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Hours after the publication of a report which has cast serious doubt over their ethics, both Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky have expressed criticism of the findings.
The report, compiled by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee at the British parliament was released at midnight UK time and said that it believed Wiggins and other Team Sky riders were given the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone with the express aim of enhancing performance.
Wiggins had been granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to use the substance for asthma, but the committee concluded that the aim of using 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.”
It also said 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.”
Responding via Twitter, Wiggins pushed back at the report, claiming the findings were untrue.
“I find 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. I strongly refute the claim that any drug was used without medical need. I hope to have my say in the next few days & put my side across.”
Wiggins was invited to appear before the committee, but declined to do so.
Team Sky was also blasted by the report. It was critical of team principal Dave Brailsford and also of the team’s general behaviour. For example, it said that it spoke to what it termed “a well-placed and respected source” about the medicines policy at Team Sky during the period of time relating to Wiggins’ TUE certificates.
According to the report, it said the information received said that “Bradley Wiggins and a smaller group of riders trained separately from the rest of the team. The source said they were all using corticosteroids out of competition to lean down in preparation for the major races that season. This same source also states that Bradley Wiggins was using these drugs beyond the requirement for any TUE.”
As the person calling the shots at the team, the committee said that the information reflects very badly on Brailsford. It said that “such frequent use of the drug [triamcinolone], given its potential performance enhancing properties, seriously calls into question David Brailsford’s assertion that Team Sky only use medicines to treat medical need.”
Responding to the report, Team Sky admitted blame for the lack of proper medical records. “The report details again areas in the past where we have already acknowledged that the team fell short,” it said in a statement. “We take full responsibility for mistakes that were made. We wrote to the Committee in March 2017 setting out in detail the steps we took in subsequent years to put them right, including, for example, the strengthening of our medical record keeping.”
Its acceptance of blame stops there. “However, the report also makes the serious claim that medication has been used by the Team to enhance performance. We strongly refute this,” it said in the statement.
“The report also includes an allegation of widespread Triamcinolone use by Team Sky riders ahead of the 2012 Tour de France. Again, we strongly refute this allegation. We are surprised and disappointed that the Committee has chosen to present an anonymous and potentially malicious claim in this way, without presenting any evidence or giving us an opportunity to respond. This is unfair both to the team and to the riders in question.
“We take our responsibility to the sport seriously. We are committed to creating an environment at Team Sky where riders can perform to the best of their ability, and do it clean.”
An inquiry is ongoing into the delivery of the banned substance testosterone to the Team Sky and British Cycling headquarters in Manchester. Last week the Daily Mail said that contrary to previous claims, the product may not have been ordered by mistake.
The General Medical Council is looking into the matter.