Sir Bradley Wiggins
Sir Bradley Wiggins won the 2012 Tour de France Getty Images

Sir David Brailsford has defended Sir Bradley Wiggins over using a banned steroid before three of the major races of his career. The 36-year-old cyclist was given therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) in order to legally take the anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone, which is used as a treatment for allergies and respiratory issues, before the 2011 and 2012 Tour de France races, as well as the 2013 Giro d'Italia.

Brailsford has insisted that the 2012 Tour de France winner, who is also Britain's most decorated Olympian, did not take triamcinolone with the intention of gaining an unfair advantage on his rivals. He insisted, too, that Team Sky "do not cross the line" when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs.

"I have known Bradley a long time and he is an asthma sufferer and he has struggled with allergies for as long as I have known him," the general manager of Team Sky told the BBC. "I know that at the time there was a recommendation to see a specialist, he went to see a specialist and was then given permission by the authorities. I trust and believe in the integrity of that process."

Wiggins' use of triamcinolone came to light following a computer hack by the Fancy Bears group, which accessed the private medical data of some of the world's best-known athletes, including the likes of Venus and Serena Williams, from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

Brailsford has now claimed that he was aware at the time of what Wiggins was taking and insisted he has complete trust in Team Sky's doctors. He also said the episode has not tainted the image of Sir Bradley or Team Sky.

Wiggins' TUEs were approved by British authorities and the UCI, cycling's world governing body. There is no suggestions that Sir Bradley or Team Sky have broken any rules, either.

What are TUEs?

Under Wada rules, athletes are legally allowed to take banned substances for legitimate medical reasons. However, the drug can only be used to treat an acute or chronic problem and there cannot be any reasonable therapeutic alternative.

Wiggins was given six TUEs during the course of his career, including three injections of triamcinolone. The injections were administered before the 2011 and 2012 Tour de France races, and the 2013 Giro d'Italia, to combat Wiggins' hay-fever. He was also granted TUEs for the drugs salbutamol, formoterol and budesonide - all of which are banned - to treat asthma in 2008.