Wiggins makes strong anti-doping statement in Guardian blog
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Wiggins makes strong anti-doping statement in Guardian blog

by VeloNation Press at 8:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
"If I felt I had to take drugs, I would rather stop tomorrow, go and ride club 10-mile time trials”

Bradley WigginsTour de France race leader Bradley Wiggins has made his clearest statement yet this year on the subject of doping, asserting that he is a clean rider via his Guardian blog and explaining why he doesn’t consider using banned substances an option.

Wiggins came under criticism for a blunt answer given last Sunday when he blasted those who questioned him via Twitter. Rather than reasserting a stance he eloquently expressed in 2007 in a frank press conference, he attacked those strongly for questioning him.

In another press conference held on Wednesday, Wiggins explained why he felt doubts about him were wrong, due to his background, but didn’t specifically state that he is a clean rider. Today’s blog gives a more complete statement on the subject, and the Briton lays out his thoughts clearly.

“There have been a couple of questions asked about doping this week and I don't feel I've been able to give a full answer. I understand why I get asked those questions given the recent history of the sport but it still annoys me,” he wrote. “It's hard to know what to say, half an hour after finishing one of the hardest races you've ridden, when you're knackered.

“The insinuations make me angry, because I thought people would look back into my history, the things I've said in the past, such as at the start of the 2006 Tour when I turned up for a first go at the race and Operación Puerto kicked off, what I said when Floyd Landis went positive, and what I said when I was chucked out with Cofidis after Cristian Moreni tested positive in 2007.”

Wiggins continued by saying that he threw his-then Cofidis team kit in a bin in Pau airport and promised never to race in those colours again. “Those things I said then stand true today. Nothing has changed. I still feel those emotions and I stand by those statements now.”

Wiggins went on to talk about his background in the sport, referring to past performances such as his fifth place in the time trial in Albi in the 2007 Tour de France. He points out that two of those who finished ahead of him, Alexandre Vinokourov and his Astana team-mate Andrey Kashechkin, were found to have been blood doping, so he states that he was effectively third.

“I had the engine already, and it showed that year when I won the prologues in the Dauphiné and the Four Days of Dunkirk. As early as 2005 I was seventh in the world time trial championships in Madrid: two of the riders in front of me, "Vino" and Kashechkin, were again, later, done for doping; a third, Rubén Plaza, was implicated in Operación Puerto. That year, I won a mountain stage in the Tour de l'Avenir.”

Wiggins explains why he speaks less on the subject than he did before. He states that it was a different era five or so years ago, and that because those who were doping were beating him while he was struggling to survive on the money he was earning, that he had a chip on his shoulder. “I wasn't shy of saying what I thought about doping because it directly affected me and the lives of my family,” he wrote.

He continues to say that he believes things have improved significantly since then, particularly due to the UCI’s biological passport, and that there is a much greater risk of being caught before. “I do believe the sport is changing, if you look at what Ryder Hesjedal did at the Giro and what Chris Froome did at the Vuelta,” he stated. “As that change has happened, my performances have gone up, and at the same time I've begun to work far harder than I did before. I'm not claiming the sport is out of the woods but doping in the sport is less of a worry to me personally, it's less at the forefront of my mind, because I'm no longer getting beaten by people who then go on and test positive or whatever.

“If there is a difference in my attitude now compared to back then, it's that I'm more focused on what I am doing, I pay less attention to what's going on outside my bubble because I'm not coming second to riders who dope.”

As race leader of the Tour de France and team leader of a squad which was set up with the stated mission of winning the Tour de France in a clean and transparent manner, Wiggins’ words are important. While some say there should not be a general suspicion in the sport, many argue that because of the scandals of the past, that it is the responsibility of the Maillot Jaune to state clearly that fans can believe in what they are seeing.

Journalist Paul Kimmage argued this point in a VeloNation interview this week, as have other writers. Wiggins has now responded by writing on the subject. The issue of Geert Leinders' role on the team will remain a point of concern, though, given that he was the doctor of Rabobank at a time when the team tolerated doping. VeloNation understands that Leinders' future with the team is being assessed. 

In Wiggins' blog, he said that he would have a huge amount to lose if he were to dope and to be caught, explaining that Britain is a country where the use of performance enhancing substances is regarded far more seriously than in many other places.

“The attitude to doping in the UK is different to in Italy or France maybe, where a rider like Richard Virenque can dope, be caught, be banned, come back and be a national hero,” he stated. “If I doped I would potentially stand to lose everything. It's a long list. My reputation, my livelihood, my marriage, my family, my house. Everything I have achieved, my Olympic medals, my world titles, the CBE I was given. I would have to take my children to the school gates in a small Lancashire village with everyone looking at me, knowing I had cheated, knowing I had, perhaps, won the Tour de France, but then been caught.”

He adds that his family would also be affected, including his wife who organises races in Lancashire, his father in law who works in British Cycling, and so too would the Sky team, Dave Brailsford and his trainer Tim Kerrison.

“That is not something I wish to live with. Doping would simply be not worth it. This is only sport we are talking about. Sport does not mean more to me than all those other things I have. Winning the Tour de France at any cost is not worth the possibility of losing all that.

“If I felt I had to take drugs, I would rather stop tomorrow, go and ride club 10-mile time trials, ride to the cafe on Sundays, and work in Tesco stacking shelves.”



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