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A report from a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee has deemed that Team Sky “crossed an ethical line” in their use of legal performance-enhancing drugs in the buildup to Sir Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France win in 2012.
As noted Jack Skelton of BBC Sport, the investigation carried out by a select group of MPs said it was “not in a position” to determine what was delivered to Wiggins in a “jiffy bag” in 2011 at the Criterium du Dauphine but concluded he used triamcinolone to improve performance.
It’s added that Team Sky’s claims the bag contained a decongestant are backed up by no “reliable evidence.”
Wiggins used triamcinolone, an anti-inflammatory substance, prior to the cyclist’s iconic Tour de France win in 2012.
The report said “the purpose of this was not to treat medical need but to improve his power-to-weight ratio ahead of the race.” It’s added that other supporting riders may have also used the substance in preparation for the Tour.
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Skelton wrote, “if Wiggins was injected with triamcinolone on the final day of the 2011 Dauphine it would be an anti-doping violation, with the maximum sanction a two-year ban and the loss of results.”
Following the release of the report, the five-time Olympic champion took to social media to deny the allegations made against him:
Brad Wiggins @SirWiggo
I find it so sad that accusations can be made, where people can be accused of things they have never done which are then regarded as facts. I strongly refute the claim that any drug was used without medical need. I hope to have my say in the next few days & put my side across.
In a statement on their official website, Team Sky “strongly refutes” any allegations of wrongdoing.
As noted by Skelton, triamcinolone is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency unless the athlete in question is granted a therapeutic use exemption. Wiggins was issued with said exemption prior to the 2011 and 2012 Tours as well as the 2013 Giro d’Italia.
Former Team Sky and British Cycling coach Shane Sutton said in the report the use of the substance by Wiggins was “unethical but not against the rules,” per the same source.
Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail believes the testimony of Sutton represents one of the most damning parts of the report, as he was the “right-hand man” to team principal Sir Dave Brailsford:
Matt Lawton @Matt_Lawton_DM
Biggest issue for Brailsford and Wiggins, beyond DCMS conclusions, is statement by Shane Sutton as coach, mentor and right-hand man. Admits triamcinolone use was ‘unethical’.
Per Lawton, it has previously been alleged that a medical package ordered by Team Sky in the “jiffy bag” in question contained triamcinolone.
Matt Dickinson of The Times believes Brailsford should leave his post in light of the recent report:
Matt Dickinson @DickinsonTimes
Why Brailsford must resign: you can’t preach ethics, transparency, good practice then fail all those tests and expect to survive https://t.co/XqXa2EkdUz
Wiggins made history in 2012 when he became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. Since that victory, his former Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome has won cycling’s most illustrious race on four occasions. However, Froome himself tested positive for a banned substance during his win at the Vuelta a Espana last year.
Wiggins is also his country’s most decorated Olympian, as he’s won five gold medals, a silver and two bronzes on the track and road, including a victory in the individual time trial at London 2012 that came just 10 days after his Tour de France success.