Former Team Sky rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, currently serving a two-year ban due to abnormalities in his biological passport data, insists that a test carried out two days after the one that triggered his suspension is proof that he did not use performance-enhancing drugs – but adds that UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) and experts from the UCI ignored it.
It was a sample taken from the 29-year-old on 22 September 2012 – during the week between his overall victory in the Tour of Britain, when he was riding for Endura Racing, and his debut for Great Britain at the World Championships, that led to his ban.
The full decision published by UKAD last week revealed that the Devon rider had blamed the abnormal values on his dehydration following a drinking binge in Bristol with his girlfriend on 20 September to celebrate his negotiation of a two-year contract with Team Sky.
But he says that a sample taken “at the request of Team Sky” at the Central Manchester University Hospital on 24 September – the day after the road race at the Worlds, where he was the protected British rider and finished 19th – demonstrates that he was clean, reports the Torquay Herald Express.
In its decision, UKAD acknowledged that as far as that test on 24 September was concerned, “there is no reason to question its accuracy,” although it noted that it was not carried out under the UCI’s Athlete Biological Passport programme, nor was it conducted in accordance with World Anti-Doping Agency protocols.
The rider maintains, however, that the sample showed his values returning to their normal parameters, and did not stop Team Sky from confirming his signing.
He told the newspaper: “The September 24 test was a key piece of evidence for us which was dismissed.
“That sample showed that the one test in question was just an anomaly from acute dehydration amongst other things.
“And in a doping scenario, you certainly wouldn’t have seen the values return to normal for possibly weeks, not 48 hours.”
While he has the right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the rider, who was fined £15,400, equivalent to 70 per cent of his gross income for 2012, and was also ordered to pay costs, said he cannot afford to pursue further action to try and clear his name.
He also said that he had queried with the UCI why they had not undertaken targeted testing of him following the suspicious values revealed by that 22 September test, adding that his next test came more than two months afterwards.
“The UCI had no good response, and could not explain why I was not tested in the period following the Worlds,” he said.
“We argued that, if they had done that, I would likely not be in this position.”
In the absence of a successful appeal against his ban, Tiernan-Locke will remain suspended until 31 December 2015.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.