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Wiggins defends TUE for corticosteroid prior to Tour win

"This wasn't about trying to find a way to gain an unfair advantage," says Bradley Wiggins of TUEs

MILAN (VN) — Bradley Wiggins says that his therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for corticosteroids prior to his 2012 Tour de France victory, and in 2011 and 2013 as well, were to cure a medical condition and not to cheat.

Wiggins was part of several data dumps by Russian hacker group Fancy Bears over the last two weeks. The group also released data for tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, basketball player Elena Delle Donne, and gymnast Simone Biles. The cyclists targeted included Chris Froome (Sky), Fabian Cancellara (Trek – Segafredo), Jack Bobridge (Trek – Segafredo), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), and Steve Cummings (Dimension Data).

The UCI approved Wiggins to inject triamcinolone, a corticosteroid, prior to the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Tour, and the 2013 Giro d’Italia. Some confessed dopers say that it is a strong drug just like EPO and David Millar added that he “can’t fathom” why a doctor would prescribe it prior to a race.

“It was prescribed for allergies and respiratory problems,” Wiggins told BBC1 in an interview that will be aired Sunday. “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 authorization from cycling’s governing body [the UCI].'”

Wiggins won eight Olympic gold medals in his career, including the team pursuit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August. The 36-year-old, who will retire at the end of this year, explained that he had to be checked by three independent doctors before receiving the TUE.

“This was to cure a medical condition,” he explained. “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.”

British super team Sky began in 2010 and adopted a zero-tolerance rule to doping. It fired coach Bobby Julich and others after it found out that they had doped in their careers. Its no-needles policy came into question when the TUEs were released 10 days ago.

Wiggins had permission to inject 40mg of the corticosteroid each time. In his book My Time he wrote that he had “never” used needles other than for vaccinations or when requiring a drip.

Referring to his book, he added, “I wasn’t writing the book, I was writing it with a cycling journalist who’s very knowledgeable on the sport and had lived through the whole era of the Lance Armstrong era and the doping era.

Wiggins said that he thought needles questions referred to doping. “All the questions at that time were very much loaded towards doping.”

Besides Millar, others have raised concern. “You do have to think it is kind of coincidental that a big dose of intramuscular long-acting corticosteroids would be needed at that exact time before the most important race of the season,” Prentice Steffen, doctor in team Garmin when Wiggins placed fourth in the 2009 Tour, told Newsnight. “I would say certainly now in retrospect it doesn’t look good, it doesn’t look right from a health or sporting perspective.”