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Team Sky rider "vehemently denies" charges and plans to fight them...

The UCI has asked British Cycling to open disciplinary proceedings against Team Sky's Jonathan Tiernan-Locke in connection with irregularities in his biological passport. A statement issued through his agent said that Tiernan-Locke "vehemently denies the charges brought against him and has informed the UCI that he fully intends to contest them."

This morning, the UCI issued a communiqué which read:

The analysis of the biological passport of Mr Jonathan Tiernan-Locke by the Experts Panel has demonstrated an anti-doping rule violation (use of prohibited substances and/or methods).

Consequently and in compliance with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the UCI has requested his National Federation to initiate disciplinary proceedings. 

UKAD and WADA have been informed of the matter pursuant to the UCI Anti-Doping Rules and the WADA code.

At this stage, the UCI will not comment further.

In September, Team Sky confirmed that the 28-year-old from Devon had been asked to account for differences in his blood values from samples taken in late 2012, a year in which he won the Tour of Britain, and those recorded after his move to the WorldTour team for 2013.

Team Sky says that it has suspended Tiernan-Locke from all of his duties with it while the case is ongoing and reiterated that the charges relate to the period before he joined it.

A statement from the team issued this morning says: "Team Sky notes that Jonathan Tiernan-Locke has been charged with a violation of the UCI anti-doping rules.

"We have been informed that he intends to defend himself against that charge.

"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.

"At this stage, we will add no further detail until this initial disciplinary process is concluded."

Tiernan-Locke first started undergoing regular blood testing following his 2012 Tour of Britain overall victory.

He was riding for Endura Racing at the time, although in September, the clothing brand that was the team's owner and sponsor claimed that for much of the year he trained under Sky's supervision prior to his move. 

Like Sky, Endura have said that differences in the rider's blood values could be down to factors such as illness or fatigue - Tiernan-Locke has struggled with both this year and has had problems adapting to the rigours of racing at WorldTour level - instead of doping.

The rider spent several years out of the sport during his early 20s as he recovered from a debilitating virus and concentrated on university, but attracted the attentopn of top-flight teams when he won early-season French races, the Tour Méditerranéen and Tour du Haut Var, in early 2012.

His late flowering prompted suspicions to be raised by French newspaper L'Equipe, which following those victories asked: “Are we in the presence of a champion or a chimera? Tiernan-Locke can only be one or the other to win five races in a row.

“He’s part of a team from the third division, a category where the riders don’t have to submit to biological monitoring, via the blood passport programme of the Union Cycliste Internationale.”

The UCI's decision to request British Cycling to open disciplinary proceedings against Tiernan-Locke will have been made by an 11-member panel of experts. The proceedings themselves will be handled by UK Anti-Doping.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

74 comments

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othello [374 posts] 2 years ago
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Well, that is a shock. I don't believe he doped, but there must be something odd in his data to suggest he did.

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GoodLegz [1 post] 2 years ago
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Even Stevie wonder saw that coming!

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Legin [98 posts] 2 years ago
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Quite correctly they have to follow process; if they didn't it would damage Cookson, the UCI and the sport.

10-1 on the sceptics won't wait for the outcome before they have a hanging party!

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PJ McNally [591 posts] 2 years ago
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Guilty until proven innocent?

Team Sky, ffs. It's one thing not to take him to any races while he's being investigated. It's another to prevent him training. If he's cleared, how is he supposed to come back?

Sky doesn't want anyone who's ever been in the same sentence as "doping". Which is a perverse attitude for a cycling team.

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gareth2510 [167 posts] 2 years ago
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My thoughts exactly PJ McNally...

For me to remove from competition until its sorted is sensible, but to remove him from off season training camps is like putting the naughty boy in class on a separate table facing the wall. Achieves nothing but create more problems than already exist.

Unless he's admitted to the SKY chiefs he's guilty, surely the innocent until proven guilty rule should be shown by his team.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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PJ McNally wrote:

Guilty until proven innocent?

Team Sky, ffs. It's one thing not to take him to any races while he's being investigated. It's another to prevent him training. If he's cleared, how is he supposed to come back?

Sky doesn't want anyone who's ever been in the same sentence as "doping". Which is a perverse attitude for a cycling team.

I'm not what you would call a fan of them but I think Sky have this right.

Why should they pay for and assist the training someone who has doped?

This isn't just a suspicion, this has gone past that stage as it has been under investigation for several months and now the authorities feel confident enough to say that he has committed a doping violation.

It's a crying shame, but unless he has a bloody good explanation I'm afraid that being chewed up and spat out is the only route for him.

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gareth2510 [167 posts] 2 years ago
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SKY statement..
quote "he will defend himself"
SKY have totally distanced themselves from him.

Great support SKY, brilliant  41

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Alb [130 posts] 2 years ago
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Reading the Sky offical comment it rather sounds like they've hung him out to dry.

"...a reading taken before he signed for this team."

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Legin [98 posts] 2 years ago
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farrell wrote:
PJ McNally wrote:

Guilty until proven innocent?

Team Sky, ffs. It's one thing not to take him to any races while he's being investigated. It's another to prevent him training. If he's cleared, how is he supposed to come back?

Sky doesn't want anyone who's ever been in the same sentence as "doping". Which is a perverse attitude for a cycling team.

I'm not what you would call a fan of them but I think Sky have this right.

Why should they pay for and assist the training someone who has doped?

This isn't just a suspicion, this has gone past that stage as it has been under investigation for several months and now the authorities feel confident enough to say that he has committed a doping violation.

It's a crying shame, but unless he has a bloody good explanation I'm afraid that being chewed up and spat out is the only route for him.

At this stage he is guilty of nothing; nice of you to jump the gun though!

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zanf [838 posts] 2 years ago
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farrell wrote:

This isn't just a suspicion, this has gone past that stage as it has been under investigation for several months and now the authorities feel confident enough to say that he has committed a doping violation.

It's a crying shame, but unless he has a bloody good explanation I'm afraid that being chewed up and spat out is the only route for him.

Its gone well past that stage. It was a while back when the UCI were asking him to explain the discrepancies in his bio passport. Obviously, his explanation has not been satisfactory so they have reached this decision.

I'm waiting for all those who were quick off the mark to call Santambrogio a drug cheat to have the same reaction to JT-L.

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crazy-legs [769 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

Great support SKY, brilliant  41

You don't know what Sky have said/done behind closed doors. He's probably on whatever the cycling equivalent of "gardening leave" is.

You can't have someone who's under investigation for malpractice still in the team - that goes for most jobs, not just cycling.

I say let due process run its course rather than start slagging off the rider/the team.

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zanf [838 posts] 2 years ago
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crazy-legs wrote:
Quote:

Great support SKY, brilliant  41

You don't know what Sky have said/done behind closed doors. He's probably on whatever the cycling equivalent of "gardening leave" is.

You can't have someone who's under investigation for malpractice still in the team - that goes for most jobs, not just cycling.

I say let due process run its course rather than start slagging off the rider/the team.

If he was a policeman who had killed someone, he would be on paid administrative leave.

Gardening leave is where you are paid to sit at home for the remaining time that your contract has to run.

JTL is being held at arms length.

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Sim1 [57 posts] 2 years ago
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crazy-legs is absolutely right. There's nothing wrong with the way Sky are handling it. He'll still be on the payroll - but he's being stood down pending British Cycling calling the disciplinary hearing, and then issuing their decision incl sanction.

Nothing wrong with that.

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Simon_MacMichael [2452 posts] 2 years ago
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Sky aren't stopping him from training, they're preventing him from going to training camps, which is a very different issue. They're far from the first team to effectively suspend a rider while disciplinary proceedings are ongoing.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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Legin wrote:

At this stage he is guilty of nothing; nice of you to jump the gun though!

Do you understand what the phrase "jumping the gun" means or have you just heard a grown up use it and decided it would be your phrase of the day?

His bio-passport showed what they tactfully called an "anomaly".

The UCI have since then spent several months analysing and studying his values.

After these studies the UCI have decided that "The analysis of the biological passport of Mr Jonathan Tiernan-Locke by the Experts Panel has demonstrated an anti-doping rule violation (use of prohibited substances and/or methods)."

The UCI are giving him a chance to explain himself because that's the way it has to go, but they are confident enough that he has doped to start disciplinary proceedings. It's a final throw of the dice for JTL and essentially an arse covering exercise for the UCI.

If they were unsure, they would have kept looking, if they had found nothing they wouldn't have started disciplinary proceedings.

This is hardly jumping the gun.

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atlaz [184 posts] 2 years ago
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Doesn't the MPCC require riders to be suspended in these situations?

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gbzpto [94 posts] 2 years ago
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atlaz wrote:

Doesn't the MPCC require riders to be suspended in these situations?

I dont think sky have signed up to this ?

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Simon_MacMichael [2452 posts] 2 years ago
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atlaz wrote:

Doesn't the MPCC require riders to be suspended in these situations?

MPCC Rule 1 states: "Provisionally suspend, since the communication of the first sample, a rider who tested positive."

There's been no positive test here, though.

Also, Sky aren't an MPCC member; only around 2 in 3 WorldTour teams are, other non-members include BMC, Cannondale, Movistar, OPQS, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek - most of what you'd call the 'big' teams, then.

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 2 years ago
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Even in law this happens, suspects are held on remand even though they are technically innocent as they have not had a trail, this is the same, Sky have suspending him until after the trial (hearing or whatever you want to call it).

Just like normal law, the evidence presented means they are are confident of a prosecution, but as we know, not everybody is guilty and some clearly get acquitted.

So right now.... he isn't guilty, however Sky have to suspend him, my company would suspend me if I did anything which impacted my job and also... they would not exactly be defending me in court, so I don't see why Sky should.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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Sky are 'devil you do - devil you dont'.
They get criticised when they let dodgy doctors in and get criticised when they come down hard at the first sniff of doping.
I feel sorry for the lad - he has been plagued with bad luck and this could be the final straw.
Not that it matters what i think but im inclined to give him the benefit of doubt - hasnt he been ill quite a lot? That could play havoc with whatever witchcraft they use to test cyclists im sure.

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Joeinpoole [439 posts] 2 years ago
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Legin wrote:

At this stage he is guilty of nothing; nice of you to jump the gun though!

Yes he is. He is guilty of having irregularities in his blood sample. It is now up to him to explain why.

It's funny how often a sudden 'late flowering' of an otherwise journeyman athlete into a champion often seems to precede positive drug tests.

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Farky [183 posts] 2 years ago
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No surprise in the UCI decision - procedure.

Sky's decision to pretty much dump the rider out in the cold stinks though!

This will not help the Anti-Doping campaign further. Their stance of ZeroTolerance is bad enough and could be argued as disrupting the campaign against doping - this decision for a rider under their employment, is counter productive to the campaign against doping.
Either they support him and help him to the end, believing they employed a clean rider...
OR they admit that they employ dirty riders and only become responsible for their past when found out.

Someone at Sky needs to swallow a bravery pill and grow some balls.

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KnightBiker [75 posts] 2 years ago
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Hmprf - the UCI has given the guy ample time to build a defense and the only thing he can come up with is I deny?
This doesn't look good on his part while for once the UCI has done the proceedings in a decent way allowing for him to come up with a good explanation, that there's no scientific defense on his side doesn't follow the trend of weak excuses though, and it doesn't bode well.

Don't trust a guy because he's relatable (which is often the case when he's from your own nationality), we have seen nice guys (and not so nice guys) do doping and get away with it.

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Legin [98 posts] 2 years ago
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farrell wrote:
Legin wrote:

At this stage he is guilty of nothing; nice of you to jump the gun though!

Do you understand what the phrase "jumping the gun" means or have you just heard a grown up use it and decided it would be your phrase of the day?

His bio-passport showed what they tactfully called an "anomaly".

The UCI have since then spent several months analysing and studying his values.

After these studies the UCI have decided that "The analysis of the biological passport of Mr Jonathan Tiernan-Locke by the Experts Panel has demonstrated an anti-doping rule violation (use of prohibited substances and/or methods)."

The UCI are giving him a chance to explain himself because that's the way it has to go, but they are confident enough that he has doped to start disciplinary proceedings. It's a final throw of the dice for JTL and essentially an arse covering exercise for the UCI.

If they were unsure, they would have kept looking, if they had found nothing they wouldn't have started disciplinary proceedings.

This is hardly jumping the gun.

Has he been found guilty or not? Let me help you; the answer is no! After the process has ended he may be found guilty and then people like you can start your pontificating. There have been instances in the past where riders have explained the circumstances and no punishment has ensued.

To assume he is guilty is jumping the gun. His guilt is a yes/no decision and that has yet to be made.

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Legin [98 posts] 2 years ago
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Joeinpoole wrote:
Legin wrote:

At this stage he is guilty of nothing; nice of you to jump the gun though!

Yes he is. He is guilty of having irregularities in his blood sample. It is now up to him to explain why.

It's funny how often a sudden 'late flowering' of an otherwise journeyman athlete into a champion often seems to precede positive drug tests.

Sloppy use of language; "he has irregularities in his blood sample" is incorrect, he has an irregular blood profile as I've understood the case; something that is very different to a failed blood test/irregularity.

Even so you'll have to explain how that makes him guilty of anything at this stage; he is only guilty, if found so, once the disciplinary process has completed.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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Legin wrote:
Joeinpoole wrote:
Legin wrote:

At this stage he is guilty of nothing; nice of you to jump the gun though!

Yes he is. He is guilty of having irregularities in his blood sample. It is now up to him to explain why.

It's funny how often a sudden 'late flowering' of an otherwise journeyman athlete into a champion often seems to precede positive drug tests.

Sloppy use of language; "he has irregularities in his blood sample" is incorrect, he has an irregular blood profile as I've understood the case; something that is very different to a failed blood test/irregularity.

Even so you'll have to explain how that makes him guilty of anything at this stage; he is only guilty, if found so, once the disciplinary process has completed.

I'll explain it for you:

"The analysis of the biological passport of Mr Jonathan Tiernan-Locke by the Experts Panel has demonstrated an anti-doping rule violation (use of prohibited substances and/or methods)."

They've tested his blood, they've got evidence of doping.

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William Black [193 posts] 2 years ago
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I was under the impression that they did one when he was in the 'little leagues' test when he was suffering from some sort of long standing viral condition and then when he made the big leagues he had another test and the two didn't match...which sort of tallies up?

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Joeinpoole [439 posts] 2 years ago
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Legin wrote:
Joeinpoole wrote:
Legin wrote:

At this stage he is guilty of nothing; nice of you to jump the gun though!

Yes he is. He is guilty of having irregularities in his blood sample. It is now up to him to explain why.

It's funny how often a sudden 'late flowering' of an otherwise journeyman athlete into a champion often seems to precede positive drug tests.

Sloppy use of language; "he has irregularities in his blood sample" is incorrect, he has an irregular blood profile as I've understood the case; something that is very different to a failed blood test/irregularity.

Even so you'll have to explain how that makes him guilty of anything at this stage; he is only guilty, if found so, once the disciplinary process has completed.

I hope JTL's defence is more impressive than your desperate clinging to straws in the use of language. Your language is equally invalid. Have you actually read the UCI's statement?

"The analysis of the biological passport of Mr Jonathan Tiernan-Locke by the Experts Panel has demonstrated an anti-doping rule violation (use of prohibited substances and/or methods)."

I don't read that JTL has "an irregular blood profile" at all. According to the UCI he has a blood profile that is entirely 'regular' ... for someone who has been doping.

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crazy-legs [769 posts] 2 years ago
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Farky wrote:

Sky's decision to pretty much dump the rider out in the cold stinks though!
...
Either they support him and help him to the end, believing they employed a clean rider...
OR they admit that they employ dirty riders and only become responsible for their past when found out.

Read what I wrote earlier - they've not "dumped him in the cold", they're simply following the procedure that most companies follow when an employee is suspected of malpractice.

He's not been found innocent or guilty. The UCI have instructed his home federation to begin disciplinary proceedings.

Quote:

Hmprf - the UCI has given the guy ample time to build a defense and the only thing he can come up with is I deny?

Neither he nor Sky have to explain anything to you, me, road.cc or anyone else other than the disciplinary commission that British Cycling pull together. "I deny it" is perfectly reasonable unless you think you're in some kind of expert position to analyse his exact explanation?

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SevenHills [205 posts] 2 years ago
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William Black wrote:

I was under the impression that they did one when he was in the 'little leagues' test when he was suffering from some sort of long standing viral condition and then when he made the big leagues he had another test and the two didn't match...which sort of tallies up?

That was my understanding as well.

However you have to think that if it was that simple we would not have gone this far and the issue would have been resolved already.

It's not looking too good for JTL methinks.  17

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