Geraint Thomas: Team Sky cyclist says TUEs should be scrapped

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We did not cross the ethical line - Wiggins

Cycling's therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) should be scrapped, says Team Sky's Geraint Thomas.

An MPs' report says Team Sky "crossed an ethical line" by using drugs allowed under anti-doping rules to enhance performance instead of just for medical purposes.

Sir Bradley Wiggins was named but told the BBC he is "100%" not a cheat.

Thomas, who says he has never used a TUE, said: "It would be a lot simpler just to get rid of them."

David Lappartient - president of the UCI, world cycling's governing body - has called for an investigation into whether Team Sky broke the rules on anti-doping.

Thomas, speaking to BBC Sport Wales, added: "I haven't [taken a TUE], but if I had, it's not breaking the rules.

"If someone's had a TUE, it's the opposite of doping. They've had the go-ahead from the powers that be to use that substance.

"But this is what's bringing up the whole ethical debate, so in my eyes it would just be easier to get rid of them. It would get rid of the grey area.

"Maybe people will disagree with that but, in my eyes, if you suffer so severely from asthma or allergies that over the counter medications, or medications that don't require TUEs such as Salbutamol can't control, its unfortunate but maybe your body isn't built for the rigours of professional sport.

"It might be unfair, but at the moment that's the only way I can see things becoming a bit more black and white."

Thomas is a leading figure for Team Sky and, along with Chris Froome and Ian Stannard, is one of only three survivors from the original squad of riders from Sky's debut season in 2010.

The Welshman was a team-mate of Wiggins' for five years at Sky before the latter left in 2015 and, earlier in their careers as track cyclists, the two were part of Great Britain's gold medal-winning team pursuit quartet at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

During his time with Sky, asthmatic Wiggins was granted TUEs to take the corticosteroid triamcinolone, which can treat allergies and respiratory issues, shortly before the 2011 Tour de France, his 2012 Tour win and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee report says he used it as many as nine times in four years, which Wiggins described as "completely malicious".

He added he took it just once out of competition - which is legal - "after the 2013 Giro d'Italia, when I came out with a knee problem".

Geraint Thomas
Geraint Thomas wore the leader's yellow jersey during the 2017 Tour de France

Given the scrutiny surrounding TUEs, Thomas says he would not take them even if he needed them for medical reasons.

"Just being in Team Sky, if I had one, it's going to come out, it's going to get leaked," he said.

"If I was in a different team, maybe it wouldn't - but the way the world is at the moment, it's going to come out and people are going to judge me on that.

"If I technically did need it and could have it, I'd probably still not have it purely because of the perception of what TUEs are seen as now, which is wrong in itself, totally wrong.

"Life's not fair I guess. That's what we've got to live up to on this team."

'I have 100% faith in Brailsford'

Having enjoyed success as a track racer, Thomas has impressed since moving to the road with Sky, winning notable stage races such as Paris-Nice and the Tour of the Alps.

The 31-year-old has also excelled in his supporting role as a 'super-domestique', helping Froome win four Tour de France titles.

His Sky contract expires at the end of 2018 and, although he says he will listen to offers from other teams, he insists the recent controversies will not influence his decision.

"There's been some interest so it's certainly worth listening to what they have to say," said Thomas.

"All this that's going on won't affect my decision whether to stay or go.

"I've got 100% faith in Dave [Brailsford, Sky's team principal] and the team and they do everything the right way.

"It is frustrating getting these questions but that wouldn't be a reason to leave."

Thomas was speaking after leading Team Sky to third place in Wednesday's first stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico.

Also racing for Sky in Italy is Froome, who has to explain to the UCI how he returned double the allowed level of legal asthma drug Salbutamol in his urine during his Vuelta a Espana victory in September 2017.

Froome says Sky are "very different" to what was said about them in the MPs' report, a view echoed by Thomas.

"All I can speak of is my experiences - I've never seen anything untoward whatsoever," the Cardiff-born rider added.

"We always try to do things the right way, I certainly do. That's all I can do, worry about myself."

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I don't see why I shouldn't race - Froome

What was in the 'jiffy bag'?

One of the many big talking points to arise from the MPs' report was the contents of the 'jiffy bag' delivered to Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.

The DCMS select committee said it is "not in a position" to state what was in the medical package but added there is no "reliable evidence" to back up Team Sky's claim it contained a legal decongestant.

Former Team Sky coach Shane Sutton, who gave evidence to the committee last year, was asked about a treatment administered to Wiggins on the team bus after winning the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.

Sutton's claim that Wiggins was "treated on the bus" contradicted the views of the cyclist himself and former Sky doctor Richard Freeman, who said Wiggins was treated some hours later at a training camp.

Thomas was a part of Sky's team on that occasion but said Wiggins, Freeman and Sutton should be the ones to answer questions regarding the 'jiffy bag'.

"To be honest, it's six-and-a-half years ago now, so I have no idea. That's definitely a question for them," the Welshman added.

"All I can remember from that race is…well, not a lot really.

"That's one for those three to sort out. I can't really say much more on it."

In a statement, Team Sky said they were "happy to co-operate with any investigation by the UCI and would welcome further scrutiny of the Select Committee's report.

"While we have acknowledged past failings, we strongly deny the very serious new allegations about the use of medication to enhance performance, as does Bradley Wiggins.

"Furthermore, we are concerned that the Committee presented these unsubstantiated allegations without providing evidence to support them, which is fundamentally unfair to the Team and its riders.

"We welcome any review by the UCI which can help establish the nature of the evidence relied on by the Committee in coming to its conclusions."

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