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Bradley Wiggins’s alleged abuse of TUE protocols would have been impossible had Team Sky been members of the Movement For Credible Cycling (MPCC), said Jonathan Vaughters on Tuesday. Vaughters was Wiggins’s boss in 2009, the year before the Brit joined Team Sky, with whom he won the 2012 Tour de France.
Wiggins and Team Sky were accused of a tactical use of corticosteroid triamcinolone to improve performance during the 2012 season by the British parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee report, which was published on Monday. The British team has long resisted pressure to join the MPCC, which follows agreed anti-doping protocols.
The DCMS report stated that “the TUE for the triamcinolone for Bradley Wiggins, ahead of the 2012 Tour de France, meant that he benefited from the performance-enhancing properties of this drug during the race.”
Wiggins has denied any wrongdoing and yesterday told the BBC: “Not at any time in my career did we cross the ethical line.”
Vaughters, whose Slipstream Sports squad now rides as EF Education First-Drapac, acknowledged that Wiggins had used TUEs for salbutamol and an inhaled corticosteroid in 2009, but he insisted that they did not compare with the allegations of TUE abuse in 2012.
“Those were very different to the TUEs that were cited in the DCMS report,” Vaughters said. “Ours were like saying, ‘you’ve got permission to run around the block,’ but the ones in the report were permission to fly around the world.
“Brad does have allergy issues and the use of salbutamol and inhaled corticosteroids in 2009 was justified. They were completely legitimate, so I don’t have any concerns about either of them.”
Vaughters also denied the suggestion that TUE abuse was commonplace among Europe’s most prominent teams.
“I don’t think that ‘gaming the system’ is commonplace among MPCC teams. It would be impossible because of the MPCC rules on cortisone, which you can’t inject. The way that’s enforced is with a pre-Grand Tour cortisol blood test that identifies any exogenous source of cortisone.”
“If any MPCC rider used a corticosteroid like Kenacort three days before the Tour and went through this blood test, he would not be able to start the race,” Vaughters said. “Injectable triamcinolone would be seen in this test. It’s unfortunate that more teams, including Sky, aren’t members of the MPCC.”
The MPCC was founded during the 2007 Tour de France as a way to raise the ethical bar for riders and teams at the pinnacle of the sport. Teams that joined agreed to adhere to voluntary rules around the use of corticosteroids, among other substances. Team Sky never joined the group.
Cedric Vasseur, the manager of fellow MPCC team Cofidis, did not hold back when asked about the report’s findings on Team Sky. “The noose is tightening around Team Sky,” Vasseur said. “They will have to pay the bill or they’ll have to demonstrate that they are innocent. The problem also comes from Brailsford. There is a big gap between what he said in the beginning and what we have learned, step by step.”
Pat McQuaid, UCI President at the time of Wiggins’s Tour win, has also described Team Sky’s conduct as “misleading.”
“Team Sky’s success came after many doping scandals, including Lance Armstrong,” McQuaid said. “Sky always said that they were whiter than white, that it was all within the rules and down to marginal gains, to diet, pillows and mattresses. Now we know that wasn’t the whole story.”