Chris Froome has backed Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford and dismissed as “absolute rubbish” claims he was among those treated with corticosteroids in the build-up to the 2012 Tour de France.
Sir Bradley Wiggins, Brailsford and Team Sky have been accused of “crossing an ethical line” by asking for therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for banned medication they did not really need in a report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee.
Wiggins insisted in an interview with the BBC he only used prescribed drugs for valid medical reasons and when asked if he categorically denied cheating, said: “A hundred per cent. Never, throughout my career”, while claiming he is the victim of a “malicious” attempt to “smear” his reputation.
The DCMS select committee report centred around the team’s use of triamcinolone to treat Wiggins’ asthma.
Triamcinolone is an anti-inflammatory steroid that can be used for medical purposes, but can also help cyclists shed weight without losing power.
The DCMS report says the team crossed the ethical line by using the medication, and this was denied by Wiggins.
Team Sky’s owners are understood to be backing Brailsford, while Froome rejected calls for him to resign.
Froome is currently preparing for the Tirreno-Adriatico race in Italy, where the build-up was dominated by fallout for the damning DCMS select committee report, which said the treatment was used to prepare Wiggins “and possibly other riders supporting him”.
The Team Sky lead racer, though, refuted any such association when speaking to reporters in Italy.
“I’ve never seen anything like that, it’s not my experience within the team, that that’s how the team operates,” Froome said.
Pressed on whether he was part of the Team Sky riders prepared the same way as Wiggins for the 2012 Tour de France, Froome, himself subsequently a four-time winner of the prestigious event, replied: “No. That’s absolute rubbish, I’ve seen that accusation, but no that’s complete rubbish.”
The Briton continued: “I can only speak from my own experiences in the team.
“I’ve been there for eight years, since day one, when the team started. I certainly have a very different picture to what’s been painted in the headlines.
“I’m proud to be part of the team. I wouldn’t have stayed so long, I wouldn’t have been in the team, I wouldn’t still be in the team, if I didn’t believe in the team and the people around me.
“Dave B (Brailsford) has brought all those people together and we’ve got a fantastic group of people.”
Froome himself continues to race while fighting to prove his innocence after returning an adverse analytical finding for asthma drug salbutamol during last year’s La Vuelta – a race he won in a historic Tour-Vuelta double.
The Team Sky rider, though, will not let anything deflect his focus on the road during the ongoing doping tribunal.
“That’s part of something I’ve been dealing with over my whole career as a pro cyclist,” Froome said
“I’ve come up against adversity and I’ve learnt how to compartmentalise things. Right now, I’m here to race Tirreno and I’m focusing on that, and I’m building towards the Giro d’Italia.”