Team Sky's Jonathan Tiernan Locke gets 2 year ban for biological passport irregularities

Sacked by Sky: “This is a team that trains, races and wins clean” - Sir Dave Brailsford

by Tony Farrelly   July 17, 2014  

Tiernan-Locke ban.png

Jonathan Tiernan-Locke who signed for Team Sky after winning the 2012 Tour of Britian, has been banned from the sport until the 31st of December 2015 by the UCI for irregularities in his biological passport.

The UCI made no announcement of the sanctions taken against Tiernan-Locke as the organisation continue to follow the protocal they announced earlier this week of merely adding names to the list of banned riders on the UCI website, although they later followed that up with a statement.

Tiernan-Locke's name was added to that list earlier today at some point - we presume - and Team Sky released a statement not long after confirming Tiernan-Locke's immediate sacking. 

Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Principal of Team Sky, said: “Jonathan’s contract has been terminated today.
“Whilst there have been no doubts about his time with us, his doping violation - from readings taken before he joined this team - means there’s no place for him in Team Sky.

“We’ve a well-known stance on anti-doping and our action is the inevitable outcome of a violation.

“This is a team that trains, races and wins clean.”

Tiernan-Locke's name on the Team Sky bus at the Yorkshire Grand Depart

In their statement, Sky clarify that Tiernan-Locke’s anomoulous biological passport readings were taken in September 2012, both before he signed a two-year contract with the British team and three months before his first race in their colours.

The statement then goes on to distance the team from any wrong doing, saying that both "quantitative and qualitative" factors were properly considered, as the rider had no biological passport at that time for them to refer to.

Finally, the team affirm that they took appropriate action as soon as they were made aware of the situation. The statement can be read in full below.

"The anomalous readings in Tiernan-Locke’s Biological Passport were taken in September 2012, shortly before he signed his two-year contract with Team Sky and three months before his first race with the team.

"Prior to his signing, a number of factors – quantitative and qualitative – were properly considered. However, he had no Biological Passport to review until the spring of 2013, once the anti-doping authorities had collected the required number of readings.

"Team Sky was first aware of an issue in September 2013. Senior management immediately looked into the case and also reviewed recruitment processes. These will continue to be assessed, on an ongoing basis, with the support of the team’s Compliance Officer, appointed in the autumn.

"Jonathan Tiernan-Locke has not raced for the team since September 2013 and has not taken part in any team activities - including races, training camps and public appearances - since he was formally notified of a UCI anti-doping violation on 16 December 2013."

Subsequently, world cycling's governing body, the UCI, released a statement which read:

"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms receipt of the United Kingdom National Anti-Doping Panel’s decision on the Jonathan Tiernan-Locke case. A 2-year ban was imposed on the rider as a result of his anti-doping rule violation based on his Athlete Biological Passport. He is declared ineligible until December 31, 2015 and disqualified from the 2012 Tour of Britain and the 2012 UCI Road World Championships, competitions during which abnormalities were clearly identified. The UCI recognises the work of UKAD in providing the rider with a fair and independent hearing. At this stage, with the relevant appeal windows open, the UCI will not make any further comment on the case."

52 user comments

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When I gave blood I didn't even get a cup tea let a lone a biscuit and after there is no way I could have ridden very far at all as I felt so faint. The thought of all those needles going in where ever, doping wouldn't be for me.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [311 posts]
18th July 2014 - 7:44

31 Likes

"In September 2012, he became the first British rider since 1993 to win the Tour of Britain." ....

.... By CHEATING.

Utterly disgraceful. He won nothing. He achieved nothing because what he did was cheat his way through the sport. He should disappear from the sport and never be heard of again. Just like all the other cheaters out there, past and present.

The governing bodies have to be ruthless and excise this cancer that is cheating with surgical precision.

posted by Critchio [110 posts]
18th July 2014 - 8:55

29 Likes

Marginally off topic....

If someone dopes up to the eyeballs, taking every drug under the sun then stops in enough time to pass testing, surely they are stronger and fitter from that point forward than if they had never cheated. Or is that too simplistic?.

If that is true, shouldn't cheats be banned for life.

posted by andycoventry [120 posts]
18th July 2014 - 9:09

30 Likes

Massive shame. I wonder if this could make stepping up to the top level that bit harder i.e. Highlight a risk of acquiring riders from an untested pool?

As for Sky, they'll be pissed but I'm unsure what else they could have done. I don't think I've got to grips with the timeline yet (if he was untested before, when was a baseline established? How do you tell if the baseline is clean?) but given the risk stated above, I think sky's thinking was to get him into the testing pool ASAP in order to mitigate that risk. Or have I got this all wrong?

Given his age, I guess that's it for him now. Time to get a job.

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

posted by notfastenough [3198 posts]
18th July 2014 - 9:14

25 Likes

From what I understand - the issue is the difference in Blood values taken when he won the Tour of Britain (under his previous team) and when he joined the 'blood passport' scheme after joining Sky.
As far as I can work out, neither test (on their own) showed a doping issue - but the two tests together showed a suspicious change to the blood.
It was up to JTL to provide a valid reason for the change - but it would seem that he has not been able to do so....

Its a strange case - JTL seemed quite confidant about his defense not so long ago, so it will be interesting to see if he pops up and gives us his side of the story.

posted by Must be Mad [61 posts]
18th July 2014 - 10:08

33 Likes

Shame all round. Tiernan-Locke was an exciting rider and it seems now we know how he managed to be so. I think Sky have generally acted well in this case, although not knowing all the facts at every stage of the process it is hard to be sure exactly where the blame is (apart from the rider of course).

In any case does this explain TJ's relative lack of form while in the Sky camp? If he was doping before he joined the team, perhaps under greater scrutiny he just could not be at the same level?

posted by domofarmfrites [19 posts]
18th July 2014 - 10:14

23 Likes

Must be Mad wrote:
From what I understand - the issue is the difference in Blood values taken when he won the Tour of Britain (under his previous team) and when he joined the 'blood passport' scheme after joining Sky.
As far as I can work out, neither test (on their own) showed a doping issue - but the two tests together showed a suspicious change to the blood.
It was up to JTL to provide a valid reason for the change - but it would seem that he has not been able to do so....

Its a strange case - JTL seemed quite confidant about his defense not so long ago, so it will be interesting to see if he pops up and gives us his side of the story.

This to me is a great summary of the situation. His blood values showed a difference that is consistent to those observed following blood doping.

JTL was asked to prove that he had not been having transfusions... he was unable to put forward an argument that was convincing enough and has been sanctioned.

To me this isn't necessarily proof of doping... its a smoking gun.

I would think it would be all but impossible for someone in JTL's shoes to prove his innocence.

Just like in reality, it is impossible for the Sky boffins to go out and prove that Henoa wasn't blood doping in Columbia. They could merely replicate the same response in a supposedly controlled environment. That's all JTL could realistically do, but how was he going to do that without the backing of SKY?

Anyway, my point is, rightly or wrongly (without clear evidence to the contrary, you have to say rightly) he has been sanctioned, but for me, I'm not ready to lynch the guy.

As for his performances in 2011/12, everyone who actually knows the guy, knows he had it in him all the time. I remember a senior professional talking about JTL in 2009, saying that the guy could go as far as he wanted, he was world class material.

I'm not sure how suffering glandular fever in 2004 made him a doper either... I'll read the thread.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [285 posts]
18th July 2014 - 10:34

36 Likes

Real shame, no more said. Sad

posted by moser1984 [2 posts]
18th July 2014 - 11:04

30 Likes

TheSpaniard wrote:
It sounds like Sky are hanging him out to dry in the same way as teams have done to countless riders ever since Festina. The fact that nothing has changed in that respect makes me wonder what else hasn't changed either.

Do you expect them to stand by a rider accused of doping?
With there very vocal stance on a clean team that would be PR suicide for them.

glynr36's picture

posted by glynr36 [406 posts]
18th July 2014 - 11:11

19 Likes

stealth wrote:
How can he get busted for biological passport irregularities from a period of time during which he didn't have one. Or have I just completely mis-read that, twice.....?

I think the common view is when they he came onto a bio passport they comapred his readings with samples taken in 2012 etc.

glynr36's picture

posted by glynr36 [406 posts]
18th July 2014 - 11:13

19 Likes

Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

JTL was asked to prove that he had not been having transfusions... he was unable to put forward an argument that was convincing enough and has been sanctioned.

To me this isn't necessarily proof of doping... its a smoking gun.

I would think it would be all but impossible for someone in JTL's shoes to prove his innocence.

Just like in reality, it is impossible for the Sky boffins to go out and prove that Henoa wasn't blood doping in Columbia. They could merely replicate the same response in a supposedly controlled environment. That's all JTL could realistically do, but how was he going to do that without the backing of SKY?

I think this is what bothers me - there's an accusation, and the rider is left trying to prove a negative. How is anyone supposed to do that? If you took my blood a few times then suggested there was an anomaly, I have NO clue what I would do next.

Then again, if he was doping, then fine, he's gone. I just get the feeling that the science isn't understood sufficiently well, hence the altitude research on Henao.

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

posted by notfastenough [3198 posts]
18th July 2014 - 11:15

28 Likes

Good riddance to him i say.

Since he joined Sky, with the chance of better training and equipment to aid him, he has acheived nothing and as people have mentioned he's been under much closer scrutiny with Sky than his previous team.

Regardless of who they are or what team they ride for then if they are caught cheating then they should never ride again and be banned for life.

‘It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing.’

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2762 posts]
18th July 2014 - 11:27

19 Likes

Anyway, congratulations to Nathan Haas for "winning" the Tour of Britain 2012

Applause Applause

Him Up North's picture

posted by Him Up North [219 posts]
18th July 2014 - 11:33

29 Likes

Off-topic slightly, but check out the size of the row marked 'Armstrong, Lance' on that spreadsheet!

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

posted by notfastenough [3198 posts]
18th July 2014 - 12:29

17 Likes

Finally some people with intelligent thought that have done research (well done Jimmy Ray Will & notfastenough) it is great to see.

JTL was asked to prove his innocence, which is high impossible as he had no base level to compare to except when he was peaking in time for the ToB victory.

Hung out to dry by his pro team, when he needed their support most!

bikemadjo's picture

posted by bikemadjo [50 posts]
18th July 2014 - 13:13

29 Likes

bikemadjo wrote:
Hung out to dry by his pro team, when he needed their support most!

I can't see how Sky could have stuck with him, they are so vocally anti doping.
People have already questioned them taking on 'questionable' staff, sticking by a rider who has got slapped with a ban isn't going to wash well.

The difference in this case and Heneao one is there was a potentially logical explanation of his blood values (it's another argument if he was actually doping and the altitude was found to be an excuse to cover for it, much like Lance and the saddle sore).
JTL had nothing to offer in his case, all riders/teams etc know that a Bio Passport irregularity essentially becomes a guilty till proven innocent case, as it looks for the signs of doping, not the actual doping.

For the sport to clean up the reality is some clean riders are going to get caught out by the system for what are likely to be natural reasons.

glynr36's picture

posted by glynr36 [406 posts]
18th July 2014 - 14:16

18 Likes

Were any other teams interested in JTL?

Just thinking aloud here, but if you were a doper about to make the jump to worldtour level, would you *REALLY* think that going to somewhere like Sky or Garmin was the wisest move? I'd be more inclined to look at certain other teams.

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

posted by notfastenough [3198 posts]
18th July 2014 - 14:21

20 Likes

Where's Ricardo Ricco on that list?

posted by farrell [1457 posts]
18th July 2014 - 14:36

13 Likes

Quote:
JTL was asked to prove his innocence, which is high impossible as he had no base level to compare to except when he was peaking in time for the ToB victory.

Hung out to dry by his pro team, when he needed their support most!

Now, in the finest traditions of internet armchair opinions, I'm no expert in this... but...

In order for the ban to be lawfull (and this ban has been challenged in a law court which upheld the ban decision) - then the science of blood values, and how they can be changed must be fairly well understood. Otherwise the bans would not stand up when challenged in court.

We don't know the basis of JTL'd appeal - but he does not seem to be talking to the media, so we can only take the courts decision as correct.

posted by Must be Mad [61 posts]
18th July 2014 - 17:20

11 Likes

maybe he ate a dodgy piece of meat Wink

posted by valdestana [16 posts]
18th July 2014 - 18:42

16 Likes

The report implies that he didn't have a bio passport at that time because not enough data had been collected to build a profile but at a later date, data was collated including data from back in 2012, to form a bio passport profile. That's what I infer from the text anyway.

Andy

posted by jazzdude [60 posts]
18th July 2014 - 18:46

15 Likes

He should be made to re-pay his prize money and Sky earnings, as he got them by cheating.

posted by Kadenz [43 posts]
18th July 2014 - 19:30

24 Likes

'It's a wonder these blokes can ride at all with all the blood they're giving up. I donated blood the day before a midweek 10 once and rode two minutes slower than usual!'

have you any idea how much blood they give? Unless they're going down the blood doping route, it's an awful lot less than your blood donation was...

posted by andyp [898 posts]
18th July 2014 - 20:22

16 Likes

You're missing a trick, if you donate blood make sure you head out to the pub after.

Great fun.

posted by farrell [1457 posts]
18th July 2014 - 20:29

15 Likes

andyp wrote:
'It's a wonder these blokes can ride at all with all the blood they're giving up. I donated blood the day before a midweek 10 once and rode two minutes slower than usual!'

have you any idea how much blood they give? Unless they're going down the blood doping route, it's an awful lot less than your blood donation was...

Of course it was serious comment...
No I have no idea how much they are giving, it may be very nearly an armful (please Google "Hancock's half hour the blood donor" and learn something about humour) or it may just be a little prick Silly

posted by pwake [294 posts]
18th July 2014 - 21:10

9 Likes

farrell wrote:
You're missing a trick, if you donate blood make sure you head out to the pub after.

Great fun.

I've done that; certainly reduces the cost of getting totally wasted!

posted by pwake [294 posts]
18th July 2014 - 21:12

12 Likes

giobox wrote:
He was still doping while riding for British Cycling then, which of course back then was run by Brailsford too.

No way, Brailsford has said before that he can't cheat on a Monday and not on a Tuesday, LOL.

posted by daddyELVIS [409 posts]
19th July 2014 - 21:32

3 Likes

Critchio wrote:
"In September 2012, he became the first British rider since 1993 to win the Tour of Britain." ....

.... By CHEATING.

Stop and think about what you've written, because it hits the nail firmly on the head!

Top level pro sport and 'clean' don't go together!!

posted by daddyELVIS [409 posts]
19th July 2014 - 21:36

3 Likes

glynr36 wrote:

I can't see how Sky could have stuck with him, they are so vocally anti doping.
People have already questioned them taking on 'questionable' staff, sticking by a rider who has got slapped with a ban isn't going to wash well.

Are you talking about the same team that employs Servais Knaven as a DS?

posted by daddyELVIS [409 posts]
19th July 2014 - 21:44

4 Likes

As Andycoventry mentioned, when people dope in sport, it makes a lot of physiological changes to the body that remain for a long time after the period of doping. In studies that have appeared in new scientist, building muscle (which doping allowas you to do more easily as you train harder/faster for longer) changes the muscle tissue, and actually means that it's easier to build muscle again once this has reduced as the types of muscle fibres are different to previously. Probably means that bans should realisticly be for longer than two years (or at least never backdated) and second chances should be much more stricly enforced and final.

Former Fat Lad on a Bike

posted by RobD [114 posts]
21st July 2014 - 10:26

3 Likes