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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.

Andy Rihs, Swiss owner of cycling, soccer teams, dies at 75

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) Andy Rihs, a Swiss businessman who owned the BMC Racing cycling team and Young Boys soccer club, has died. He was 75.

Rihs died Wednesday in Zurich after “a patient and valiantly endured illness,” the BMC team said Thursday in a statement.

“Our grief is indescribable, but we will carry on his values,” the team said, praising Rihs for his “generosity, his sense of humor, and his infectious laugh.”

Rihs’s death comes with Young Boys close to winning its first Swiss league title in 32 years. Young Boys leads by 11 points with six matches left.

“Andy, thank you for everything. We will miss you,” Young Boys said in a statement.

Rihs’s brother, Hans-Ueli, is also an owner of the club and Stade de Suisse in Bern, known locally as Wankdorf. The stadium staged the 1954 World Cup final.

As BMC owner, Rihs secured a Tour de France title five years after his previous team was involved in a doping scandal. Cadel Evans of Australia wore BMC’s black and red colors to victory in the 2011 Tour.

In 2006, the Rihs-backed Phonak team disbanded after American rider Floyd Landis was stripped of the Tour title.

Cycling’s top riders set for Tour of California next month

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LOS ANGELES (AP) The top men’s and women’s teams will compete next month in the Amgen Tour of California, the premier U.S. cycling race.

The men will cover 645 miles over seven stages from Long Beach to Sacramento from May 13 to May 19. The women will have three of the top five teams for their three-day, 187-mile race that starts May 17 in Elk Grove.

Race owner AEG announced Thursday that Pete Sagan will ride for the BORA-hansgrohe team while Mark Cavendish will go for Team Dimension Data and be joined by Rafal Majka.

Tony Gallopin of AG2R La Mondiale is in the men’s field. So is LottoNL-Jumbo’s Nielson Powless, the race’s best young rider in 2016.

The women feature 2016 champion Megan Guarnier of USA Cycling National Team, Katie Hall of UnitedHealthcare and Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon/SCRAM.