Sir Bradley Wiggins says he didn't publicise his severe pollen allergy because he didn't want to make excuses for underperforming
In an interview with the Guardian‘s William Fotheringham, Wiggins admitted he had been suffering allergic reactions to pollen since his first Giro d’Italia in 2003, and from asthma since 15 years old.
Wiggins has been in the spotlight since Russian hackers leaked details of three TUEs for triamcinolone, a steroid that alleviates allergy symptoms but has also been abused by athletes in the past for performance-enhancing gains.
The former Team Sky rider failed to mention in his autobiography that he had been prescribed the drug and also didn’t talk about his allergies, something the 2012 Tour de France winner said didn’t spring to mind when writing the book.
“I was paranoid about making excuses: ‘Ah, my allergies have kicked in.’ I’d learned to live with this thing,” he told Fotheringham. “It wasn’t something I was going to shout from the rooftops and use as an excuse and say, “my allergies have started off again”. That’s convenient isn’t it Brad, your allergies started when you got dropped.
“I didn’t mention it in the book. I’d come off a season of … I’d won everything that year. When I was writing the book I wasn’t sat there thinking, ‘I’d better bring my allergies up’. I was flying on cloud nine after dominating the sport all year. It wasn’t something that I brought to mind.
“Like I said, I’ve lived with this. All the doctors over the years I’ve been with in various teams will verify that I was always complaining of allergies. It will be in my medical records, the things they gave to me.”
There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Wiggins or anyone at Team Sky. The Brit admits that he assumes the likes of Sir Dave Brailsford, Shane Sutton and Tim Kerrison at Team Sky were aware of the medication he had been prescribed in the TUE at the time, although Dr Richard Freeman was the only person he knows was definitely aware.
And Wiggins, who won his fifth Olympic gold medal in Rio this August, says he was aware of the taboo about the Kenalog drug he was administered, which had been abused by athletes previously.
“It was for a very specific thing … to treat something that was historically a problem for me and could be quite a serious problem for me,” he said. “I’d become a potential favourite for the Tour de France, or certainly to get on the podium.
“I’d returned to the form I was in in 2009 and the only thing that could really stop me from achieving that was if I struggled with allergies during the race. It happens.”
And instead of enhancing his performance during the 2011 Tour de France, Wiggins believes that it actually hindered his riding before he crashed out of the race on stage seven.
“I actually think it was a detriment to my performance,” he said. “As the first week went on I felt like I was getting weaker and weaker, I didn’t have the power. Obviously I crashed out so I will never know. I was borderline there anyway, right down probably below [the weight] that was ideal for me and I think this just tipped me over the edge.”