David Millar: “I'd written off the Olympics a long time ago”
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

David Millar: “I'd written off the Olympics a long time ago”

by Ben Atkins at 5:59 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping, Olympics
Still does not expect to be allowed to race in London despite mounting pressure on the BOA

david millarDespite mounting pressure on the British Olympic Association (BOA) to reverse its life ban for any athlete that has tested positive, David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) has once again stated that he doesn’t expect to be allowed to race in London next summer. In an interview with the BBC the 34-year-old, who served a two year ban between 2004 and 2006 after confessing EPO use, did say that the BOA by-law was unfair though as it gave athletes no chance of rehabilitation.

Yesterday, in a column for the Guardian, former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chief Dick Pound added his voice to those calling for the BOA to abolish its rule. Despite admiring the principle behind the by-law, Pound, who was an outspoken critic of cycling’s doping culture during his time at the head of WADA, said that it was contrary to the WADA code, which the BOA has signed up to.

Millar’s ban ended the week before the 2006 Tour de France, which he rode with new team Saunier Duval-Prodir; he has since become one of the most outspoken anti-dopers in the sport, but still may not represent his country in the Olympic Games. This said Pound – without specifically mentioning Millar himself – amounts to “an additional penalty for the doped athlete, over and above the code sanction. This conflicts with the provisions of the code, to which the BOA is a signatory.”

Millar himself agrees with Pound’s sentiments, although – despite the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) ruling against the BOA rule last month – does not expect to ride in the London 2012 games.

"In all honesty, I'd written off the Olympics a long time ago," he said, expressing surprise at the speed that the battle between WADA and the BOA had come to a head.

"I though it would be something that would more likely happen in the future,” he said. “Maybe even post-Olympics, so to have WADA react so quickly is quite good."

The life ban, he said, also closed the door on athletes that genuinely wanted to rehabilitate, just as he has done in the cycling community.

"There's a place for lifetime bans in sport,” he said, “but I'd like to think that what I've been through is a shining example of the worth of second chances.”

Not everybody is deserving of a second chance, he conceded, but listed some examples of what many see as the different sides of doping in sports.

"Every case needs to be judged on its own merits,” he explained. “I don't think every athlete should be treated the same way.

"Imagine you have a 16-year-old who's been given something by their coach and goes positive and receives a lifetime ban, that doesn't seem fair.

"But maybe, if you have a 34-year-old multi-millionaire who lives in Monte Carlo, with a team of medical staff, who goes positive, maybe they should get a lifetime ban for a first offence.

"But those two cases are so different that they can't be judged the same," he said.

Another problem that Millar sees with the BOA by-law is that it opens the door for national federations to apply their own sentences without challenge, even though their sport is acting under the umbrella of the WADA code.

"If we have individual countries having their own rules in place - and it's understandable that people feel very strongly about these rules - every country has to be under the same umbrella, if you like," he said.

"If the UK has the choice of having a lifetime ban for the Olympics, why can't another country just punish six months?"

Should WADA successfully overturn the BOA rule, Millar would likely be a shoo-in to the Great Britain team for the Olympic road race. The Scot took on the role of road captain in the recent World championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the team delivered Mark Cavendish to victory. His seventh place in the time trial, as well as his Commonwealth title and two Worlds silvers, would also likely see him take one of his country’s two places against the clock as well.


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