Wiggins vows to hit back at critics

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Britain’s Bradley Wiggins cycles in Paris during the last stage of the 2012 Tour de France. AFP

LONDON (AFP) – British cycling great Bradley Wiggins said it was “so sad” after he and his former team were accused by MPs of manipulating drug rules before major races, including Wiggins’ 2012 Tour de France victory.

A report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee of the House of Commons published yesterday, accused Wiggins and other Team Sky riders of using the drug triamcinolone not for its recognised purpose as an asthma treatment, but because it helped them lose weight without compromising their power in the saddle.

Russian computer hackers revealed three years ago that Wiggins had applied for therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which allowed riders to have injections of otherwise banned drugs, permitting him to take the powerful corticosteroid.

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United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) launched an inquiry in September 2016 after British newspaper the Daily Mail reported a mystery package meant for the now-retired Wiggins had been delivered to Team Sky during a 2011 race in France.

It was alleged the package in question contained triamcinolone but Wiggins’ then doctor, Richard Freeman, insisted it was the decongestant fluimucil, a legal substance.

Freeman revealed he had lost a lone written record confirming this when his laptop was stolen while he was on holiday and after more than a year UKAD dropped its investigation, saying it had been hampered by a lack of “contemporaneous evidence”.

But the DCMS report, citing new evidence from an unnamed source, as well Freeman and Wiggins’s former coach Shane Sutton, dismissed the legal decongestant defence and said Sky, which had made much of its commitment to be drug free in a sport long tainted by doping scandals, had broken its own in-house rules.

Australian coach Sutton, who quit as the performance director of British Cycling in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics following an unrelated sexism row, told the committee that “what Brad was doing was unethical but not against the rules”.

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And the committee said: “We believe this powerful corticosteroid was being used to prepare Bradley Wiggins, and possibly other riders supporting him, for the Tour de France.

“The purpose of this was not to treat medical need, but to improve his power-to-weight ratio ahead of the race.

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