Olympic champion cyclist denies doping allegations
SIR Bradley Wiggins has insisted he was not seeking an "unfair advantage" from being allowed to use a banned steroid before some of the biggest races in his career.
The Olympic champion was one of dozens of athletes to have their anti-doping records leaked by the computer hackings Fancy Bears.
Speaking about the matter for the first time on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, the Olympic cyclist, who won gold in Rio, said he took the powerful anti-inflammatory drug, corticosteroid triamcinolone, for allergies and breathing problems.
Sir Bradley said he applied for therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) to "put himself back on a level playing field". TUEs allow the use of banned substances if sportspersons have genuine medical requirements.
The five-time Olympic champion and 2012 Tour de France winner's TUEs were permitted by the British authorities and the UCI, the cycling's world governing body. There is no suggestion either Sir Bradley or Team Sky, his former team, have broken any rules.
Sir Bradley told Marr that he struggled with breathing problems in the build up to the 2012 Tour De France and he sought out the prescription in order to relieve the symptoms.
"It was prescribed for allergies and respiratory problems," the 36-year-old who will retire at the end of the season said. "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".
"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].'"
He explained he required evidence from a specialist which was closely scrutinised by three independent doctors as part of the stringent process. "This was to cure a medical condition," he said. "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".
After the leak, an initial statement released on behalf of Sir Bradley said: "There's nothing new here. Everyone knows Brad suffers from asthma, his medical treatment is British Cycling and International Cycling Union approved and like all Team GB athletes he follows Wada regulations to the letter. The leak of these records is an attempt to undermine the credibility of Wada and that's something for them to deal with."
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," they continued. "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."