Drugs

Wiggins on Marr on TUEs

This morning Sir Bradley Wiggins appeared on The Andrew Marr Show to discuss the leaked TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) documents leaked by the hacking group Fancy Bears.

Wiggins has come under increasing pressure over recent days with cycling fans and the media accusing him of legally doping before 3 Grand Tours and in particular before his 2012 Tour de France victory.

So, what do we actually know?

  • It is common knowledge that Wiggins suffers from asthma and a pollen allergy
  • Wiggins has had 6 TUEs.  3 for Salbutamol, Formoterol and Budesonide administered by inhaler from and 3 for Triamcinolone Acetonide administered by intramuscular injection
  • Salbutamol, Formoterol and Budesonide are asthma inhaler drugs
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide is a strong treatment for asthma and allergies
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide has performance enhancing qualities, hence the need for a TUE
  • The TUEs were not specifically requested by Wiggins, or did he ask for those specific drugs.  A specialist saw him, diagnosed him and then applied for the TUE.
  • The TUEs were approved by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency)
  • Wiggins never mentioned the injections in his autobiography
  • No rules have been broken by Wiggins or Team Sky

What we don’t know and will probably ever know is:

  • Did the Triamcinolone Acetonide give Wiggins an unfair advantage over his rivals or did it just get him back to the level he would be at without his asthma and pollen allergy?
  • Do Team Sky request TUEs for other riders before Grand Tours to give them an advantage?
  • Did the UCI turn down other riders requests for similar drugs but let Wiggins have a TUE because of who he is?

The main point of discussion is Wiggins won the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2012 then had an injection of Triamcinolone Acetonide prior to winning the 2012 Tour de France 3 weeks later.  On Marr Wiggins stated that despite winning the  Dauphiné he was still struggling with his breathing so saw a specialist who then prescribed the injection.

In an effort to understand if this was standard practice at Team Sky did they do this for Chris Froome prior to his Tour de France wins?  The answer is no.  His TUE’s were also leaked by Fancy Bears and he took nothing prior to any of his 3 TdF victories.

As medical records are confidential we will never know if the UCI jut let Wiggins off because of who he was but looking back at the time he wasn’t the massive star that he is now.  Of course he had won gold medals and races but it was the 2012 Tour de France win and subsequent Olympic time trial win in London that catapulted him to his current status.

 

Cycling has a dark, drug addled past and those who follow the sport are fully aware of this. Cycling’s past is the main reason why people are accusing Wiggins and Sky of un-ethical practices with regards to TUEs.

I’ve seen a lot of tweets and articles and they all are black and white.  A lot of the tweeters minds were made up before the TUEs were leaked as they were anti-Sky.  There are many neutrals who are unhappy with all of this, me being one of them, but I place the blame not with Brad, but with the UCI and WADA.

I have been told that if you need the injections that Wiggins took you wouldn’t be able to race.  If this is the case then the application of the TUE should have alerted the UCI and WADA that something dodgy was going on and rejected the application.  This didn’t happen.

I agree that the TUE process and guidance needs to change but that isn’t the fault of any rider.  It is for the governing body, the UCI, to identify problems associated with drugs in cycling and put in place sufficient rules and governance to prevent abuse.

 

If you browse through my blog you will see I’m certainly not a doping apologist, and have been angered by British riders in the past.  I just think that where a guy has followed the rules he doesn’t deserve the treatment that Lance Armstrong got.

Then there is the whole ethics debate but it’s Sunday, I’m going to go for a ride, after all we enjoy cycling don’t we?

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Tom Maynard – Another Victim Of Inadequate Drug Testing In Sport

Today saw the outcome of the inquest into the tragic death of Surrey cricketer Tom Maynard. Tom, after a a defeat with Surrey went out drinking, took cocaine and ecstasy. He then drove to his girlfriend’s house but en route was noticed by police driving erratically. He left his car and tried to escape on foot, ultimately onto a live tube line where he died either from an electric shock or the following collision with a tube train.

This story is sad on so many levels. Tom’s parents say this behaviour was not typical of their son, his friends knew nothing of his drug taking and Tom’s career was going from strength to strength. The inquest identified through hair samples that Tom had been taking cocaine regularly, even daily, for three and a half months. Tom was the leading batsman in the Surrey averages and would have certainly appeared for England in the future.

Tom has been badly let down by his sport. He was playing cricket at a high level, during the playing season whilst being able to take cocaine on a near daily basis without suspicion. It transpires that during this three and a half month period Tom was not tested for any drugs. How on earth does that manage to happen?

What sort of sport does not test the leading batsman of a county for three and a half months in season?

Angus Porter, Professional Cricketers Association Chief Executive, confirmed the above today in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live. He said that if Tom had been tested at any time throughout the three and a half months period the cocaine abuse would have been flagged up. If just goes to show that a proper doping policy could have saved Tom’s life.

It’s about time professional sport started to dope test properly. If you are exceeding at sport you should expect to be tested more frequently, but also all players should be randomly tested as a team after games. Never should the leading batsman or a county not be tested for over half a season.

Does it also not seem weird that Novak Djokovic, the number one tennis player in the world, was not blood tested for performance enhancing drugs for over six months? He should be tested at every tournament! It just makes you wonder how often footballers get tested? Once or twice a season? Surely it should be the whole squad, at least after every 3-4 games?

I really think that sports need to get serious with doping, and test properly and regularly, not be frightened of what they might find if they did.

My thoughts and condolences are with Tom Maynard’s family.

Lance Armstrong – After Some Research

Yesterday I felt that Lance Armstrong was the victim of a witch hunt caused mainly by his success – after all, when a cyclist does good they seem to always be suspected of doping.

I looked through a variety of sources on the internet but this one stood out the most – an interview with Michael Ashenden, an expert on blood doping. (Read the interview here)

For more reading on Lance Armstrong there are also a couple more interesting articles here and here.

To me, the evidence would suggest that Lance has doped but has never been caught. Also in Lance’s press statement he says

“I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours. We all raced together. For three weeks over the same roads, the same mountains, and against all the weather and elements that we had to confront. There were no shortcuts, there was no special treatment. The same courses, the same rules. The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that”

which to me isn’t saying that he definitively did not dope.

All in all it is such a shame that this has come to light with all the good work the Livestrong Foundation does but yesterday donations were up, so if anything this doping story won’t effect the charity which is a good thing. The foundation’s website is below if you want to see some of the excellent work being done fighting cancer.

www.livestrong.org

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong, seven times Tour De France winner, cancer survivor and campaigner.

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I’m only a newcomer to the world of cycling having got hooked watching the 2012 Tour De France, but prior to this time I certainly knew who Lance Armstrong was. He was the man who won Le Tour despite having gone through treatment for testicular cancer – he was an inspiration.

If you or your family have been affected by cancer you will appreciate what sort of impact hope can have in a persons recovery, and Lance gave hope. He was a formidable athlete but overcame the odds beat the big C. We all need stories like that to give us hope, and he certainly gave all cancer patients one. He also has raised millions of dollars through his Livestrong foundation, and single handily made those plastic bracelets cool.

Now to my limited knowledge of cycling and doping I look at the allegations made against him in this way:

Lance Armstrong would have been tested through any professional race, more so in Le Tour, and more so later in his career. Why were they no positive tests?

Doping charges should be brought when actual samples or either blood or urine have failed tests, not due to testimony from former team mates etc.

Is it really in the interests of the sport to even bring these charges against Armstrong?

Despite what’s happened and been accused Lance Armstrong is an amazing athlete, survivor and cancer campaigner. This witch hunt only serves to damage cycling, which is surely not what the anti-doping authorities should be doing to a sport which is constantly being dragged down by doping offences.

Lance Armstrong cycled within the rules during his seven Tour De France wins and submitted numerous samples that were all clean. To me that says it all. How can you play a game within the rules then be subsequently disqualified? It’s a joke.

Whitney Houston, Evra and Suarez – So What?

It’s tragic when anyone dies, and it does capture the mourning nature of the public when it’s someone who previously has been a worldwide singing and film megastar, but really what is tragic is the celebrity obsessed nature of the public today.

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Looking through Twitter people are absolutely gutted abut the recent death of Whitney Houston. A quick search and there are masses of people who never knew her actually crying about it:

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Are these people or their emotions for real? Do a search for ‘Syria’ on twitter and there are no such tweets, despite thousands of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children dying by the hand of their own people. It’s actually quite sickening that people aren’t bothered about war crimes but they are about a singer passing away.

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I suppose that it’s not just Whitney Houston that has the nation and media obsessed this weekend. The whole Suarez Evra handshake malarkey that occurred yesterday was just farcical and that was all over twitter and the internet in seconds. Honestly, are our lives that sad that all we have to think about is such rubbish like this?

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Football needs to properly have a look at itself in the light of the recent racism issues and this childish handshaking ritual before the games. Also the public needs to have a look at themselves as people like Whitney Houston as if they weren’t famous would be on shows like Jeremy Kyle “I’m in my late 40’s and can’t kick drugs”. Evra and Suarez would quite probably be doing low paid jobs if it wasn’t for their considerable talent. These people are just humans not gods or people to be looked up to. If you want a role model why not try someone who actually contributes something meaningful to society?

Fame and money very rarely go to the worthy, by the way – hence we shouldn’t ever be too impressed by either of those impostors. Value folk for who they are, how they live, and what they give – that’s a much better benchmark.” – Bear Grylls