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Wiggins defends TUE use ahead of Tour win

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Sir Bradley Wiggins has again defended being granted permission to receive injections of a banned drug before three major races, including his historic win in the 2012 Tour de France.

The 36-year-old five-time Olympic champion understands the furore which erupted when his use of powerful anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone on the eve of the 2011 and 2012 Tours and 2013 Giro d'Italia was revealed by a group of Russian computer hackers.

Wiggins, who has a British record eight Olympic medals and was the first Briton to win the Tour, applied for, and was granted, three therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) to take the drug to deal with a pollen allergy that aggravates his long-standing asthma condition.

But triamcinolone has also been widely used as a doping agent by riders, including Lance Armstrong, and is believed to help athletes lose weight, fight fatigue and aid recovery.

Wiggins was "fully aware" of the history of the drug "the taboo surrounding it all ... the misuse and the abuse of this drug in the past" and of those who believe its use is unethical.

He told the Guardian: "Without all the context of someone's history then I could see that on paper maybe, especially the way some of it has been reported.

"It was for a very specific thing ... to treat something that was historically a problem for me and could be quite a serious problem for me."

Wiggins' TUEs, which were stolen from the World Anti-Doping Agency's computer servers by the so-called 'Fancy Bears international hack team', were approved by cycling's world governing body the UCI and there is no suggestion that he or Team Sky, for whom he was racing at the time, have broken any rules.

But that has not stopped both the rider and Team Sky facing a barrage of criticism from inside and outside the sport, particularly given the team's much-publicised "zero tolerance" attitude towards doping, and Wiggins' own comments about drugs cheats and the use of needles in his autobiographies.

Wiggins attempted to address the controversy in an interview with Andrew Marr on the BBC before Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford outlined a further defence on Monday.

But more questions were left unanswered and Wiggins' latest interview in the Guardian is an attempt for further clarification.

Wiggins' former Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, now a three-time Tour winner who finished runner-up to Wiggins in 2012, was the subject of controversy after it was revealed he received a TUE for a steroid to treat a chest infection prior to winning the 2014 Tour de Romandie.

"I saw the hysteria that caused and I understand in the post-Armstrong (era)," Wiggins said.

"Yeah, I do understand. But what I don't understand is that you've automatically just assumed that this was a performance enhancer."

Wiggins outlined his history of asthma and allergies in the interview with the Guardian, dating back to the 2003 Giro d'Italia.

He insisted he had not previously disclosed them in his autobiographies, including the 2012 tome 'My Time', because he did not wish to make excuses and was on a high after a summer in which he became the first man to win the Tour and Olympic gold in the same year.

Wiggins also insisted inconsistencies in dates on his TUE forms were clerical errors.

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