Bradley Wiggins: corticosteroid use ‘wasn’t about trying to gain an unfair advantage’
Sir Bradley Wiggins asserts that his approved use of triamcinolone injections was not for performance-enhancing reasons, but to treat a long-term asthma problem
Russian hacker group Fancy Bears started leaking athletes’ therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) on its website two weeks ago. Wiggins and Sky’s Chris Froome were part of a second data dump on the website. Wiggins’s UCI-approved TUE showed he had permission to inject triamcinolone, a corticosteroid, prior to the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Tour, and the 2013 Giro d’Italia – his season’s goals for those years.
“This was to cure a medical condition,” Wiggins told the BBC One in a pre-recorded interview that aired on Sunday. “This wasn’t about trying to find a way to gain an unfair advantage, this was about putting myself back on a level playing field in order to compete at the highest level.”
In the six leaked certificates it was noted that Wiggins had a “life long allergy to pollen.”
“It was prescribed for allergies and respiratory problems,” the 36-year-old added. “I’ve been a lifelong sufferer of asthma and I went to my team doctor at the time and we went in turn to a specialist to see if there’s anything else we could do to cure these problems,” said Wiggins. “And he in turn said: ‘Yeah, there’s something you can do but you’re going to need authorisation from cycling’s governing body [the UCI].'”
Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, signed off Wiggins’s certificate each time. It did so for salbutamol inhalation three times in 2008 and for triamcinolone in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
David Millar, who confessed to doping and returned to cycling and is now a commentator, said that he could not fathom how a doctor could prescribe triamcinolone before a race.
“As I said in my book [Racing Through The Dark], I took EPO and testosterone patches, and they obviously produce huge differences in your blood and you felt at your top level … Kenacort [triamcinolone], though, was the only one you took and three days later you looked different,” Millar told The Telegraph.
“You would do all the training but my weight would stick. But if I took Kenacort, 1.5-2kgs would drop off in like a week. And not only would the weight drop off I would feel stronger.”
Sky also came under fire because of its no-needle policy and the grey area it entered with Wiggins and triamcinolone. Wiggins said that in his book My Time, he referred to not using needles to dope.
“Whoever is leading in the sport at that time, and at the moment it’s Team Sky, they’re leading the way, and you know, they’re setting the standard for everybody,” Wiggins told BBC One. “And they’re the best of what they do. Unfortunately when you’re the best of what you do sometimes comes scrutiny. Especially in a sport that has a tainted history.”
The full interview will air on Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show on BBC One.
Fancy Bears also released records for other athletes, including cyclists Chris Froome, Laura Trott, Callum Skinner, Steve Cummings (Dimension Data), Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo), Jack Bobridge (Trek-Segafredo) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana).
Froome applied for two TUEs at the time of the 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné and the 2014 Tour de Romandie. He received approval for an oral dose of corticosteroid prednisolone – 40mg per day for one week. Froome said, “I’ve openly discussed my TUEs with the media and have no issues with the leak. In nine years as a professional, I’ve twice required a TUE.”