Wednesday 21 August 2019

Bradley Wiggins to return to competition at indoor rowing event

Bradley Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins

Five-time Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins will return to competition next month after swapping his bike for an indoor rowing machine.

British Rowing announced on Friday that Wiggins would participate in the British Rowing Indoor Championships on December 9 at the Lee Valley VeloPark, formerly known as the Olympic Velodrome.

Wiggins this week broke his silence on UK Anti-Doping's investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in cycling, saying it has provoked a "malicious witch hunt" that has been a "living hell" for his family.

In a statement posted on his social media pages, Wiggins welcomed Wednesday's announcement by UKAD that it was closing a 14-month investigation into a package which was delivered to his team doctor at the end of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine race in France.

As UKAD has been unable to prove what was in that package it said no anti-doping charges would be brought.

While this has "pleased" Wiggins, the 37-year-old has criticised UKAD for not issuing an "unqualified finding of innocence" and said he will consider his legal options.

Wiggins retired from cycling in December 2016.

The 2012 Tour de France champion, who is friends with former Olympic champion rower James Cracknell, has since shared images of his rowing workouts on social media.

The posts have shown Wiggins has physically bulked up since switching athletic pursuits and he has previously floated the idea of going to a sixth Olympics, aged 40, in a different sport.

Although the sport is new, the venue is familiar to Wiggins.

He did not compete at the velodrome at London 2012, when he won the road time-trial at Hampton Court to become the first man to win the Tour and Olympic gold in the same year.

However, he has had successes there, setting the world hour record in June 2015 and winning the Madison world title, with Mark Cavendish, in March 2016.

British Rowing added Wiggins would be competing over 2,000 metres early in the afternoon.

Moe Sbihi, Olympic champion in the men's four at Rio 2016, smashed four-time Olympic champion Sir Matthew Pinsent's 11-year British indoor rowing record in 2015. He clocked five minutes 41.8 seconds.

Matt Rossiter, bronze medallist in the men's four at the 2017 World Rowing Championships, said on British Rowing's official website: "He has to have one of the biggest engines ever in world sport and for him to try and tune it to rowing is awesome."

Competitors in the event are subject to anti-doping procedures and could be tested by UKAD.

UKAD opened its investigation in September 2016 over the delivery of a package to Dr Richard Freeman, Wiggins and Team Sky.

The main allegation was that the package contained a banned corticosteroid, triamcinolone, while Dr Freeman and Wiggins said it was a legal decongestant called Fluimucil.

There is no paperwork to confirm this and Dr Freeman, who has been too unwell to speak to UKAD and has recently resigned from his British Cycling post, lost his records when his laptop was stolen.

The decision to investigate came soon after Russian hackers the Fancy Bears revealed that Wiggins had medical exemptions to use triamcinolone before the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and 2013 Giro d'Italia.

PA Media

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