Cycling

Team Sky have achieved incredible success in their relatively short history.

Team Sky tested the effects of Viagra on performance while at altitude training camp

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Since their foundation in 2009, Team Sky have been leaders in the world of cycling.

With high-class performers such as Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome among their ranks, they have clinched a stunning four Tour de France titles.

Under the leadership of former performance director of British Cycling, Dave Brailsford, the organisation has always sought to stay one step ahead of their competitors.

Now, Sportsmail exclusively reveals that shortly after the British team were formed, Viagra pills were tested at a training camp as a legal way to enhance performance.

It has emerged that at least one Team Sky cyclist was prescribed the drug by their GP and a British Cycling staff member was also prescribed the drug by a team doctor.

The ability of viagra pills to overcome impotency has been well documented for some time, but there have been arguments that it could have positive effects on performance in competition.

“The effect of Viagra is to open up the blood vessels so the blood will flow better and oxygen will move to the cells more quickly,” said former head of Drug-free Sport and founding director of Sporting Integrity, Michele Verroken.

With the potential of such a process to enhance endurance in particular, Team Sky were open to pursuing the use of the drug for their cyclists.

2015 Paris - Roubaix

Importantly, while there have been several campaigns to prohibit its use by athletes, the drug is not on the World Anti-Doping Agency banned list and, therefore, there is no prospect of the team or individual athletes facing sanctions over its use.

Several years ago, anti-doping expert Don Catlin, raised concerns over the unfair advantages that viagra may have in sport, as well as the dangers of consistent usage of the drug:

"I thought there was some reason to be concerned about it and to put it on the (banned) list," said the American.

CYCLING-AUS

"There are credible scientific reports to show it is performance-enhancing in some circumstances, so I think it should be banned."

"There are also side-effects for people who don't have a legitimate medical need, so it's not a good idea for cyclists to try it without doing a study on it beforehand.'

After some deliberation, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decided against adding Viagra to their list of banned substances in 2008, and there is significant precedent for its use in athletics as well as cycling.

22nd European Athletics Championships - Day Two

Olympic sprinters such as Marion Jones and Dwain Chambers were supplied with various substances by Victor Conte’s Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative and Conte admitted that use of Viagra was part of his programme.

“We used to call it Vitamin V…I think it definitely has performance enhancing benefits. It relaxes the walls of your cardiovascular system and improves blood flow.”

More specifically within cycling, Andrea Moletta was suspended after syringes and 82 Viagra pills were found in his car at the 2008 Giro d’Italia.

CYCLING-AUS

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, British Cycling and Team Sky declined Sportsmails requests for comment.

While technically Team Sky did not break any rules while trialling the drug, these revelations go a way to showing the true lengths that the British organisation were willing to go to achieve success in their earliest days.

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Topics:
Tour De France
Cycling
Sir Bradley Wiggins
Giro d'Italia

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