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Wiggins says he did not seek ‘unfair advantage’

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LONDON — Former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins said he needed permission to use a banned substance to treat his asthma to ensure he was “back on a level playing field.”

The British rider’s confidential medical information featured in one of the leaks resulting from an alleged Russian-led cyberattack on the World Anti-Doping Agency database. The eight-time Olympic medalist was given three injections of an anti-inflammatory drug between 2011 and 2013.

Wiggins insisted earlier this month that there was “nothing new” about his need for asthma medication but he has now given an interview to the BBC to further defend his need for a “Therapeutic Use Exemption” that allows athletes to use otherwise-banned substances because of a verified medical need.

“This was to cure a medical condition,” Wiggins said in the interview, which was broadcast Sunday. “This wasn’t about trying to find a way to gain an unfair advantage. This was about putting myself back on a level playing field in order to compete at the highest level.”

The treatment was approved by cycling authorities and there is no suggestion any rules have been broken, but the former Team Sky rider has still come under scrutiny over his use of TUEs.

“Unfortunately when you’re the best at what you do sometimes comes scrutiny,” Wiggins said, referring to his team. “Especially in a sport that has a tainted history.”

Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France in 2012 as part of Team Sky.

World champ Peter Sagan to race in Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Three-time world road race champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia has confirmed he will compete in the Tour Down Under in January, the opening World Tour event of the season.

Sagan won the world title last month for the third straight year, becoming the first cyclist to do so. He competed in the Tour Down Under for the first time last year, finishing second on three stages behind Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan.

Sagan, who rides for the BORA-hansgrohe team, said the six-stage Tour Down Under is “the perfect start to the UCI World Tour season each year … a challenging and tough course, warm weather and the passionate fans that cheer for us day in day out no matter what.”

Former Olympic cycling champ fired after positive drug test

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) Former Olympic road cycling champion Samuel Sanchez, who returned a positive doping test in August, had his B-sample confirmed Wednesday and was promptly fired by the BMC Racing Team.

Sanchez’s out-of-competition test revealed growth hormone-releasing peptide 2, or GHRP-2, a drug that increases a body’s level of growth hormone. Several cyclists have tested positive for the drug, among them Italian rider Stefano Pirazzi, who was given a four-year ban earlier this week.

The U.S.-based BMC Team said in a statement Wednesday that it was adhering to its zero-tolerance policy toward doping by terminating the Spaniard’s contract “with immediate effect.”

The 39-year-old Sanchez, who had been provisionally suspended, won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.