The Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC) says it already has a solution for corticosteroids and Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) that would eliminate Team Sky’s problems.
Bradley Wiggins applied for and received permission to inject corticosteroid triamcinolone ahead of the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Tour de France, and the 2013 Giro d’Italia. Many critics questioned his TUE and its timing since triamcinolone can also help one’s performance. Under the voluntary group’s rules, which seven of the 18 WorldTeams follow, one cannot race for eight days following corticosteroid use.
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“Corticosteroid is still a legitimate medicine if you need it, but you need to take a period of time to get well,” said Anko Boelens, Giant-Alpecin’s team doctor, in a MPCC press release. Giant-Alpecin is one of the member teams, while the likes of Sky and Etixx-Quick Step were never members.
“It’s the same with corticosteroid injections. It’s a valid way of dealing with tendon problems, for example, but if you need to take it then you need to take eight days off from racing. The most important reason in all of this is because we want to eliminate the grey area.”
Team Sky and Wiggins defended their actions. Wiggins, who won the 2012 Tour, said: “This was to cure a medical condition. This wasn’t about trying to find a way to gain an unfair advantage.”
Team boss David Brailsford explained that he would make future certificates public if possible.
“Within MPCC, there is no need to reflect on the corticosteroids TUEs issue,” read the MPCC press release. “This is an automatic process: the rider who need to be treated with this medicine ceases to work for an eight-day period. The measure is effective and followed to the letter by the movement’s members.”
If Sky was a member and it followed the rule, Wiggins would have had to cease racing from June 26 until July 3 and to miss the start of the Tour de France.
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“Some people might feel like that and it might seem like we’re putting ourselves at a disadvantage,” added Boelens. “I don’t see it like that because I think it gives us clarity and it gives us clear boundaries to compete in sport. Also the systems in place by WADA are there to stop people abusing the system but in order to eliminate all doubt, we as the MPCC have our rules.”
The movement’s president, Roger Legeay began the organisation in 2007, one year after the Operación Puerto scandal erupted. It has maintained mostly a French flavour, but the 2012 Lance Armstrong scandal led to more teams joining.
Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme encouraged teams to join and at one point, the MPCC counted 11 WorldTour teams. Currently, the movement involves continental and professional continental teams and WorldTour teams Giant-Alpecin, Ag2r La Mondiale, Cannondale-Drapac, Dimension Data, FDJ, IAM Cycling and Lotto-Soudal.
Regarding the MPCC, Brailsford said that he preferred to stick to the UCI’s and WADA’s rules.
“We support them [the riders] as much as we can with all sorts of interventions, around health in particular,” Brailsford told The Telegraph.
“If the medical community, and the TUE community, feel that it’s appropriate for something to be granted for use in a particular circumstance, then I wouldn’t argue for that to be denied to an athlete. If we think there is anything we can do to help the health of our riders, within the rules, and it’s legitimate. ”