Former team doctor questions Wiggins' TUE

Therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) used by Wiggins (above) are now being questioned by Dr Prentice Steffen.
Therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) used by Wiggins (above) are now being questioned by Dr Prentice Steffen.

LONDON • The controversy surrounding Bradley Wiggins' use of a banned corticosteroid before three major stage races deepened on Friday when his former team doctor at the Garmin team, Prentice Steffen, questioned the practice in an interview with the BBC.

Both Wiggins and his team at the time, Team Sky, have stated that he was given injections of triamcinolone acetate to treat a legitimate medical condition and that no anti-doping rules were broken.

Steffen was the team doctor at Garmin in 2009 when Wiggins made his breakthrough performance at the Tour de France, finishing fourth overall and being upgraded to third after Lance Armstrong was found guilty of doping.

At that time Wiggins had therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) permitting the use of an asthma inhaler containing salbutamol, a practice that has since been made legal.

Steffen said: "I was surprised to see that there were TUEs documented for intramuscular triamcinolone just before three major events."

The TUEs, leaked through the hacking website Fancy Bears on Sept 15, were issued shortly before the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France - the latter an event that Wiggins won - and the 2013 Giro d'Italia, where he abandoned the race.

"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," said Steffen.

"It does not look good, it doesn't look right from a health or a sporting perspective.

"I think his doctor and his team, to make the decision to apply for that TUE, is questionable.

"I think for the (world cycling body) UCI or UK cycling or Wada to sign off on that application, all things considered that is the end point where the TUE committee should have looked at that and said, no, this is not acceptable so we are not going to approve it."

Team Sky said at the time of the Fancy Bears leaks that "applications for TUEs have all been managed and recorded in line with the processes put in place by the governing bodies."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 25, 2016, with the headline 'Former team doctor questions Wiggins' TUE'. Print Edition | Subscribe