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Wiggins now has shadow hanging over him: Irvine

By Steven Beacom

Ulster's former World Track Champion Martyn Irvine believes that a shadow now hangs over 2012 Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medallist Sir Bradley Wiggins for his use of a banned steroid before races.

Newtownards rider Irvine adds that the image of Wiggins has been tarnished following the controversy that has rocked cycling and led to three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy stating that Team Sky’s Wiggins has questions to answer.

Wiggins, Britain’s most decorated Olympian, and Team Sky deny wrongdoing, insisting the use of the powerful anti-inflammatory triamcinolone before the Tour de France in 2011 and 2012 and 2013 Giro d’Italia was medically necessary to deal with a pollen allergy that aggravates Wiggins’ asthma condition.

There is no suggestion any rules were broken and the therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) were approved by the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, and relevant anti-doping authorities, but that hasn’t stopped the cycling world talking about it.

Irvine, a long-time critic of drugs in sport, said: “What has happened has tarnished Wiggins. There is a shadow over him now. It will always be there.”

Irvine, who this month joined Ireland's first ever professional cycling team Aqua Blue, added: "To my mind they got their hand caught in the cookie jar. They tried to bend the rules for their maximum benefit and they got caught doing it. It's not illegal what they have done but in my eyes it is unethical.

"Cycling gets a lot of bad press but I do believe the sport wants to change the image and actively chase the problem.

"I can't believe there aren't other sports stars in other sports with stuff pumping through their blood that shouldn't be there. It's happening out there and it depends on who wants to turn a blind eye or not. There are more sports than cycling which have problems."

The Wiggins issue is the latest controversial episode to hit British cycling in a rollercoaster year.

Great Britain's cyclists topped the medal table at the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, but this followed Shane Sutton leaving his role as British Cycling technical director in April, 100 days prior to the Games, following discrimination allegations. Sutton denies the allegations, which are the subject of an independent review.

Ian Drake is set to depart his role as British Cycling Chief Executive in April.

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