Speaking from the Abu Dhabi Tour press event, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) told Reuters in a video interview that he believes cycling is clean in the wake of the current controversy surrounding Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs), medical exemptions for the use of banned substances granted to athletes during the competitive season. According to the Reuters report, top cyclists believe the issue has been "overblown" in the press.
Ethical questions surrounding TUEs were raised after the Russian hackers Fancy Bears hacked WADA's Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) database and released confidential medical information about Rio Olympic athletes on its website. Each athlete's file included detailed information about their TUE applications: what types of medication they were prescribed, length of prescription, expiration dates and dosages.
Some of those athletes targeted included British cyclists Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Laura Trott. Wiggins' TUEs have sparked the most controversy as he was given legal injections of the banned corticosteroid triamcinolone to treat breathing difficulties before the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and 2013 Giro d'Italia.
The UCI has stated that the athletes had done nothing wrong and applied for their medical exemptions through the appropriate methods outlined in the WADA rules handbook. However, some believe that the exemptions were handed out too easily and that the system has been historically abused by teams and athletes.
In his interview with Reuters, Cavendish suggested the matter of TUEs has been overblown in the press due to cycling's controversial past with doping. He went on to say that cycling has done more in anti-doping efforts than any other sport and deserves credit for that.
"I truly believe that cycling is clean I really do," Cavendish said. "I think that cycling has a murky past and it becomes an easy target when something comes up and I truly believe it's at the forefront of sport for anti-doping.
"Listen if you have sport, if you have entertainment, if you have business, there's going to be people who cheat and cycling was like this in the past and it's going to be an easy target now for people to comment about."
In addition, officials from UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) visited the British Manchester velodrome early in October as the anti-doping body began its investigation into multiple allegations of wrongdoing in the sport, first published in the Daily Mail.