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Published: 12:31 | 25/9/16

Wiggins defends TUE use

Bradley Wiggins has defended his use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) insisting he only ever took them for genuine medical problems.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, the 2012 Tour de France winner claimed he took the powerful anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone for allergies and respiratory problems.

The former Team Sky cyclist's use of TUEs was revealed to the public on the Fancy Bears website, the information having been stolen from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) by a group of Russian hackers.

The hackers are eager to expose what they see as sanctioned doping for athletes who abuse the TUE system but with Wiggins' use of TUEs approved by British cycling authorities and the sport's world governing body, the UCI, there is no suggestion he or Team Sky broke any rules, unless the reasons given for the need for the TUE were untrue or exaggerated.

"I went to my team doctor at the time and we went, in turn, to a specialist to see if there's anything else we could do to cure these problems," Wiggins said.

"This was to cure a medical condition. This wasn't about trying to find a way to gain an unfair advantage.

"This was about putting myself back on a level playing-field in order to compete at the highest level.

"When you win the race three weeks out from the Tour de France, as I did, you're the favourite for the Tour.

"(And) you have the medical team and coaches checking everything's OK - 'Bradley, you're on track here, you're the favourite to win this race, now we need to make sure the next three weeks... is there anything we can help with at the moment?'

"(I say) 'Well, I'm still struggling with this breathing, I know it didn't look like it but is there anything else you can do just to make sure that I don't, this doesn't become an issue into a three-week race at the height of the season?'

"And, in turn, I took that medical advice (to take triamcinolone)."

Pressure had come on Wiggins to explain why he took these powerful substances so close to the Tour de France in 2011 and 2012 and also before the 2013 Giro d'Italia, all of which saw him produce career-best showings.

The interview was recorded before a former doctor of Wiggins' had expressed surprise at the need for the substances so close to the biggest races of the season so the views were not put to the multiple Olympic gold medallist.

"I was surprised to see there were TUEs documented for intramuscular triamcinolone just before three major events - two Tours de France and one Tour d'Italia," Prentice Steffen told BBC's Newsnight.

"You do have to think it is kind of coincidental that a big dose of intramuscular long-acting corticosteroids would be needed at that… exact time before the most important race of the season.

"I would say certainly now in retrospect it doesn't look good, it doesn't look right from a health or sporting perspective."

Team Sky's position on the use of TUEs has appeared to change since they first entered the sport on an anti-doping platform but they insist they have done nothing wrong or against the rules.

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