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SAITAMA, Japan (AFP) — Three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has called for tighter rules on medical exemptions in cycling after British anti-doping officials launched an investigation into his former Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins.
Wiggins and Team Sky are the subject of an inquiry into the contents of a medical package delivered to the team doctor before the 2011 Tour de France, prompting Froome to question the system of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs).
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Having previously said the process was “open to abuse,” Froome went further in Japan on Friday, demanding that the World Anti-Doping Agency hire independent doctors to examine cyclists.
“I’d certainly like to see the whole process reviewed,” the Briton told AFP on the eve of the Tour de France’s Saitama Criterium race, where he faces a strong field that includes two-time defending world champion Peter Sagan.
“I think now is certainly a good time. A suggestion I’ve made is to make it a more independent process,” Froome said.
“It would be good to see some experts employed by WADA to evaluate riders for themselves — and maybe even have a list of medications for certain conditions which would be allowed under the TUE system that would be more regulated.”
Wiggins has denied there was anything nefarious about three injections of the drug triamcinolone to treat pollen allergies before the 2011 and 2012 Tours and the 2013 Giro d’Italia, saying it “leveled the playing field.”
Likewise, Sky insisted its conscience was clear, pointing out that the TUEs were cleared by WADA and the UCI.
Sky boss Dave Brailsford has since offered to ask his riders if they would be willing to let their medical information be made public, but WADA rejected the idea of making TUEs transparent.
“Of course I understand that,” said Froome, who with Wiggins was a member of the British cycling squad at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
“It’s medical confidentiality that they want to protect and obviously that’s their call on it.”
Froome himself was revealed by the Fancy Bears hackers to have been issued two TUE certificates for prednisolone, which is used to treat a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.
Froome and Wiggins have clashed in the past, including famously during the 2012 Tour de France that Wiggins won.
After Froome defied team orders and attacked his teammate on a mountain stage during that race, Wiggins furiously claimed he had been “stabbed in the back.”
In what was viewed as a thinly veiled swipe at Wiggins, Froome recently tweeted that he was not prepared to “win at all costs” and added: “there are some athletes who not only abide by the rules that are in place, but also those of fair play.”