Bradley Wiggins has spoken out for the first time on Chris Froome‘s salbutamol case, describing the situation as “a mess” and praising Froome’s conduct over the past nine months, but also calling for greater investment in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Asked on The Bradley Wiggins Show on Eurosport whether he thought WADA’s salbutamol regulations were fit for purpose, Wiggins said “apparently not, and apparently it hasn’t been for a while. There are so many people coming out and giving their opinions and it’s really difficult to get to the roots of what the actual facts are.
“We have to respect that he’s allowed to race, and within a safe environment. There’s all kinds of abuse at the moment and no athlete should have to ride in those conditions and have their safety questioned at the sport’s biggest event.
“Without the leak we wouldn’t even know about it, but that’s the nature of sport now. Had it not been Chris Froome there wouldn’t have been a leak. I think someone saw an opportunity, one of the big organisations maybe did it to get one over on someone else, and it’s overshadowed the sport all year.”
Wiggins has had a frosty relationship with Froome dating back to their time together at Team Sky, especially around the 2012 Tour de France where Froome finished second to Wiggins in Paris.
However Wiggins praised his former team-mate’s professionalism in dealing with the last nine months and still arriving at the Tour de France as the race favourite.
“Earlier in the year I thought it might affect him but he’s managed to remain dignified and rise above it, with a historic Giro and for me he is still a favourite to win the Tour de France. He’s proved in the past that he can deal with whatever’s thrown at him.”
Wiggins also criticised the lack of communication from WADA and the UCI as the case went on, but still called for WADA to be given more investment even if some of the organisations rules needed to be rewritten.
“What I think is more the issue is how the UCI and WADA are communicating as we heard nothing for eight or nine months and then all of a sudden we heard it within a day and he could race the next day,” Wiggins continued. “Could this decision have been made earlier? It’s just a mess.
“Did they already know the test was flawed? Apparently they may have already known that months ago and this could have happened with anyone.
“It had nothing to do with Team Sky at the start. They would have asked Chris questions, he would have explained himself and they would have trusted him and so the team have supported him through it. It could happen to any team, but because it was Team Sky it got leaked, there is a feeling of anti-Team Sky.
“Something needs reviewing massively. I don’t think WADA have a massive amount of money, they need more investment. They were set-up 20 years ago and their rules were probably written then, so perhaps they need to be re-written. But to really combat doping in sport and the more secret ways people are finding to dope in sport they need more money and funding.”
You can watch the Tour de France live and on-demand on the Eurosport Player, with six additional camera feeds and uninterrupted, ad-free coverage. Visit www.eurosportplayer.com to sign up for your free seven-day trial.
The Tour de France continues on Monday with a 35.5km team time trial starting and finishing in Cholet.