SirÂ Bradley Wiggins denies 'malicious' cheating claims
SirÂ Bradley WigginsÂ has vehemently denied cheating during his career and claimed he is the victim of a "malicious" attempt to "smear" his reputation.
Wiggins, Team Sky and Sir Dave Brailsford have been accused of "crossing an ethical line" by asking for therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for banned medication they did not really need in a report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee.
Wiggins insisted in an interview with the BBC he only used prescribed drugs for valid medical reasons and when asked if he categorically denied cheating, said: "A hundred per cent. Never, throughout my career."
Wiggins added: "This is malicious. This is someone trying to smear me. These allegations, it's the worst thing to be accused of.
"It's also the hardest thing to prove you haven't done. We're not dealing in a legal system. I'd have had more rights if I'd murdered someone."
The DCMS select committee report centred around the team's use of triamcinolone to treat Wiggins' asthma.
Triamcinolone is an anti-inflammatory steroid that can be used for medical purposes but can also help cyclists shed weight without losing power.
The DCMS report says the team crossed the ethical line by using the medication, and this was denied by Wiggins.
"No we didn't," the 37-year-old said. "Not at any time during my career did we cross the ethical line."
Wiggins insisted he had only used triamcinolone on one occasion other than the three TUEs, which had already been made public, but the DCMS report says he may have taken it nine times in four years.
"I don't know where that's come from," Wiggins said. "I really would like to know. This is an anonymous source, this is an anonymous person who has said this.
"I refute that 100 per cent. This is malicious. This is someone trying to smear me."
Wiggins said he had adhered to the rules in place at the time and had been granted permission by cycling's governing body to take the drug.
When asked if he would have won the Tour de France without it in 2012, he replied: "Well, had I had an asthma attack, no, probably not. No."
Team Sky's owners are understood to be backing Brailsford.
Sky UK declined to comment on the committee's assessment of its cycling team, but acknowledged mistakes had been made in its medical record-keeping and oversight but "strongly refuted" the report's key allegations.
The report, however, was scathing in its assessment of Brailsford's evidence to the committee in December 2016.
When asked if Brailsford was still the right man to lead the team, Wiggins said it could be time for him to step down.
"It will be a shame if he had to go when a lot of this is just, it's a report based on rumour and anonymous sources, and they've already admitted fault for those years in terms of record keeping and stuff," Wiggins said.
"I think once things are substantiated and if proven, then maybe he should go, but until that is we can't just take this report as, that's it, set in concrete."
Wiggins said he would now try to salvage his damaged legacy.
"I don't know how I'm going to pick the pieces up with the kids and stuff, and I'm left to do that as well as trying to salvage my reputation from this," he added. "I wouldn't wish it on anyone."