UCI president David Lappartient has said that the governing body should open an investigation into Team Sky to address the allegations contained in the report published this week by a House of Commons Select Committee examining how to combat doping in sport.
The report, compiled by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said that the UCI WorldTour outfit had crossed an “ethical line” through the use of drugs, within anti-doping rules, not for medicinal purposes but instead to enhance the performance of riders.
It cited a Team Sky insider, who gave evidence anonymously, who claimed that at a training camp ahead of the 2012 Tour de France, Sir Bradley Wiggins – winner of that year’s race – and other riders took the corticosteroid triamcinolone to help improve their power-to-weight ration ahead of the race.
Lappartient, who ousted Britain’s Brian Cookson from the UCI presidency last September, with allegations of bullying and sexism at British Cycling as well as the controversy surrounding Team Sky thought to be factors in the Frenchman’s victory, told BBC Sport’s Dan Roan that the allegations "could affect the global credibility of the sport."
He said: "If you are using substances to increase your performances, I think this is exactly what is cheating,” and would ask the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), which operates independently of the UCI, "to see if there is some violation of anti-doping rules.
"It's sad to see that when Team Sky was launched, I remember- they say 'we will be clean, we will win races and be clean, more white than white'. We can see in this report that it seems to be a little bit different.
"We have the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation, they have the power of investigation. I would like them to do this, to see if there is some violation of anti-doping rules.”
Referring to Wiggins’ use of triamcinolone under a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) ahead of key races including the 2011 and 2012 Tour de France and 2013 Giro d’Italia, he said: "They had at the time the TUE agreement but now we have the evidence that it seems to be organised."
TUE rules have since been tightened up, but talking about the regime in operation at the time, Lappartient said: "Just by a letter of support from the doctor, then it was not so difficult to get the TUE, which is something completely different now.
"So you have to put this in the context of the time; the grey zone was too big and it seemed that this grey zone has been used by Team Sky at the time so, is it doping? Is it just using the rules? That is why the MPs' report just says they were not breaching the rules."
He added: "I read the press release from Team Sky saying 'look we apologise, we recognise that we made some mistakes'. A mistake is something you've done without an intention to be wrong. The report is a little bit different.
"It seems that it was a little bit organised, so it's maybe not a mistake but a fault, which is different, because that could affect the credibility globally of our sport and that's why I'm concerned about this."
The UCI president also spoke about the ongoing Chris Froome salbutamol case, and has previously said that the Tour de France and Vuelta champion should voluntarily suspend himself from racing until it is resolved.
"We need to have a decision as soon as possible for Chris Froome himself, for his team, for us, for cycling," he said.
"Of course, we have to respect the rights of Chris Froome to defend what he thinks and what he believes with experts. So that's why it's taking some time.
"I'm not sure we can have the decision before May's Giro d'Italia - I hope we can have it at least before the Tour de France in July because, can you imagine if he's riding the Giro and with spectators crying against him, or if at the end he's disqualified from the Giro - that's something difficult for our sport."
Both Wiggins and Team Sky have stronly denied the allegations contained in the Select Committe's report, while Froome is putting together a defence to try and explain how he came to be found with twice the permitted level of salbutam
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.