Froome claims TUE system open to abuse

Double Tour de France winner wants action on TUE use as Team Sky boss backs Wiggins

LONDON • Chris Froome has called for the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and cycling's governing body, the UCI, to urgently address the controversial use of medical exemptions in the sport following the criticism that has been directed at Team Sky and his former team-mate Bradley Wiggins over the issue.

He added that the system was "open to abuse". The two-time Tour de France champion had his own therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for prednisolone revealed by the Fancy Bears hacking team at the same time that Wiggins' exemptions were leaked .

Froome's two were for five days in May 2013 at the Criterium du Dauphine and seven days in April 2014 during the Tour of Romandie to treat a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

Wiggins' use of TUEs in 2011, 2012 and 2013 before his biggest race of those seasons has come under more scrutiny, particularly the injections of the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone before his 2012 Tour de France win.

Froome made it clear that he had not cheated but that the rules needed closer examination.

The Team Sky rider said in a post on Twitter: "It is clear that the TUE system is open to abuse and I believe that this is something that the UCI and Wada needs to urgently address.

"At the same time there are athletes who not only abide by the rules, but also those of fair play.

"I have never had a 'win at all costs' approach in this regard. I am not looking to push the boundaries of the rules. I believe that this is something that athletes need to take responsibilty for themselves, until more stringent protocols can be put in place."

FOLLOWING A RECOMMENDATION

You don't wait until you have an asthma attack to take a puffer. The principle is the same. He has been recommended this. For me personally, at the time, did it ring any alarm bells? No.

DAVE BRAILSFORD, Team Sky principal, on Bradley Wiggins' TUE use.

On Monday, Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford broke his silence on Wiggins' TUEs and defended the cycling outfit's conduct.

"With hindsight we've looked at the recommendations, worked within the rules and applied the rules. And we wouldn't have done that if we didn't think it was what was appropriate," he told the Guardian.

But he accepted there was a need for more transparency in how the TUE system worked.

"Our intention is to change our policy and, with rider consent, to be public about TUEs. If someone did race with a TUE everybody would know beforehand," he said.

He was insistent that the team did the right thing in applying for TUEs for Wiggins and that he had full trust in the process put in place by the UCI.

Asked whether it was right that Wiggins appeared to receive the TUE as a preventative measure, Brailsford said: "You don't wait until you have an asthma attack to take a puffer. The principle is the same. He has been recommended this. For me personally, at the time, did it ring any alarm bells? No."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'Froome claims TUE system open to abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe