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Wiggins stands by needles comments after leak

LONDON (AFP) – Bradley Wiggins defended himself on Saturday after medical data leaks revealed he had received therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for injections of triamcinolone before three major races.

Wiggins, now winding down his career with the eponymous Team Wiggins after several years on Team Sky, received the triamcinolone injections to treat allergies before the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and 2013 Giro d’Italia. He is one of several athletes targeted by those responsible for the leak, a cyber espionage group called ‘Fancy Bears,’ which is believed to be Russian. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by any of the athletes, with most of the leaked information relating to TUEs, which allow the use of substances that would usually contravene anti-doping rules in order to treat an illness or condition.

In his 2012 autobiography “My Time,” Wiggins said he strictly observed the UCI’s “no needles” policy. The policy itself stipulates a specific time window leading up to and during competition in which needles are banned, and exceptions for therapeutic use. Wiggins’ autobiography includes the more direct line, “I’ve never had an injection, apart from I’ve had my vaccinations, and on occasion I’ve been put on a drip, when I’ve come down with diarrhoea or something or have been severely dehydrated.”

In and in a statement released by his spokesman, the five-time Olympic champion stood by his no-needle commitment.

“Brad’s passing comment regarding needles … referred to the historic and illegal practice of intravenous injections of performance-enhancing substances, which was the subject of a law change by the UCI in 2011,” said the statement, which was sent to British media outlets.

“The triamcinolone injection that is referred to in the WADA leaks is an intramuscular treatment for asthma and is fully approved by the sport’s governing bodies.

“Brad stands by his comment concerning the use of illegal intravenous needle injections.”

In the statement, Wiggins also distanced himself from Belgian doctor Geert Leinders, who worked part-time with Sky in 2011 and 2012.

Leinders was sacked by Sky in October 2012 and banned for life by anti-doping authorities last year over doping offenses relating to a period before he joined the British team.

“Brad has no direct link to Geert Leinders,” the statement read.

“Leinders was ‘on race’ doctor for Team Sky for [a] short period and so was occasionally present at races dealing with injuries sustained whilst racing such as colds, bruises etc.

“Leinders had no part in Brad’s TUE application; Brad’s medical assessments from 2011-2015 were processed by the official Team Sky doctor, and were verified by independent specialists to follow WADA, UCI and BC [British Cycling] guidelines.”