Froome's attack on TUE 'abuse' ups ante on Brailsford
Chris Froome yesterday increased the pressure on beleaguered Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins by saying, in an apparent reference to the furore over Wiggins's three therapeutic use exemptions for powerful allergy jabs prior to key races, that he wanted to see cycling's rulers and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) address the possible "abuse" of TUEs.
Wiggins has denied doing anything wrong in taking three injections for the drug triamcinolone to treat asthma and hay fever prior to the 2011 and 2012 Tours, and the 2013 Giro d'Italia, arguing that it "levelled the playing field".
Froome said in a statement released on his Twitter account that he was not prepared to "win at all costs", adding "there are some athletes who not only abide by the rules that are in place, but also those of fair play". Team Sky, too, insist their conscience is clear, with the TUEs recommended by an independent specialist and signed off by the UCI and Wada. Froome, however, hinted that he was not prepared to compromise his ethics with a "win-at-all-costs approach".
"I take my position in the sport very seriously and I know that I have to not only abide by the rules, but also go above and beyond that to set a good example both morally and ethically," said Froome, speaking for the first time since he and Wiggins had medical data hacked by Fancy Bears.
"It is clear that the TUE system is open to abuse and I believe that this is something that the UCI and Wada needs to urgently address. At the same time, there are athletes who not only abide by the rules that are in place, but also those of fair play."
Froome has had two TUEs himself for prednisolone [another corticosteroid] in his career, both of which were taken orally. The second one was particularly contentious as he went on to win the Tour of Romandie after taking it. Froome was demonstrably ill at the time with a chest infection, but even so, many felt he should have withdrawn from the race after taking the medication. His decision not to apply for a TUE while ill in the final week of the 2015 Tour might suggest that, in hindsight, he felt he did go too far.
"I have never had a 'win-at-all-costs' approach in this regard," he said. "I am not looking to push the boundaries of the rules."
WADA, meanwhile, has poured cold water on proposals from Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford to make TUEs "transparent". Brailsford had said he would ask his riders if they were happy for their medical information to be made public. "It is a fundamental human right that personal medical information be kept confidential," the agency said in a statement. "Nobody would want such information disclosed, let alone for it to be debated publicly." (© Daily Telegraph, London)