Wiggins: I was not seeking unfair advantage

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Bradley Wiggins is adamant he was not seeking to gain an unfair advantage from being allowed to use a prohibited steroid before major races.

Wiggins, a five-time Olympic gold medallist and the 2012 Tour de France winner, is one of several athletes to have had private medical data released as part of the Russian cyber-hack on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The 'Fancy Bears' leaks revealed the Briton was granted permission to use asthma medication salbutamol from 2008, while triamcinolone acetonide was approved in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) allow athletes to use banned substances if they have a genuine medical need and there is no suggestion that Wiggins, Team Sky [who he rode for at the time] or any other athlete named in the leaks has broken any rules.

Wiggins was given permission to take triamcinolone before the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Tour de France and the 2013 Giro d'Italia, with the 36-year-old saying the use of the drug merely put him "back on a level playing field" due to his struggles with asthma.

"It was prescribed for allergies and respiratory problems. I've been a lifelong sufferer of asthma and I went to my team doctor at the time and we went, in turn, to a specialist to see if there's anything else we could do to cure these problems," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

"He said 'yep, there's something you can do but you're going to need authorisation from cycling's governing body [the UCI]'.

"You have to show and provide evidence from a specialist that they will then scrutinise with three independent doctors and authorise you to take this product. And at that point then, once I have the certificate from the World Anti-Doping Agency and the sport's governing body, only then do you take the medication.

"This was to cure a medical condition. This wasn't about trying to find a way to gain an unfair advantage.

"This was about putting myself back on a level playing field in order to compete at the highest level."

Wiggins added that his breathing had been a cause for concern before the 2012 Tour, leading to him accepting the medical advice.

"When you win the race three weeks out from the Tour de France, as I did with the [Criterium du] Dauphine, you're the favourite for the Tour," he added.

"[And] you have the medical team and coaches checking everything's okay - 'Brad, you're on track here, you're the favourite to win this race, now we need to make sure the next three weeks, is there anything we can help with at the moment?'

"[I say] 'well, I'm still struggling with this breathing, I know it didn't look like it but is there anything else you can do just to make sure this doesn't become an issue into a three-week race at the height of the season?'

"And, in turn, I took that medical advice [to take triamcinolone]."

Wiggins' use of TUEs has prompted criticism of the rider and Team Sky from certain quarters, with fellow cyclist Tom Dumoulin telling Dutch newspaper De Limburger: "This case stinks."

Team Sky had previously stated: "Applications made by Team Sky for TUEs have all been managed and recorded in line with the processes put in place by the governing bodies. Team Sky's approach to anti-doping - and our commitment to clean competition - is well known."