Former Tour de France and Olympic champion Bradley Wggins is suddenly very gray. His golden reputation has taken a serious hit.
Despite his vociferous anti-doping stance and the claim in his My Time book that he’d never recieved any injections besides vaccinations and drips, Wiggins had in fact received six injections after submitting for the Therapeutic Use Exemptions. All this secret news courtesy of the Fancy Bear cyberhack that led to the release of the private information.
The timing of those injections, right before the 2011, 2012 Tour de France and 2013 Giro d’Italia, raises serious questions about the supposed allergies and opened a debate into the performance enhancing effects of the drug Triamcinolone.
Strictly on the letter of the law, Wiggins’ actions were within the rules of the game, however, it’s also a gray area where many critics see an opportunistic manipulation in order to gain a competitive edge. Given that Team Sky has from day one promoted itself as racing clean and promising transparency, it’s a public relations disaster.
The reaction from Wiggins was a “nothing new here” dismissal that was tone deaf and passed though a spokesperson. We have yet to hear a word from team manager David Brailsford on the subject. Sky Team’s Sky’s response was boilerplate PR about following the approved “process” and reiterating their commitment to clean cycling.
However, it’s the exact definition of clean cycling that is under scrutiny. Triamcinolone is a wonderful drug for alleges but also stimulates fat burning (boosting the power to weight ratio) and minimizes the sensations of pain. Just the kind of boxes you’d like to check before a grand tour.
One former pro doper, Joerg Jaksche, told Cyclingnews that he believes it would be worth a 2.5% jump in performance. “You could probably do 15 Watts more. It’s still a lot but it has different effects. It gives you faster recovery and you can lose weight and burn fat. On the other side it also decreases pain and inflammation level.”
That’s all bad news for Wiggins and he’s done a terrible job of explanation and damage control. He is practicing the time honored “this will all blow over shortly” strategy of managing public opinion. Maybe, like an annoying rash, it will. go away. Then again, he’s looking very, very gray right now.