Canadian Michael Barry, who rode for Team Sky until his retirement in 2012, revealed he used the powerful, yet legal, drug, which has potentially addictive side-effects, while racing for the British team.
Team Sky, which has won the last two Tours de France through Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, insists it no longer uses the substance and called for Tramadol to be outlawed so its use can be regulated using therapeutic use exemption certificates (TUEs).
A Team Sky spokesperson said: “None of our riders should ride whilst using Tramadol — that’s the policy of this team.
“Team Sky do not give it to riders whilst racing or training, either as a preemptive measure or to manage existing pain.
“We believe that its side effects, such as dizziness and drowsiness, could cause issues for the safety of all riders.
“We also feel that if a rider has the level of severe pain for its appropriate use, they should not be riding.
“Tramadol is not prohibited by WADA, but this has been our firm position for the last two seasons and all medical staff and riders are aware of this.
“Our view is that it should be on the WADA list and any appropriate clinical use could be managed through the regulated TUE, or Therapeutic Use Exemption, system.”
Barry was a witness in the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation into the US Postal Service team which resulted in Armstrong’s downfall and confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs at the end of his career.
He used Tramadol to treat legitimate complaints, although became concerned when researching the drug on the internet.
Barry said: “I had nagging injuries throughout my career and I used it when I was injured and racing injured, but I also realised the side-effects of it.
“It was a lot stronger than I thought and is potentially addictive.”
Barry is concerned that there is a desire to push sporting boundaries and that leads, for example, to the use of cortisone injections to numb pain or athletes playing on despite head injuries in a range of sports, not just cycling.
“There are drugs that are used that would never be given out if that rider walked into a clinic and asked a doctor for them,” Barry added.
“In a sporting environment, everybody’s paycheck is reliant on that rider’s performance. Everybody involved is biased and the rider’s health is secondary to their performance.
“Athletes are very much commodities. It’s not something unique to cycling; it’s something you see in American football, hockey, gymnastics.”
WADA said Tramadol was included on the 2014 “monitoring programme’ for “possible in-competition abuse’ and that its status is being reviewed.
“The draft 2015 Prohibited List will be approved by the executive committee in September,” WADA said
“The World Anti-Doping code stipulates that a substance or method can be considered for inclusion on the WADA prohibited list (which is reviewed every year) if it is determined that it meets two of the following three criteria: it has the potential to enhance sport performance; it represents a health risk to the athletes; and it violates the spirit of sport.”