Sir Bradley Wiggins has hit back angrily at a report published yesterday that suggested he may have broken anti-doping rules, saying “I’d have more rights if I’d murdered someone.”
The Combatting Doping in Sport report, compiled by the House of Commons Digital, Media, Culture and Sport Select Committee after an 18-month inquiry, was highly critical of Wiggins and Team Sky, with whom he raced from 2010 to 2014.
Among allegations contained in the report was one from a former senior employee of Team Sky, speaking anonymously, who claimed that the corticosteroid triamcinolone was used by Wiggins and other members of the team at training camps not on medical grounds but to improve their performance.
One of the effects of the drug is that it enables the user to quickly shed weight without losing muscle power, thereby improving their power-to-weight ratio.
The committee also said that it had doubt, in the absence of reliable evidence, that the infamous Jiffy Bag delivered to former team doctor Richard Freeman at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné did not contain the legal decongestant Fluimucil, as team principal Sir Dave Brailsford had told MPs in December 2016, but triamcinolone.
The drug is banned during competition, so if it had been in the package, that would have constituted an anti-doping rule violation, and the committee’s verdict on Team Sky and Wiggins was that even if no rules had been broken, they had crossed an “ethical line.”
It’s an allegation that Wiggins strongly rejected in an interview with BBC Sport’s Dan Roan yesterday.
“Not at any time in my career did we cross the ethical line,” he insisted.
“I refute that 100 per cent. This is malicious. This is someone trying to smear me. I would love to know who it is, I think it would answer a lot of questions.
“These allegations, it’s the worst thing to be accused of,” he continued.
“It’s also the hardest thing to prove you haven’t done. We’re not dealing in a legal system. I’d have had more rights if I’d murdered someone.”
The 37-year-old has previously spoken of the impact of news stories casting doubt on whether he was riding clean on his family, including his children facing taunts from schoolmates, and returned to that theme yesterday.
He said: “I’m trying to be in retirement and do other things in my life and the effect it’s had, the widespread effect on the family, it’s horrific.
“I don’t know how I’m going to pick the pieces up with the kids and stuff, as well as try and salvage my reputation from this, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.”
The select committee, chaired by the MP Damien Collins, said in its report: “From the evidence presented to the committee it might appear that Bradley Wiggins may have been treated with triamcinolone on up to nine occasions, in and out of competition, during a four-year period. It would be hard to know what possible medical need could have required such a seemingly excessive use of this drug.”
However, Wiggins countered: “I am a rider for Team Sky, the biggest team in the world at that point.
“If you’ve got niggles, problems, a knee injury, common cold, you go to the doctor in the team.
“We are hypochondriacs as athletes, especially coming to the height of the season, the biggest race of the year, whether it is the Olympics Games or the Tour de France.
“So it was completely under medical need and this whole thing has been a complete mess of innuendo and rumour and nothing has been substantiated.”
While the report is based on previously published evidence provided either in writing or in person to the committee, Wiggins said: “These allegations have never been put to me before until now.
“I’ve only found out today what I’m actually being accused of.
“I mean, the whole Jiffy Bag thing was just a shambles,” he added.
Roan asked him, “What was in the Jiffy Bag?”
“God knows,” Wiggins replied. “Your guess is as good as mine.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.