Wada considers ban on drug used by Wiggins

Wada director-general Olivier Niggli accepted that the system was open to abuse.
Wada director-general Olivier Niggli accepted that the system was open to abuse.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • A blanket ban on corticosteroids, the drug at the heart of controversies involving former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and All Blacks legend Dan Carter, is being considered by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

Such a ban would make it more difficult to receive a therapeutic use exemption (TUE), which Wiggins, 36, successfully utilised on three occasions for the corticosteroid triamcinolone to treat asthma.

One of those TUEs was issued in 2012 when he became the first British winner of cycling's Tour de France.

Carter, 35, is being investigated alongside fellow New Zealand rugby international Joe Rokocoko, 33, and Argentina wing Juan Imhoff, 28, by the French Anti-Doping Agency over the use of corticosteroids in last year's Top 14 rugby final where he appeared for Racing 92.

Wada director-general Olivier Niggli, speaking to the media after appearing on a panel at the Tackling Doping in Sport conference in London on Wednesday, accepted that the system was open to abuse.

"It is an unsatisfactory situation, we all agree on that," he said, when asked whether UK Anti-Doping's (Ukad) calls for a blanket ban found favour with Wada.

OPEN TO ABUSE

The system as it is now is not good - only the people who are being so called 'honest' about what they are doing are getting caught.

OLIVIER NIGGLI, World Anti-Doping Agency director-general, on why tougher rules may now be necessary.

"We have set up a group to try to come up with a better proposal on how we can do that.

"We had hoped for a number of years that research would bring us detection methods that would distinguish the route of administration (rubbing on cream is legal).

"The reality is that it doesn't seem too easy to come up with a method allowing us to do this."

He said the time had come to change tack.

"We are now at a stage we have to have another discussion," Niggli added. "The system as it is now is not good - only the people who are being so called 'honest' about what they are doing are getting caught."

Nicole Sapstead, chief executive of Ukad, welcomed the news.

"If they were to introduce an outright ban then great," she said.

She said Ukad had requested three times for corticosteroids to be put on the prohibited list, chiefly because it did not think that the athlete's medical needs demanded such treatment.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Wada considers ban on drug used by Wiggins'. Print Edition | Subscribe