Sky insists Tiernan Locke was clean in 2013, says he is suspended from all team activities
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sky insists Tiernan Locke was clean in 2013, says he is suspended from all team activities

by Shane Stokes at 7:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
“There are no doubts about his approach or performance in Team Sky”

Team SkyNoting that one of its current riders Jonanthan Tiernan Locke has been redflagged by the UCI and the governing body has charged him with violating its anti-doping rules, Team Sky has insisted that the period in question relates to before the Briton joined the team and that he has ridden clean since moving to the World Tour squad.

“We have been informed that he intends to defend himself against that charge,” said the team in a statement released today. “Jonathan Tiernan-Locke will not ride for Team Sky or take part in any team activities – including training camps and all team duties – until a decision is made in this disciplinary hearing process.

“We understand that the violation was highlighted by an anomaly in his Biological Passport, in a reading taken before he signed for this team. There are no doubts about his approach or performance in Team Sky. This is a team that trains, races and wins clean.”

It concluded by saying that it would make no further comment until the initial disciplinary process was concluded.

Issues with Tiernan Locke’s biological passport first surfaced in September when the Sunday Times released a story stating that the UCI’s panel of experts had identified anomalies and had started investigating the matter. Tiernan Locke had left Florence several days earlier, withdrawing from the British team before he was due to ride the Elite world road race championships.

The UCI subsequently confirmed that there were issues with Tiernan Locke’s bio passport and that its experts were in contact with the rider over the matter. He was subsequently asked to provide an explanation, and received a time extension to enable him to hand over further information.

It is understood that Tiernan Locke’s defence of blood level changes was based on claims of illness. However that was not enough to satisfy the expert panel, and the UCI has now requested that British Cycling open disciplinary proceedings against the rider.

When the Sunday Times reported that Tiernan Locke was being investigated, it stated that the suspect blood values dated back to September of last year, the same month he won the Tour of Britain and thus secured a contract with Team Sky.

He had been racing for the Continental team Endura at the time, a squad which was not part of the UCI’s biological passport.

It meant that less blood values were available for him than for riders on bigger teams. As a result it took time to build up a biological passport profile, and thus to detect the anomaly.

It is not yet clear how his blood values have changed this season but he has been far less visible in terms of results. In August he told VeloNation that he had essentially become run down due to the combination of harder races and also more intensive training.

He said that he intended backing off and returning to his previous system of training, which was based upon doing less mileage and also riding based on his sensations.

“Everything was less last year,” he said then. “I definitely trained less. I think my physiology responds to the ‘less is more’ school of training.”

The disciplinary process ordered by the UCI today will seek to determine if there was another reason for his average form this season, namely the use of banned substances or methods in 2012.

Tiernan Locke issued a statement earlier today via his agent Andrew McQuaid, insisting that he was innocent and stating that he will fight the charges against him.

Meanwhile UK Anti-Doping has acknowledged that it has received word of what it termed a possible anti-doping rule violation.

Although the UCI sent the request for disciplinary action to British Cycling, it said that the case will actually be managed by UK Anti Doping, under the anti-doping rules in force.

The UKAD’s legal director Graham Arthur said that the body couldn’t say much at present.

“We are progressing a case relating to a possible anti-doping rule violation. The matter is subject to confidentiality restrictions imposed by the Anti-Doping Rules, and as such we are unable to comment further. This protects the rights of all involved,” he said in a statement.

“All violations of the World Anti-Doping Code are published on our website if confirmed, when sanctions have been agreed and all appeal windows are over.”

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