LONDON (Reuters) - Three-times Tour de France winner Chris Froome has said he was never offered or administered the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone by Team Sky and was not aware of other riders in the British outfit taking it.
His former team mate and fellow Briton Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour in 2012, was legally given triamcinolone shortly before the 2011 and 2012 Tours and the 2013 Giro d‘Italia to treat pollen allergies that aggravated asthma.
Wiggins was allowed to take triamcinolone after being cleared by cycling’s world governing body (UCI) under a therapeutic use exemption (TUE), which allows athletes to take otherwise banned substances to treat medical conditions.
During an ongoing investigation by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) into allegations of possible wrongdoing by the British team, it was disclosed earlier this year that 55 doses of triamcinolone had been ordered by Team Sky between 2010 and 2013.
However, Froome, who like Wiggins had his medical records, including the use of TUEs, made public by Russian cyber hackers Fancy Bears last year, said he had never used triamcinolone.
“I can only speak about my experiences in the team at the time,” Froome, who is focused on trying to win a fourth Tour de France at next month’s race, told The Guardian. “I certainly haven’t been offered triamcinolone in the team.”
Team Sky has been under a cloud over the contents of a ‘jiffy bag’ delivered to the team’s then doctor Richard Freeman at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.
A newspaper report alleged it was triamcinolone, although team principal Dave Brailsford said the package contained the legal flu treatment Fluimucil.
Brailsford told a parliamentary committee in December that “mistakes were made” in Team Sky’s record-keeping but he has always denied that the team was involved in any wrongdoing.
The saga is likely to drag on throughout the Tour de France and 32-year-old Froome, who is negotiating a new deal with Sky where he is under contract until the end of next year, said it was an unnecessary distraction.
”Honestly, I haven’t given it much thought,“ he said. ”It’s not something I’ve gone and done my own investigation on. I’ve been so focused on getting ready for (the Tour in) July.
“I can only speak about my experience in the team. It hasn’t been my experience that triamcinolone has been handed out freely as has been suggested.”
Team Sky have said that only a small amount of the triamcinolone was administered to riders under TUEs with the rest being used to treat staff members.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris