Jonathan Tiernan-Locke says delay in bio passport hearing isn’t his fault

UK Anti-Doping said yesterday that next week’s scheduled hearing had been postponed “at athlete’s request”

by Simon_MacMichael   May 23, 2014  

Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (licensed on Flickr by denismenchov08 under CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, currently stood down from Team Sky’s active roster following allegations of irregularities in his biological passport, has said that a request to postpone a hearing scheduled for next week was out of his control.

The hearing had been due to be held on 27 and 28 May, but in a statement yesterday, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) said: “The hearing of the anti-doping case against Mr Jonathan Tiernan-Locke has been postponed until the summer. This is at the athlete’s request.”

However, the Devon-born rider told the Plymouth Herald that he did not ask for the postponement and that it was due to the case his lead lawyer is currently working on not yet being concluded.

“I most certainly did not ask for any such thing,” he said. “I just want this over and done with to clear my name and get my life back.

“One-hundred per cent, I never asked for a delay – for one thing I’m not allowed to – it was for reasons beyond my control.

“As I understand it, we were due to go to the hearing next week but one of my legal team is involved in another case and that has or is over-running by a couple of days.

“But that situation is enough to make it difficult to instantly set up a new hearing as both sides, witnesses and so on were affected.

“So, it was decided – not by me as the statement reads – that the hearing should be delayed.

“Believe me, no-one has more reason to get this over and done with than I do.”

Last September, Team Sky revealed that the 28-year-old had been asked to explain differences in his blood values from samples taken in late 2012, the season he won the Tour of Britain, and those taken after he joined Sky at the start of 2013.

It was after that Tour of Britain win that Tiernan-Locke, then riding for Endura Racing, first began undergoing regular blood testing. Endura insists that in the period in question he was training under Sky’s supervision before joining them.

Both Sky and Endura have said that factors other than doping could account for the variations in the rider’s blood values, such as illness or tiredness, and Tiernan-Locke is known to have had trouble adapting to a WorldTour level training regime.

Having spent several years out of the sport in his early 20s while he concentrated on his studies and recovered from a debilitating virus, Tiernan-Locke came to the notice of leading teams when he won two early season French races in 2012, the Tour Méditerranéen and Tour du Haut Var, in early 2012.

Those wins prompted French newspaper L’Équipe to ask: “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.”

Tiernan-Locke has not raced since September, when he withdrew from the Great Britain team for the road world championships in Florence after the issue of irregularities in his blood passport came to light.

He told the Plymouth Herald: “I already feel as if I’m serving a suspension, and cannot move forward with my life until this whole thing is resolved.

“I know I’m innocent of anything and have stated that all along and yet this has been hanging over me since last September and originally, I believed the hearing would take place in March.

“We’re now approaching June and there’s still no resolution to it – I just hope this delay to the hearing doesn’t drag on, for the longer it does, the longer me and my riding career are in limbo.

“I just want it settled and can assure everyone involved that the delay is not of my making,” he added.

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Don't think it really matters much now, the damage is done. Whether he is innocent or guilty I don't see him returning to a worldtour team in the near future.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1074 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 11:16

like this
Like (19)

Good luck JTL, be good to see you racing again.

posted by manox432 [8 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 11:52

like this
Like (14)

If he's done nothing wrong, you'd be mighty p*ssed off with this by now. I wonder if he's had to motivation to keep riding? Given that he's not been suspended, I guess he is still being paid by the team. Either way, it's wiped out a season for him, effectively. It's not like he got to a WT team as a youngster with another 15 years racing in him either.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3108 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 11:57

like this
Like (13)

Very sad to see this dragging on so long. Must be a nightmare for JT. I just hope justice is served in the end. Sadly even if he is cleared it's hard to see a positive outcome for his pro cycling career.

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [390 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 12:37

like this
Like (22)

The process is too slow, this is not good for anyone. I find the whole thing very strange, it doesn't add up and I think JTL is a victim.

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [296 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 14:06

like this
Like (18)

I believe he is clean. Was looking forward to seeing him race this season. The process is too slow. Although I guess getting evidence together on either side isn't a quick process. I do hope though that when he's proved to be clean. Sky do the right thing. Too quick to judge an innocent (unless proven otherwise) man. Especially some of his team "mates". Good luck JTL. Paying the price for previous generations.

posted by Redarooney [1 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 15:16

like this
Like (14)

I believe! - there exists a probability spread to his guilt or innocence. If possible a pre race test - checking that RBC and hemoglobin are within rider specific range - would be practical. for preventing EPO cheating, and would save the trauma and damage to cycling of having to disqualify winners. A rider who fails several pre ride tests will fade quietly before becoming famous. Pre 1995 cheating methods are more straightforward to deal with.

Charlie Horse

posted by ch [100 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 18:58

like this
Like (13)

The problem with this case is that it has become public. Normally these things are kept under wraps pending the outcome. As such we have no stats on what percentage of cases are upheld.

For what its worth, it should be noted that for a case to get this far three independent experts have to unanimously agree that it's “highly likely that a prohibited substance or prohibited method had been used and unlikely that it is the result of any other cause”. This seems a very high bar to me, so I'd be careful in believing he is clean just yet. inrng.com has a great writeup on the process.

posted by giobox [276 posts]
24th May 2014 - 0:05

like this
Like (23)

[quote=giobox
For what its worth, it should be noted that for a case to get this far three independent experts have to unanimously agree that it's “highly likely that a prohibited substance or prohibited method had been used and unlikely that it is the result of any other cause”. This seems a very high bar to me, so I'd be careful in believing he is clean just yet. inrng.com has a great writeup on the process.

Well said. The point with doping tests is that they have to prove categorically that the individual has doped and so when the accusation is levied in these sorts of cases the wiggle room for defendants is more to do with finding a margin for error than truly being found not guilty.

Technically speaking his representatives have called off the hearing/moved it back, so he has done this. It doesn't really change things for him though.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1120 posts]
24th May 2014 - 1:39

like this
Like (21)

I wonder if he were (enter non-British nation here) would there be so much sympathy? Though he is innocent until proven guilty, is it so hard to believe a British/Sky rider would dope or partake in an illegal training method? Besides, it is now well documented that Sky are just another player in the pill culture.

The_Vermonter's picture

posted by The_Vermonter [3 posts]
24th May 2014 - 7:15

like this
Like (14)

The_Vermonter wrote:
I wonder if he were (enter non-British nation here) would there be so much sympathy? Though he is innocent until proven guilty, is it so hard to believe a British/Sky rider would dope or partake in an illegal training method? Besides, it is now well documented that Sky are just another player in the pill culture.

I'm sure that any rider who was yet to be proved guilty would be treated sympathetically by the people who supported him or her, who are most likely from their home country.

As for Sky using Tramadol - they were using it to control pain, it's not a banned substance and does''t enhance performance. They stopped using it as it's very strong and has significant side effects, which make it unsafe to ride.

The problem with throwing mud is that some of it sticks.

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [144 posts]
24th May 2014 - 8:15

like this
Like (21)

jasecd wrote:

As for Sky using Tramadol - they were using it to control pain, it's not a banned substance and does''t enhance performance. They stopped using it as it's very strong and has significant side effects, which make it unsafe to ride.

Even the riders admit Tramadol (Alex Dowsett among others) enhances performance. Less pain = ability to push harder. Yes Tramadol has legitimate uses, but it can be abused too. This is no different from Tommy Simpson using amphetamines, or the early tour riders and alcohol.

If you are in such pain that you legitimately require such powerful pain killers, frankly you shouldn't be riding.

posted by giobox [276 posts]
25th May 2014 - 17:28

like this
Like (9)

If that is true, then why was Contador judged so harshly before his ban? You can name any number of non-British/non-Sky riders who by virtue of colour kit or nation on a passport, do not get the outpouring of support.

I sincerely hope he is exonerated. Perhaps the question that should've been asked is while Spanish, Italian, French fans and press are slated for supporting former dopers who are now clean, why is there almost the idea that it would be impossible for a British/Sky rider to dope?

Everyone wants the story of hard work and doing things the right way to be true. Much of the world was drinking the same proverbial Kool-Aid from 1999-2005. You can be a fan but still take things with a grain of salt.

The_Vermonter's picture

posted by The_Vermonter [3 posts]
25th May 2014 - 20:51

like this
Like (7)

The_Vermonter wrote:
If that is true, then why was Contador judged so harshly before his ban? You can name any number of non-British/non-Sky riders who by virtue of colour kit or nation on a passport, do not get the outpouring of support.

I sincerely hope he is exonerated. Perhaps the question that should've been asked is while Spanish, Italian, French fans and press are slated for supporting former dopers who are now clean, why is there almost the idea that it would be impossible for a British/Sky rider to dope?

Everyone wants the story of hard work and doing things the right way to be true. Much of the world was drinking the same proverbial Kool-Aid from 1999-2005. You can be a fan but still take things with a grain of salt.

I agree. It's also not just cycling. I think the wide world of sports is subject to doping. They just don't talk about it or deal with it. People want to believe what they see is authentic. But if you look at the 100m and how Ben Johnson's time has been eclipsed you have to give yourself a rye smile. The Jamaican authorities didn't do a stitch of out of competition testing and they wrap up the sprint events. Give me a break.

If you accept that Pandora's box has been opened and there's little the authorities can do about it you view things more realistically and pragmatically. Follow the sport, enjoy it for the spectacle, but don't put too much store in the athletes as heroes. They are as human as you and I.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1120 posts]
25th May 2014 - 21:53

like this
Like (2)

The question mark hanging over JTL's case which I believe makes it harder to simply lynch the guy before trial is that this isn't a failed drug test.

Its a review of blood values and expert opinion that suspects that blood manipulation has taken place.

These experts have put their hand on the table and said that JTL has a case to answer. That case has not been heard.

Which in my opinion makes it OK to sit back and wait for the result before righting the guy off.

Have the authorities got it right or wrong? I don't know... can either party prove it categorically either way, and if so what happens then?

I personally don't believe that evidence has been gathered over a long enough period for anything to ultimately stick, however the damage has already been done.

From my knowledge of JTL, I am fairly confident that he is innocent of the charges brought against him... I say fairly as ultimately JTL is the only one that really knows, and as my other half told me... if it was anyone else I'd be leading the lynch mob....

The old, if it looks like a horse, sounds like a horse and smells like a horse, chances are that its a horse.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [269 posts]
27th May 2014 - 12:53

like this
Like (2)

Oh and Tramadol... don't get me started on Tramadol.

From the conversations I am privy to, its abuse in the mid-upper circles of the UK domestic scene is ridiculous.

From what I have seen in the way of crashes and rider competences in racing, I'd suggest this is indeed the case.

The sooner the powers that be put it on the banned list the better.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [269 posts]
27th May 2014 - 12:57

like this
Like (1)