Sir Bradley Wiggins' wife Cath Wiggins has called Chris Froome a "slithering reptile" and wondered whether her husband might have been "thrown under the bus" by Team Sky to cover for his old teammate.
Froome, the four-time Tour de France winner, was this week revealed to have returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for salbutamol during the Vuelta a Espana.
The revelation reopened wounds from an old feud between Froome and Wiggins. In a hastily deleted post on her Facebook page, which was put out on Twitter for public consumption by a third party, Cath Wiggins wrote that she felt "sick" after learning of Froome's AAF. "If I was given to conspiracy theory I'd allege they'd thrown my boy under the bus on purpose to cover for this slithering reptile," she said.
Froome insists he did not take more than the permitted dosage of salbutamol, the anti-asthma medication, during this year's Vuelta and must now prove that in separate tests. He went on to win the race.
Wiggins' reputation was badly damaged last year after it emerged that he had received legal injections for Kenacort — a corticosteroid — before three of the biggest races of his career, including the 2012 Tour de France, which he won.
Wiggins and Sky were accused of "gaming the Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) system" although they were adamant the injections were to treat allergies. They were also the subject of a UK Anti-Doping investigation into a medical package delivered to him at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine. Froome was outspoken regarding Wiggins' TUEs, suggesting he was uncomfortable with what his former teammate had done and saying he did not believe in a "win at all costs" approach.
"It is clear the TUE system is open to abuse and I believe this is something the UCI and Wada need to urgently address," Froome said.
After the news of Froome's failed test, Cath Wiggins posted her "slithering reptile" message to Facebook before swiftly deleting it. She apologised via a new Facebook post: "Sorry everyone for my emotional comments and insults. Too much stress got the better of me. Heat of the moment thing and certainly not my intent to fan the flames."
Cath Wiggins has form when it comes to social-media barbs. She and Froome's now wife Michelle engaged in heated Twitter exchanges during the 2012 Tour when Wiggins felt that his teammate was disloyal.
Star likely facing ban ex chief
Pat McQuaid, the former president of cycling's ruling body UCI, predicted it would be "very hard" for Chris Froome to avoid a ban for his adverse salbutamol test.
McQuaid told the BBC that Froome's test result was "a huge shock ... troubling and worrying", that it would be "very hard to avoid a ban" and said it was difficult to see how Team Sky could come out of this latest controversy with "any credibility at all".
The Irishman said: "We're now three months down the road, and they haven't found a solution or a resolution to it yet.
"[Sky] have had a very difficult 15 months when they set out to be the team that is the clean team, that was going to bring back the credibility of cycling and they have certainly gone in the opposite direction this year. It's going to be very difficult to see how they can come out of this with any credibility at all to be honest."