Froome not aware of TUE for Wiggins
Published 26/09/2016 | 02:30
Chris Froome was unaware that Bradley Wiggins had official permission to receive injections of a powerful steroid prior to three of the biggest races of his career, including the 2012 Tour de France where they famously fell out as team-mates en route to Wiggins' win.
It remains unclear, however, how many others at Team Sky had knowledge of Wiggins' therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), with the British team coming under increasing pressure to explain why and how Wiggins was prescribed the drug triamcinolone, particularly after Wiggins appeared to suggest on 'The Andrew Marr Show' yesterday that the team proactively encouraged him to take something prior to the 2012 Tour.
Speaking for the first time since the furore erupted 10 days ago following the hacking of his medical data by Fancy Bears, Wiggins told Marr he was approached by Team Sky staff in the build-up to the race who said, "Bradley you're on track here, you're - you're the favourite to win this race, now we need to make sure the next three weeks is - is there anything we can help with at the moment?"
Wiggins, who suffers from asthma and pollen allergies, replied that he had been "struggling" with his breathing the previous week. He says he told them: "I know it didn't look like it [like he was struggling] but I - I kind of really - is there anything else you can do just to make sure that I don't - I don't - this doesn't become an issue into a three-week race at the height of the season? And - and in turn I take that medical advice. And …"
Wiggins was prescribed triamcinolone, which is on the banned list of the World Anti-Doping Agency but is allowed to be used in competition with a TUE. The application for an intramuscular injection of 40mg was approved by the UCI, cycling's governing body, in accordance with WADA guidelines.
There is no suggestion that Wiggins or Team Sky broke any rules but there are plenty of questions regarding the ethics of such an application, especially from a team who entered the sport with such lofty ideals, and given the history of triamcinolone and alleged abuse of corticosteroids in cycling.
Wiggins' two other TUEs were for the same substance and also came before his major goals for the season in question; the 2011 Tour de France and the 2013 Giro d'Italia, leading some to question whether he and Team Sky applied for the drug for performance-enhancing reasons as well as strictly medical ones. After nine days of silence, Wiggins told Marr he was "glad" to be on the show and to "have my say and clarify a few points".
Many, however, felt the move backfired with Marr, not a noted expert on cycling or doping, failing to ask all the questions he might have done and failing to follow up on the ones he did. Marr ended the interview by talking about Wiggins' fashion sense and political leanings.
One of the questions he did not ask was who on the team knew of his TUEs beyond the medical staff and senior management, and whether they were comfortable with it. It is understood that Froome - who pushed Wiggins very hard in 2012 when they were team-mates, almost riding away from him at one point before being ordered to go back and help his team leader - did not know of the TUEs until the Fancy Bear leak.
Froome's two TUEs for the use of prednisolone, another corticosteroid, in 2013 and 2014, were of course leaked at the same time. The second of those was contentious as Froome went on to win the Tour of Romandie in 2014 having taken the drug. He was demonstrably ill before that race, with a chest infection.
Wiggins told Marr that he "really struggled" with asthma and pollen in the early summer months of 2012 and that he was "having problems". Some doctors who have opined on this matter in recent days have said it would have been a totally inappropriate drug to use, a point Marr failed to make to Wiggins yesterday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)