There may be question marks over leadership and collaboration in the German camp ahead of Sunday's World Championships men's road race, but Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel came together to deliver a scathing assessment of Bradley Wiggins' use of triamcinolone acetonide under Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs).
Speaking at Germany's pre-race press conference on Thursday evening, both sprinters discussed the vexed issue of leadership before suggesting that Wiggins, who says he needed the powerful corticosteroid to treat asthma and allergy issues, should not have been racing if he was so ill.
Kittel went as far as suggesting that someone with Wiggins' ailments should be competing in para-sport.
"If someone has severe asthma, then he has no place in performance sport," German media reported Kittel as saying.
"We introduced the Paralympics because we want to give people with one leg a chance to compete against others," he added.
It was revealed last month that Wiggins received injections of triamcinolone on three occasions, ahead of the 2011 Tour de France, the 2012 Tour de France – which he won – and the 2013 Giro d'Italia. No anti-doping rules were broken because the UCI approved the TUE but the issue has sparked controversy on ethical grounds, with a widespread belief that the TUE system creates a grey area whereby athletes can avail of performance enhancing drugs on dubious medical grounds.
Greipel was not quite as blunt as Kittel in his assessment, but agreed that Wiggins should not have been racing if he was ill enough to require such treatment. He also criticised Team Sky – Wiggins' team at the time of all three injections.
"If you're sick, you don't ride," said the German champion. "For that reason we're in the MPCC (movement for clean cycling). Now we know why Sky was not."
The Germans didn't all gang up on Wiggins, however, with John Degenkolb, their wildcard for Sunday's race, defending the TUE system and saying it is appropriate "if someone has real problems".
Kittel, Greipel and Degenkolb all confirmed they have never availed of a TUE in their careers.
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