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?