Actualité du dopage

Greg Henderson questions ethics of his former outfit, Team Sky

11/03/2018 - - David Long

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Former Team Sky rider Greg Henderson has called for a review of how therapeutic use exemptions are given out as his former team is plunged into another crisis.

Last week a British parliamentary inquiry concluded that Sir Bradley Wiggins had used performance-enhancing drugs under the guise of treating a legitimate medical condition in order to win the 2012 Tour de France.

The team is also trying to defend Chris Froome, who returned an adverse analytical finding for salbutamol during last year's Vuelta a Espana.

The Dunedin-born Henderson holds a special place in the history of Team Sky, giving them their first race win in Adelaide in 2010.

He was with the team for two years before moving on and is currently the performance director for US Cycling.

Henderson is concerned over how his old team has operated outside the ethical boundaries of cycling.

"This is obviously my own personal opinion, but the drug they're talking about, this corticosteroid it's a very powerful drug.

"If you need a corticosteroid to ride your bike, then you should be taking time off your bike and resting, you should probably be in bed.

"By the letter of the law they haven't broken any rules, because it's out of competition and legal to take for injury or whatever, but to have that in your system during a race you need a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) and they've gained one of these."

TUEs allow an athlete to take a prohibited medication to treat an acute or chronic medical condition, but it is the subject of conjecture over whether they are actually needed.

Wiggins had TUEs shortly before the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.

"One of the doctors has said Brad has allergies and needs this drug in order to bring him back to a level playing field," Henderson said.

"It's up for debate, did that bring him up to a level playing field or above it?

"By the letter of the law, he's not broken any rules, but clearly these rules need to be revisited because they're being abused.

"What I can't understand is that Chris Froome has tested higher for salbutamol than any guy we've ever heard of and all the others received bans.

"They're talking Chris Froome not getting a ban and that doesn't make any sense to me."

One of the reasons why Henderson signed with Team Sky in 2010 was because of their strong anti-doping policy.

"That was the thing, there were be barely cough mixture or medication for colds given out," Henderson said.

"It was like racing on the New Zealand team, they had the same ethics, or that's what I thought.

"We all had the same mindset, it was, race hard and do it clean.

"The thought of going positive in countries like New Zealand, Australia or Britain, it ruins not only you for life, but your family for life.

"I still believe it is the same mentality, but then it looks like they're really touching on that grey area.

"They can argue until they're blue in the face that they haven't broken any rules, but it's about whether people think it's 100 per cent ethical or not."

Henderson was a professional for 16 years and said he never witnessed the misuse of TUEs in any of the teams he was in, but did see the system being abused by others.

"In teams I raced against there would certainly be the magical sore knee," he said.

"There used to be a rule where you could get a TUE, use this corticosteroid steroid, or whichever one they were using, then race again in eight days.

"So you'd get these guys who would magically disappear from a race on the last day with a sore knee, then turn up to a classic eight days later and tear your legs off. That happened so often."

According to the UCI website that rule still applies for glucocorticoids, which are a class of corticosteroids.

With Team Sky's reputation so badly tarnished, the future of their principal Sir Dave Brailsford and indeed the survival of the team is in question and it will be hard for them to recover from this crisis.

"When a team folds, it's not just 27 bike riders looking for a new job, it's 50-60 staff looking for new jobs as well," Henderson said.

"If they can prove themselves and the UCI accepts the legitimate reason, then absolutely Team Sky, go ahead, you're incredible, but if it's frowned upon and it does look dodgy and things aren't being played the way they should be, then I don't think there's room for teams like that."


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