the ethical line. As I’ve said before, I had a medical condition that I went to a doctor. This has been being treated since back in 2003 when I was diagnosed with it through the doctors at British Cycling at that time.
“This was the treatment that I had been prescribed for that particular occasion, which was seven years ago, under specialist supervision as well. And in place of the rules at that time, which you were allowed to apply for to use this medication.”
Past dopers such as Lance Armstrong, David Millar and Joerg Jaksche all used triamcinolone for a performance boost, with the latter two saying that they deliberately obtained TUEs for it to make it permissible.”
Wiggins showed scant signs of sickness before the 2011 and 2012 Tours, winning the Critérium du Dauphiné in the build-up to the Grand Tour.
He also stated in his autobiography that his build-up to the 2012 Tour had fully gone to plan, and that his health had been good.
In his interview with the BBC, Wiggins played down any suggestions that he got an extra benefit from triamcinolone. “It wasn’t performance enhancing in the sense that for me, it was the case that I had this problem. I’d have asthma attacks, I would have problems with breathing that flared up through pollen season. And this was an anti-inflammatory drug that was taken in order to prevent that happening so that I could compete on the same level as I’d competed all year, and with my rivals.”
He further insisted that the medication wasn’t used in order to gain advantage, something the parliamentary select committee disagreed with on Monday.