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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Bradley Wiggins has enjoyed successful 2016, highlighted by a gold-medal ride in Rio, but he has courted his fair share of controversy as well in his final season as a pro. Already under fire from some observers for receiving TUEs prior to major races, Wiggins is now facing new criticism after a report surfaced Friday night that he “missed” an anti-doping test following the Tour of California — not long before the former Tour winner himself roundly criticized compatriot Elizabeth Deignan (then Armitstead) for her own whereabouts failures.
Great Britain’s first Tour winner broke the hour record last year and returned to the team pursuit to win his fifth career gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August. He is due to stop after a final appearance on the track in the Ghent Six-Day in November.
Wiggins, according to the Daily Mail, recorded a “missed” test result because controllers ruled he provided insufficient information about where he would be per the whereabouts system protocol. He faulted the time difference and his overnight flight back from the U.S. in May.
Athletes must provide their “whereabouts,” a one-hour period each day, for out-of-competition testing. Three missed anti-doping tests in 12 months can result in a suspension.
The Londoner, who rode for Sky from 2010 to 2015 before heading up the eponymous Team Wiggins, missed other tests. The Daily Mail reported out-of-competition lapses in 2005 and 2009.
The missed test is nothing on its own, as numerous top riders, including Sky’s Chris Froome, have registered the occasional whereabouts violation without much controversy. However, it looks particularly bad for “Wiggo” considering he criticized Boels – Dolmans rider Lizzie Deignan for three missed tests and never mentioned his own.
“You get a lot of support from U.K. Sport,” Wiggins told the Guardian in September after news of Deignan’s whereabouts issues came to light. “They’re on the phone daily. They send you e-mails, reminders, they’ll put plans in place for you in terms of someone helping you with the whereabouts, so you don’t end up … well, it’s very difficult, then, to go from two to three [missed tests]. And to get three within eight or nine months, there’s no excuse.
“When you’re a professional athlete and you’re a world champion, there’s no excuse. That’s just ridiculous. So I can’t fathom how that happened.”
Wiggins has already dealt with criticism this fall in the wake of a leak of WADA documents containing records of his and other athletes’ therapeutic use exemptions. The data dump showed that he received permission for corticosteroid triamcinolone and injected it once before the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Tour de France, and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.
While there was no implication of any broken rules, Wiggins came under fire as the leak cast doubt on comments he made in his book My Time, published after his 2012 Tour win and London Olympic gold medal. He wrote that he had “never” used needles other than for vaccinations or when requiring a drip, and failed to mention his allergy problems.