Lizzie Deignan (formerly Armitstead) has called for the UCI to review the therapeutic use exemption (TUE) regulations that permitted Sir Bradley Wiggins to use the corticosteroid triamcinolone to treat pollen allergies before three major races.
Speaking to The Guardian before the world championships road race in which she finished fourth, Deignan said that stricter rules were required. “You can’t say they [corticosteroids] need to be totally banned, but [the UCI] need to look harder at them and have a longer period when riders are out of competition after an injection.”
She argues that the issue is not just of a rider potentially gaining an unfair advantage, it is also a matter of doing what’s best for the athlete in question.
“The thing with [them] is that you are pushing the boundaries of human ability all the time and if there are loopholes, that allows people to push over their limits, which is detrimental for everyone. For example, you might have an overuse injury in the knee and be recommended cortisone which means you can make a rapid recovery, but it’s not a solution to the long-term problem.
“The pressure is on all the time to be as good as you can, so the UCI need to protect riders and [stricter rules] would stop abuse of the system.”
Deignan also spoke about the furore earlier in the year when she faced a ban following a trio of whereabouts failures.
Sir Bradley Wiggins has come in for criticism this week after it was revealed he had registered a whereabouts failure himself shortly before saying there was ‘no excuse’ for Deignan failing to comply.
Deignan declined to comment on what Wiggins had said, but seemed to be of the opinion that he wasn’t fully informed. “In my situation I’d take everything I read with a pinch of salt. I would sit down with that person and take the time to see their reasons.”
Reflecting on the experience, she said she had “never expected it would blow up on such a scale.”
“I was taking advice from people who I thought were experts in how to handle it. And, actually, the moment when I trusted my instincts and made my own statement – I wrote [it] at 3am in my hotel bed prior to flying to Rio – that was the moment when I felt the most comfortable. When I was able to say what I wanted to say and I wasn’t being guided. But I don’t think there is any right way of handling that. It was a perfect storm.”
With Yorkshire having been awarded the 2019 UCI Road World Championships, the Otley-born rider said she was considering extending her career until then, but added that would in part depend on whether the chosen course was hilly enough.
“It hinges on what they do with the route. The rumour is that it may be flat which would be disappointing.”
Should the race finish on a circuit around Leeds or York, that may well be the case – although that isn’t to say that the riders wouldn’t tackle tougher terrain earlier on.
Deignan did however compare the likely experience to that this week in Doha.
“There’s been much discussion about the fact there are no spectators here, and thinking about Yorkshire it will be huge and you begin thinking you’d be mad to miss it. I’m open-minded, so never say never.”