• Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (C) at the 2012 UCI Road World Championships men's elite road race in Valkenburg, The Netherlands. (Getty)Source: Getty
A former team-mate of Bradley Wiggins has called into question the use of a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for triamcinolone before his 2012 Tour de France win.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
Reuters
7 Oct 2016 - 7:46 AM  UPDATED 8 Oct 2016 - 5:05 AM

Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, who rode for Team Sky until he was sacked for a doping violation in 2014, was asked about Wiggins's use of the anti-inflammatory drug in a BBC interview.

"I don't want to insinuate anything but the timing doesn't look great," Tiernan-Locke said.

"You assume if you had a need for such a thing it would be consistent throughout his career, that you'd use it year in year out, so from that point of view it looks suspicious."

Wiggins's use of TUEs, which allow athletes to take banned substances for verified medical needs and are signed off by sports federations, was leaked last month by the Russian-based Fancy Bears cyber hacking site.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of five-times Olympic gold medal winner Wiggins who denied looking for any "unfair advantage", saying the medication was to reduce the impact of asthma and allergies.

Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford also defended Wiggins by saying he had suffered from allergies for as long as he had known him and that the team had not "crossed the line".

Tiernan-Locke said that while Sky would have been thorough in their preparation for the Tour de France, the way their use of TUEs was revealed had aroused suspicion.

"People I have spoken to, out of training, it has kind of tainted (Sky's) image somewhat," he said.

"I think their modus operandi was to put things out in the public domain and look transparent and not have anything to hide. It's somewhat less than transparent.

"From the other perspective we've got a guy who's favourite for the general classification in these big races, so for a team like Sky who are so thorough, they don't want to leave anything to chance, so why risk these allergies derailing their best-laid plans, so I understand it."

The data leak also showed Wiggins was given permission to take triamcinolone before the 2011 Tour de France and 2013 Tour of Italy.

On each occasion, the TUE was approved by British authorities and cycling's governing body the UCI.

Highlighting the grey areas in the sport, Tiernan-Locke said that he was offered Tramadol at the 2012 world road race championships, a powerful painkiller not on the banned list but which has been blamed for erratic riding and crashes in the peloton.

“There was a time I rode the World Championships and we were offered a painkiller called Tramadol. I wasn’t in any pain so I didn’t need to take it, and that was offered freely around. And then we are seeing later on that they are calling for it to be banned and it should be on the WADA list and whatnot.

"And then we are seeing later on that they are calling for it to be banned and it should be on the WADA list and whatnot.

“It just didn’t sit well with me at the time. I thought, ‘I’m not in any pain, why would I want a painkiller?’”

Sources within British Cycling say the team doctor at the 2012 Road Cycling World Championships denies the claim.

Tiernan-Locke was the leading British finisher at the race, placing 19th.

Many riders and staff members had dual roles with British Cycling and Team Sky squads at the time.

Team Sky in 2014 insisted none of its riders used Tramadol after comments from former rider Michael Barry.

According to the Daily Mail, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) are investigating Wiggins and Sky about "allegations of wrongdoing".

UKAD are reportedly also seeking information about a package of medication that was flown to Geneva and then driven to a Sky medical official on June 12, 2011, after Wiggins's Criterium du Dauphine victory.

Team Sky said in a statement they had been contacted by the newspaper and immediately conducted an internal review to establish the facts.

"We are confident there has been no wrongdoing," it added. "We informed British Cycling of the allegation and asked them to contact UKAD, who we will continue to liaise with.

"Team Sky is committed to clean competition. Our position on anti-doping is well known and we 100 per cent stand by that."