the cocksure Bradley Wiggins, the one whose enigmatic personality and supreme sporting talent had made him one of Britain’s 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.
To be honest, this bit was more illuminating than the rest of the interview, which invited more questions than it answered in dealing with the trio of therapeutic use 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 appear fully to understand, the performance of the first British man to win the Tour de France was often uncomfortable.
“This was to cure a medical condition. This wasn’t 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 said, explaining why he had received an injection for 40mg of triamcinolone just before his triumphant 2012 Tour.
I know he’s not the brightest bulb in the box, but words matter. This medication does not “cure” a medical condition, it treats it. And saying that it “was about putting myself back on a level playing field in order to compete at the highest level,” doesn’t sound like treating a medical condition, it sounds like getting a boost from a questionable medication.
Wiggins’s former doctor discussed this steroid medication, saying:
You do have to think it is kind of coincidental that a big dose of intramuscular long-acting corticosteroids would be needed at that exact time before the most important race of the season. I would certainly say now it does not look good, it doesn’t look right from a health or a sporting perspective.
David Millar is quoted as saying, regarding this drug:
…it was the only [drug] you took and three days later you looked different. It’s quite scary because it’s catabolic so it’s eating into you. It felt destructive. It felt powerful.
Yep. That thin line between treating an illness and cheating…