A short Tv interview of Bradley Wiggins on the Andrew Marr Show was never going to yield the detailed answers necessitated about TUE use but it is time Team Sky explained themselves
The cocksure Bradley Wiggins, the one whose enigmatic personality and supreme sport talent had induced him one of Britains best loved sportsmen, was gone. In his place was one nervously trying to remember lines to take in response to a series of soft questions from an interviewer who perhaps understandably after another tumultuous week in Westminster had his mind on other things.
Indeed, things were neatly wrapped up in enough time for Andrew Marr to slip in a couple of questions about politics and fashion, from which we learned that Wiggins thinks Jeremy Corbyn is a lovely fella but believes Theresa May has done a decent chore as prime minister.
To be honest, this bit was more illuminating than the rest of the interview, which invited more topics than it answered in dealing with the trio of therapeutic employ exemptions granted to Wiggins in 2011, 2012 and 2013 to allow him to take the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone, for legitimate medical reasons before his biggest races of the season. Yet even with Marr failing to follow up on the questions he asked but did not always seem fully to understand, the performance of the first British human to win the Tour de France was often uncomfortable.
This was to cure a medical condition. This wasnt about trying to find a way to gain an unfair advantage; this was about putting myself back on a level playing field in order to compete at the highest level, Wiggins told, explaining why he had received an injection for 40 mg of triamcinolone just before his triumphant 2012 Tour.
He said he had really struggled with respiratory problems in the run-up to the 2012 Tour one of the high point even among so many in that golden summertime for British athletic. But he did not really explain how that tallied with the account he gave in 2012 in his autobiography.
Then, Wiggins told: Id done all the work, I was fine-tuned. I was ready to go. My body was in good shape. Im in the form of my life. I was only ill once or twice with minor colds, and I barely lost a days developing from it.
Nor did he genuinely manage to explain the contradiction between the no needles rhetoric espoused in the same book and the fact he received injections of a powerful narcotic just before the biggest races of his life; nor the fact that he has never discussed the TUEs in any of his books or since. His contention that he believed questions on needles to refer exclusively to doping is similarly hard to countenance.
Surely the reason Wiggins is struggling to explain Team Skys strategy with regard to using TUEs is because he cannot. It is what it is that at the same time as reaping the PR benefits of a zero tolerance approach to doping Team Sky was secretly pushing the limits of the rules as they stand. Perhaps Sir Dave Brailsford and Team Sky find it easy to reconcile the two. For others on the outside it cannot help but be suggested that an ethical Rubicon has been crossed.
Yet, as the spotlight falls on Wiggins to explain himself and to do so in an open press conference or a long-form interview rather than over five minutes on a Sunday morning politics show it is important to remember that apparatus behind him. The 36 -year-old cyclist, who only several short weeks ago looked as though he would retire on the highest of highs after winning gold in the Rio Velodrome, has at least ultimately broken cover.
From Team Sky and Brailsford, the man described by David Walsh as the conductor of the orchestra in his 2013 book Inside Team Sky, there has been nothing but the sound of wagons circling. Seeming on BBC Radio 5 Lives Sportsweek on Sunday, the British Olympic Associations vice-chairman, Hugh Robertson, repeatedly stimulated the point that it was vital not to conflate the Fancy Bears leak with the Russian state sponsored doping scandal uncovered by Professor Richard McLaren.
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