Former Team Sky coach Shane Sutton has said that he thinks it is time that Bradley Wiggins and former Team Sky medic Dr Richard Freeman came forward and give a full explanation of how they used asthma drugs.
Sutton gave an interview with Sky Sports News, broadcast on Tuesday evening in the wake of the publication of the UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee ‘Combatting Doping in Sport’ report. The Committee’s report concluded that Team Sky had ‘crossed an ethical line’ in its use of corticosteroid triamcinolone despite operating within anti-doping rules.
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Wiggins was given triamcinolone prior to the 2011 and 2012 Tour de France, and 2013 Giro d’Italia.
Both Sutton and Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford were questioned by Select Committee MPs, but Wiggins and Freeman did not appear in person to answer questions.
“I’ve no axe to grind with Brad [Wiggins],” said Sutton. “My axe to grind is that the doc [Freeman] and Brad had a chance to come forward, they never came forward they had a chance to defend Dave Brailsford and it should have been them in front of the Select Committee not Dave.
“That grieves me a little bit but not to the point where I wouldn’t sit down with Brad and have a drink, there’s no problem there whatsoever.
“I’m calling for him [Wiggins] and the doc to come forward now and tell the truth.”
During the interview with Sky Sports News, Sutton said that he had limited knowledge of the medication – including triamcinolone – that Wiggins was given.
“I can’t say I know a lot about Brad’s use of it, either in competition or out of competition,” said Sutton.
Referring to Wiggins’s therapeutic use exemption certificate allowing him to use triamcinolone out of competition, Sutton said: “He was sanctioned to use it by the UCI in the lead-up to major tours because obviously he’s a sufferer.
“When you’ve actually been in the cold and seen him suffering, and gasping for breath at the end of that particular effort… but to see what he was going through, I can’t answer all of the questions on how often he used it or when, I think that’s something that only Brad and the doc can tell us.”
Sutton underlined that Wiggins had the appropriate TUE in place to use triamcinolone, and that he is not a ‘cheat’.
“The word cheat needs to be taken out of the equation here because the report in the tabloids and everything else is that he didn’t cheat. So come forward and tell everybody what you went through, how many times you actually administered this particular corticosteroid or whatever to combat what you were going through and I think, you know, let’s just put it to bed.”
Sutton refuted the statement in the Select Committee report that Wiggins trained with a Sky’s Tour de France riders who all used triamcinolone to lose weight, according to confidential evidence presented to them “from a well-placed and respected source”.
“I totally refute that,” said Sutton. “If that was to happen, do you not think that the governing bodies out there, the system in place, the whereabouts system and everything else… that these riders weren’t tested? They were tested on a regular basis.
“Brad and I tended to work in isolation in that period, where the source says this happened so I’d like to know when. There weren’t that many occasions where I was present where all the Tour riders would come together with Brad. I have no recollection of training with that group, knowing where that particular group was together as this particular person says.
“For me, that is a total lie. Someone who has very much got an axe to grind with Team Sky.”
Sutton also denied that he put pressure on Freeman to use TUEs, calling it ‘laughable’ and ‘utter nonsense’.
Sutton was also asked during the Sky Sports News interview about the contents of the jiffy bag delivered to Team Sky during the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné race in France. Dr Freeman had stated that it was decongestant fluimucil for Wiggins.
Sutton said that Wiggins was given the medication on the Team Sky bus after he won the 2011 Dauphiné, saying that is what he had been told by Dr Freeman.
Sky Sports News spoke to Dr Freeman by telephone, who told them that he did not treat Wiggins on the team bus after the race but did so at a training camp in Sestriere hours later. He treated Wiggins with fluimucil via an inhaler.