Sky broadcasts its support

Team Sky riders racing in the Netherlands during the fifth stage of the Eneco Tour last month. The British cycling team have been subjected to negative headlines recently due to their TUE stance.
Team Sky riders racing in the Netherlands during the fifth stage of the Eneco Tour last month. The British cycling team have been subjected to negative headlines recently due to their TUE stance.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Sponsor of embattled Team Sky backs the cycling outfit to keep winning 'the right way'

LONDON • Team Sky received some welcome news amid the negative headlines regarding their former star Bradley Wiggins, with the unequivocal support from their main sponsor and media heavyweight Sky.

Graham McWilliam, deputy head of Sky News and chairman of the Team Sky board, tweeted he had sent a message of support to the team over the weekend telling them to stay focused on the important things such as winning.

The team has been subjected to negative headlines for obtaining for British cycling great Wiggins a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) from cycling authorities for the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone to combat his asthma.

Wiggins was permitted to take it just days before the 2012 Tour de France, which he won, as well as the 2011 Tour and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.

He and Team Sky are also reportedly at the centre of an inquiry by UK Anti-Doping.

However, McWilliam made no bones in his message that Sky were fully behind the team, which has won four of the past five Tour de France titles.

He said: "With all the noise around Team Sky, I sent a message to the Team over the weekend to assure them of Sky's support.

"Here's what I said, 'Keep your feet firmly on the ground and stay focused on what's important. For Team Sky that's racing and winning, the right way. That's what we've done from the start and that's what we'll continue to do in future.

" 'I can assure you of Sky's full and continued support. We trust you, we believe in you and we remain as excited about this sport as ever'."

However, Team Sky cyclist Nicolas Roche criticised the decision by Team Sky to apply for the TUE and believes stronger rules regarding TUEs need to be put into place.

"Like I said already on my Twitter a few weeks ago, there is a major problem with TUEs," Roche told cyclingnews.com.

"There is a problem with the actual system. Again, you can do whatever you want against Wiggins, but unfortunately, as far as ethically it's wrong, he is within the rules.

"It is wrong that these rules are like that. That's where the main problem is. Once we get those rules right, there won't be any abuse."

Roche also said that the issue spans across all sports, stressing on the ease of getting a TUE.

"It's a problem not just in cycling, but in all sports. There was something like 6,000 TUEs this year. To be honest, this year I was sick three times and I never needed a TUE, so there is a real problem on the easiness of getting TUEs and how athletes can abuse them," the 32-year-old Irish rider, who is joining BMC Racing in 2017, added.

"I think if you work on that then you have a solution. But the problem is much more than Wiggins, it's the whole system that needs to be revised."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'Sky broadcasts its support'. Print Edition | Subscribe