Cycling: Skies darken for Bradley Wiggins and Sky

Sky Procycling rider and leader's yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins of Britain celebrates on the finish line after the final 20th stage of the 99th Tour de France cycling race between Rambouillet and Paris, France, on July 22, 2012.
Sky Procycling rider and leader's yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins of Britain celebrates on the finish line after the final 20th stage of the 99th Tour de France cycling race between Rambouillet and Paris, France, on July 22, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS

MPs report says rider took drug to enhance performance in 2012, not for medical reasons

LONDON • The dark clouds of "Jiffy-gate" and Chris Froome's abnormal drug test have been hanging over Team Sky for some time.

An explosive British parliamentary committee report published yesterday threatened to tighten the noose after MPs accused the retired Bradley Wiggins and Sky of manipulating the anti-doping system by deliberately using medical exemptions to take banned performance-enhancing drugs before his 2012 Tour de France victory .

The riders made preparations by using the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone to enhance performance rather than for medical needs, the report from the digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) select committee said.

Wiggins tweeted that it was "so sad... where people can be accused of things they have never done which are then regarded as facts".

The 37-year-old's comments were backed by Sky, who said they were "surprised and disappointed" with the report.

This report now casts a shadow over the achievements of Britain's most-decorated Olympian with eight medals. He was knighted in 2012 partly in recognition of his Tour success.

It also poses serious questions about the future of Dave Brailsford, Sky's principal, who was also knighted in 2012.

The 54-page report, titled Combating Doping in Sport, said Wiggins and other Sky riders used triamcinolone not for its recognised purpose as an asthma treatment, but because it helped them lose weight without compromising their power in the saddle.

It also stated that other Sky riders prepared for races by taking the painkiller tramadol.

Russian computer hackers revealed three years ago that Wiggins had applied for therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which allowed riders to have injections of otherwise banned drugs.

United Kingdom Anti-Doping launched an inquiry in September 2016 after the Daily Mail reported a mystery Jiffy bag meant for Wiggins had been delivered to Sky during the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.

It was alleged the package contained triamcinolone but the cyclist's doctor then, Richard Freeman, insisted it was the legal decongestant fluimucil.

The DCMS report, citing new evidence from an unnamed source, dismissed that defence.

The committee concluded: "This does not constitute a violation of the World Anti-Doping Agency code, but it does cross the ethical line that Brailsford says he himself drew for Team Sky."

Sky are also in the midst of another controversy over four-time Tour winner Froome's adverse finding for excess amounts of asthma drug salbutamol in September.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2018, with the headline 'Skies darken for wiggins and sky'. Print Edition | Subscribe