THE fall-out from the report released earlier this week by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee is likely to continue for quite some time.

Bradley Wiggins’ reputation is in tatters and he admits himself he doesn’t know how he’ll begin to pick up the pieces. And the question of whether Sir Dave Brailsford will hang onto his job remains unanswered and almost it’s impossible to predict the outcome.

Wiggins was accused of “crossing an ethical line” with his use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs), taking the corticosteroid Triamcinolone while with Team Sky to boost his performance.

First things first - Wiggins has not done anything illegal. In having a TUE, taking Triamcinolone was entirely legitimate. But the issue of whether he was taking it for genuine medical reasons or whether he was bending the rules in order to enhance his performance was answered in the report released by DCSM; the former Tour de France winner was deemed to be using drugs allowed under anti-doping rules to enhance performance instead of just for medical purposes.

Wigging completely refuted the suggestion that he had cheated or even crossed an ethical line but the DCMS report’s findings raise a wider issue about TUEs in general. There is little doubt that if there is any slack in the system, elite athletes, or some of them at least, will push the boundaries as far as they possibly can.

TUEs are an entirely legitimate tool for an athlete to use - they were introduced to ensure that any athletes who were suffering from a medical condition - asthma is a common case - would not be at a disadvantage just because they had the misfortune to suffer from particular conditions.

This is entirely fair - but as with so many things, a legitimate rule has been proven to be abused. If the DCMS report is accurate, Wiggins was benefitting from a drug that he had no right to be taking. If this is true, it seems unlikely to say the least that Wiggins is the only athlete who is taking advantage of this rule.

So what is the solution? Geraint Thomas, who was a teammate of Wiggins at British Cycling and Team Sky, suggested yesterday that the best way forward was to scrap TUEs entirely. “If someone’s had a TUE, it’s the opposite of doping. They’ve had the go-ahead from the powers that be to use that substance,” he told the BBC.

“But this is what’s bringing up the whole ethical debate, so in my eyes it would just be easier to get rid of them. It would get rid of the grey area. Maybe people will disagree with that but, in my eyes, if you suffer so severely from asthma or allergies that over the counter medications, or medications that don’t require TUEs can’t control, it’s unfortunate but maybe your body isn’t built for the rigours of professional sport. It might be unfair, but at the moment that’s the only way I can see things becoming a bit more black and white.”

It is quite a statement but I tend to agree with him. Scrapping TUEs entirely is certainly draconian but it seems that things have gone too far for there to be any other feasible solution.

The idea of TUEs was that medical staff would not administer anything to an athlete that was not strictly medically required but we all know that there’s too much at stake these days to expect there not to be pressure on every member of the team to bend the rules. Many medical staff will not succumb to this pressure but some will. And when this info comes into the public domain, it only serves to further erode the rapidly diminishing trust in elite sport.

Scrapping TUEs is not an ideal solution - I never had a TUE during my career but I know I would have felt severely hard done by if I had legitimately needed one but was not allowed. But continuing with a system that has grey areas and is open to abuse is not sustainable.

Rarely do I watch elite sport nowadays and don’t have suspicions about doping. There will be many others like me. This situation is almost certainly never going to be fully repaired, but if any progress is to be made, rules need to be tightened up to such an extent that there is no leeway. That may be harsh, but I see no other way forward.