The Mercury

Froome emerges from hack smelling sweet


LONDON: Chris Froome’s credibilit­y as triple Tour de France champion has only been boosted by the hacking of his private medical informatio­n, according to a South African physiologi­st who carried out tests on the Briton last year.

Jeroen Swart, in an interview with the Cycling Tips website, suggested, however, that other data published by alleged Russian cyber hackers had weakened Team Sky’s image as “squeaky clean, cleaner than the rest”.

A group, identified as APT28 and Fancy Bear by US cyber-security researcher­s, last week revealed Therapeuti­c Use Exemptions (TUEs) for Froome and 2012 Tour winner Bradley Wiggins.

Froome’s informatio­n was already known.

“It seems Chris has been completely transparen­t and open about his TUEs and the documents back that,” said Swart, who worked with Froome after the rider decided to answer critics and undergo physiologi­cal tests. “There was nothing hidden or untowards from Chris’s side.

“I think it was (Sunday Times journalist) David Walsh who wrote that Chris had been offered a TUE for cortisone in 2015 when in the last week of the Tour he was starting to develop a chest infection or an asthma exacerbati­on, and declined. He rode on without one.

“Based on that perspectiv­e, he actually comes out looking all the better after this. It is really Wiggins and the team who are having a negative light cast on them. From Chris’s side, it is actually quite positive.”

Wiggins, the first British rider to win the Tour and his country’s most decorated Olympian after last month’s Rio Games, took his tally to eight medals, and is facing questions about his use of allergy injections that emerged in the leak.

While there was no suggestion of wrongdoing, the injections of triamcinol­one to treat an asthma problem appeared to undermine Wiggins’s previous claims that he had adhered to cycling’s “no needles” policy.

In his 2012 autobiogra­phy, Wiggins wrote: “I’ve never had an injection, apart from vaccinatio­ns, and on occasion I’ve been put on a drip.”

A spokesman for Wiggins said the injection referred to in the leaked informatio­n was an intramuscu­lar treatment for asthma that had been fully approved by the sport’s governing bodies. He said the rider stood by his comment concerning the use of illegal intravenou­s needle injections.

Swart said the injections still left questions to be answered, particular­ly when there were other options such as corticoste­roid.

“You could shove bucketload­s up your nose and down your throat and inhale it, and you wouldn’t be doing anything that would end up with systemic effects,” he said.

“And you would be avoiding the interpreta­tion that there is a performanc­e-enhancing effect. From that perspectiv­e it doesn’t look good.”

Olympic champions Mo Farah, Rafael Nadal and Justin Rose were among athletes targeted yesterday in the latest leak of confidenti­al medical documents. Other high-profile names included Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, British cyclist Callum Skinner and double Olympic rowing gold medallist Helen Glover.

Britain’s Farah became only the second man to retain the 5 000 and 10 000 metres Olympic titles at the Rio de Janeiro Games last month.

TUEs allow athletes to take banned substances for verified medical needs and there is no suggestion any of those named have broken rules. – Reuters

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