Friday 22 February 2019

Wiggins on the defence after report makes shock claims

In happier times – then Team Sky Directeur Sportif Shane Sutton chatting to Bradley Wiggins on the 2010 Tour de France. Photo: Getty Images
In happier times – then Team Sky Directeur Sportif Shane Sutton chatting to Bradley Wiggins on the 2010 Tour de France. Photo: Getty Images

Dick Clerkin

Bradley Wiggins has launched an impassioned defence of his career, saying he "100pc never cheated", nor did he ever cross the "ethical line" to which British MPs referred in their stinging report into doping which was published yesterday. And he added that his life had become a "living hell", with his children getting "a hammering at school" which was "disgusting to witness".

Wiggins was accused in the 52-page document - by his own former coach Shane Sutton, no less - of bending the rules to gain a performance advantage by using a corticosteroid, triamcinolone, when he did not have a genuine medical need for it.

"What Brad was doing was unethical, but not against the rules," Sutton told MPs.

Wiggins said that allegation, from a man who was like a father to him, "hurt". And in an hour-long interview with the BBC, he added that:

  • He had "never crossed the ethical line" in his career.
  • He was diagnosed with pollen allergies in 2003 by the doctors at British Cycling.
  • He had used triamcinolone only once out of competition, on top of the three Therapeutic Use Exemptions.
  • An anonymous whistleblower in the report was trying to "smear" him "maliciously".
  • He had not been able to defend himself and would have had "more rights if he'd murdered someone".
  • He had no idea what was in the Jiffy bag sent to him in the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.
  • The effects on his family had been "horrific".

Wiggins, who made history in 2012 as the first Briton to win the Tour de France, had threatened to have his say following publication of the stinging report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee. And he came out swinging. There will, though, be many left sceptical despite his emotional protestations.

It was not immediately apparent on the basis of the short video shown on the BBC News at 6pm last night whether Wiggins had provided evidence to back his claim that he was diagnosed with pollen allergies in 2003, whether he was aware of the taboo surrounding the drug and, therefore, whether he might have considered an alternative option, or why Sutton might have wanted to mislead MPs.

"Yeah, that hurts me, actually," Wiggins said of Sutton's comment. "Shane knows around that time exactly why I was taking that medication."

As well as the three TUEs which were leaked as part of the World Anti-Doping Agency hack by Russian group Fancy Bears in 2016, Wiggins insisted he only ever took triamcinolone once out of competition, which is legal without a TUE.

The report suggested - on the basis of evidence given by Team Sky, which was that "less than 10 ampoules" of triamcinolone had been given to riders in a four-year period - that Wiggins might have taken the drug up to nine times.

"I have no idea where that's come from," Wiggins said. "I really would like to know. This is an anonymous source."

The committee also heard evidence from "a well-placed and respected source" that, in the build-up to the 2012 season, "Bradley Wiggins and a smaller group of riders trained separately from the rest of the team" and that "they were all using corticosteroids out of competition to lean down in preparation for the major races that season".


Asked directly if it was a lie, Wiggins added: "Absolutely. I refute that 100 per cent. This is malicious this. This is a direct… this is someone trying to smear me."

Wiggins said he had never crossed the "ethical line" to which MPs and Sutton referred. "No we didn't. Not at any time in my career did we cross the ethical line," he said.

"As I've said before, I had a medical condition (since) 2003 when I was diagnosed with it through the doctors at British Cycling at that time. This wasn't medication that was abused in order to get an advantage.

"It's the worst thing to be accused of. I've said that before. But it's also the hardest thing to prove you haven't done. Because we're not dealing with the legal system. I'd have had more rights if I'd murdered someone in this process.

"I've been gagged for the last 18 months because of the legal investigation - so I couldn't say anything. Then we were still waiting on this DCMS report. These allegations have never been put to me before. I've only found out today what I'm actually being accused of."

© Daily Telegraph, London

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