David Walsh now critical of Team Sky over TUEs before key races

Posted on: September 18th, 2016

Having defended Team Sky against charges of unexplained performances, David Walsh takes a different line in The Sunday Times today, above.

 

Having been accused of being too close to Team Sky in recent years and voiced his strong belief the British outfit was clean, journalist David Walsh has now qualified that support.

His criticism in The Sunday Times today is not exactly a crisis for the team.

But it is an indication that those commentators the squad received strong support from in the past have been negatively influenced by the leaking of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) used by Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

And as the analysis has flowed from the leak of their records online in recent days, it is definitely Wiggins’ reputation that is taking the biggest hammering, with Froome’s TUEs having been public knowledge before now.

The fact Wiggins availed of TUEs in injection form appears to contradict details in his book ‘My Time’ which focussed on his victory at the 2012 Tour de France.

Wiggins said in the book that needles were anathema to the cycling culture he existed in.

“British Cycling have always had a no-needle policy, it’s been a mainstay of theirs; so it was something I grew up with as a bike rider,” he wrote.

“In British cycling culture, at the word ‘needle’ or the sight of one, you go, ‘Oh shit’, it’s a complete taboo…

“I’ve never had an injection, apart from I’ve had my vaccinations, and on occasion I’ve been put on a drip, when I’ve come down with diarrhoea or something or have been severely dehydrated.”

 

Detail in Wiggins’ book ‘My Time’ and detail not in it have come back to haunt him and Team Sky.

 

However, his TUE details reveal that three days before the 2011 Tour de France – which he was one of the favourites for but crashed out of – he was given a TUE for a 40mg injection of corticosteroid triamcinolone acetonide.

And just before the 2012 Tour – which he won – he was given a TUE for another injection; 40mg of triamcinolone. And the same was repeated the following year, just before the 2013 Giro.

Wiggins wrote his book after the 2012 Tour and before the 2013 Giro.

Walsh, in a thorough and measured piece that’s well worth a read, makes the point that Team Sky has always insisted it would be the cleanest team in the pro peloton.

And he says while the TUEs Wiggins and Froome availed of do not break any rules, Wiggins’ TUEs in particular looked very bad when set against the ethos the team has always espoused.

He says Wiggins rode so well in 2012, both before and during the Tour, that it was hard to see when he may have been ill.

He added there was no mention in his book about 2012 of falling ill around the time of the Tour.

But Walsh accepts the TUE he received then may have been used for preventative purposes in relation to asthmatic symptoms that had occurred in the past.

He concludes of that 2012 TUE: “Few if any of Wiggins’ team mates knew he had been granted that TUE, the same for the support staff.

“The team that wanted to be seen as whiter than white had been dealing in shades of grey. What they did was legal but it wasn’t right.”

A spokesperson for Wiggins said “everybody knows” Wiggins suffers from asthma, adding the leaking of the TUEs arose from a cyber attack on WADA designed to undermine the agency.

“Brad’s passing comment regarding needles in the 2012 book referred to the historic (illegal) practice of intravenous injections of performance enhancing substances which was the subject of the 2011 UCI law change,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“The triamcinolone injection that is referred to in the WADA leaks is an intramuscular treatment for asthma, is fully approved by the sport’s governing bodies and Brad stands by his comment concerning the use of illegal intravenous needle injections.”

 

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