In Depth

Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins crossed an ethical line says doping report

In Depth: Cyclist denies the accusations and says the DCMS committee’s findings are ‘sad’

An explosive report has found that Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky “crossed an ethical line” after drugs were used to enhance performance before the cyclist’s 2012 Tour de France victory. According to the report, there was no evidence of medical need in the use of these drugs.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee said that Wiggins “deliberately used medical exemptions”, The Times reports, to prepare for the race in 2012. The DCMS report added that British Olympic hero Wiggins and Team Sky riders used the “powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone to enhance performance rather than for medical needs”. 

The Guardian reports that Team Sky “abused the system” of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which are in effect “a doctor’s note allowing a banned substance to be used for the treatment of a legitimate medical condition”. 

According to the DCMS report, which is called Combatting Doping in Sport, Team Sky’s application for the TUE to use triamcinolone didn’t violate any World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) code, but does “cross the ethical line” set out by Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford.

What does the DCMS report say?

The DCMS select committee believes that the “powerful” corticosteroid (triamcinolone) was used to prepare Wiggins, and possibly other riders supporting him, for the Tour de France.

The long-awaited 52-page report states: “The purpose of this was not to treat medical need, but to improve his power-to-weight ratio ahead of the race. The application for the TUE for the triamcinolone for Bradley Wiggins, ahead of the 2012 Tour de France, also meant that he benefited from the performance-enhancing properties of this drug during the race.”

The report adds: “This does not constitute a violation of the World Anti-Doping Agency code, but it does cross the ethical line that David Brailsford says he himself drew for Team Sky. In this case, and contrary to the testimony of David Brailsford in front of the committee, we believe that drugs were being used by Team Sky, within the Wada rules, to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical need.”

What do Wiggins and Team Sky say?

Wiggins, an asthma sufferer, and Team Sky deny they used triamcinolone to enhance the cyclist’s performance, Sky Sports reports. 

The 37-year-old said on Twitter: “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.” 

Team Sky’s statement read: “The report details, again, areas in the past where we have already acknowledged that the team fell short. We take full responsibility for mistakes that were made.

“However, the report also makes the serious claim that medication has been used by the Team to enhance performance. We strongly refute this. The report also includes an allegation of widespread Triamcinolone use by Team Sky riders ahead of the 2012 Tour de France. Again, we strongly refute this allegation.

“We are surprised and disappointed that the Committee has chosen to present an anonymous and potentially malicious claim in this way, without presenting any evidence or giving us an opportunity to respond. This is unfair both to the Team and to the riders in question.”

What next for Wiggins and Team Sky?

Following the publication of the DCMS report, the reputation of Britain’s most decorated Olympian, Team Sky and its principal Brailsford is under threat.

The Guardian says that the report is a “potential death knell” for Team Sky while the BBC calls it “a devastating blow to the reputations of some of the biggest names in British sport”.

The Daily Telegraph adds that Wiggins’s reputation, and Team Sky’s very future, are “hanging by a thread”. This comes after former Team Sky coach Shane Sutton “effectively admitted” that the “notorious Jiffy bag” delivered to Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine contained triamcinolone.

Athletics’s reputation is badly damaged

The Daily Mail believes that athletics’s reputation is “in tatters” after Sebastian Coe was condemned by MPs for “suppressing doping revelations”.

Coe, who is president of athletics’s world governing body, the IAAF, “misled” MPs about his knowledge of doping in Russian athletics. The Mail says that Coe was “heavily criticised” by the select committee after it expressed “deep concern” over the IAAF’s “willingness to share information with anti-doping agencies”.

The DCMS also questioned whether the IAAF were “fully committed to investigating difficult issues when they arise”, the Mail reports.

British sport is far from perfect

The BBC says that the report concludes by highlighting “the failure of sports bodies in their governance and policing of anti-doping rules”.

The Beeb’s sports editor Dan Roan adds: “For years we have been told that British sporting success is down purely to world-class preparation, wise investment choices and raw talent. This is a sobering reminder that when it comes to standing up for clean sport, Britain is far from perfect.”

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