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26 Sep, 2016 14:29

Controversy over British cyclist Wiggins' drug use rumbles on

Controversy over British cyclist Wiggins' drug use rumbles on

The controversy over Sir Bradley Wiggins' use of a banned steroid before major races has continued after the British rider was interviewed by the BBC.

Wiggins told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show he was not trying to gain an "unfair advantage" by using the powerful anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone, insisting it was simply to treat respiratory problems and allergies.

"This was to cure a medical condition. 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,” the five-time Olympic champion told Marr.

"I'd done all the work, I was fine-tuned. I was ready to go. My body was in good shape. I'm in the form of my life. I was only ill once or twice with minor colds, and I barely lost a day's training from it."

He said he had "really struggled" with respiratory problems in the run-up to the 2012 Tour de France, but failed to explain why this wasn't mentioned in his autobiography published the same year.

Marr's approach to the interview was widely criticized as being lightweight, with experts claiming the journalist had failed to address the issues properly.

Therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) allow athletes to use banned substances if they have a genuine medical need.

British authorities and cycling's world governing body, the UCI, approved Wiggins' TUEs and there is no suggestion that either he or Team Sky, his former team, have broken any rules.

Wiggins’ use of triamcinolone was revealed after hacker group the Fancy Bears released medical data of some of the world's leading athletes from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

He took the drug in the run-up to the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Tour de France and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.

A former team doctor of Wiggins told BBC Newsnight on Friday he was "surprised" he had been prescribed the drug and claimed it "doesn't look right."

Prentice Steffen said the sport's governing body should not have allowed the cyclist to use the drug before major races.

Convicted doper Michael Rasmussen also waded into the row, saying he believed corticosteroids definitely improved athletes' performance.

Team Sky has previously defended its use of TUEs, saying: "TUEs for Team Sky riders have been granted by the appropriate authorities and in complete accordance with the rules.

"This is a complex area given the obvious issues around medical confidentiality. There is a legitimate debate across sport on where best to draw the line on transparency.

"It is very rare that a rider needs a TUE and we have robust internal processes in place that we are confident in and which we constantly review.

"Team Sky's approach to anti-doping and our commitment to clean competition are well known."

Now Wiggins has had his say, Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford is expected to clarify in the next few days who knew about the TUEs and why the team chose to apply for such a powerful drug when other teams would have stopped their riders from racing.

Olympic time trial silver medalist Tom Dumoulin was brutal in his assessment of Wiggins' and Team Sky's actions.

"This is not something they do with normal asthmatics, let alone athletes who only have exercise-induced asthma," he said.

"Apparently Wiggins's injection also worked for weeks – then in my opinion you should be out of competition for weeks. That thing stinks."