The sister of former Team Sky cyclist Jonathan Tiernan-Locke insist that he is not a drugs cheat, despite the 29-year-old being banned last week for two years due to irregularities in his biological passport.
The rider’s twin sister, Caroline Tiernan-Locke, says that their family has been left “devastated” by his ban and that the treatment of her brother since news broke of his ban has been “nothing short of inhumane.”
In an interview with the Plymouth Herald, she said: “Demonstrating nothing but pure talent and sheer determination, I have watched my brother, through tears, sweat and pain, sacrifice his younger years in favour of modelling his life around a gruelling training schedule to earn his place in the cycling world.
“It was no surprise to any of us to watch him succeed so greatly, and as a family we cheered on, full of admiration as he worked his way up from junior team to semi pro, to the best team in the world, gaining many incredible titles along the way.”
Tiernan-Locke was still with Endura Racing when he signed up to the UCI’s biological passport programme in late 2012 ahead of his move to Team Sky. In September of that year, he won the Tour of Britain, a title that has now been taken away from him.
“He was tested every single day at the Tour of Britain and he has never once failed a test,” his sister went on.
“He won that title and all other titles fair and square and those who know and have trained with Jonathan, will know that he is an honest, extremely hard working and incredible cyclist who has been failed by the system that he set up to protect himself.”
She added: “His hard work and reputation now lie in tatters. He is deeply saddened, angry, frustrated, helpless and feels betrayed by the media.
“Above all, he’s just a lad that has had everything he’s ever dreamed of and worked for, taken away from him in devastating fashion.
“This was his career, his hopes and dreams. This was his life.
“We have been living under a black cloud for almost a year. There seems to be no justice and no sense to all of this. It is simply not right and not fair.
"Not only has the cycling world lost a true talent but it has cast a shadow over an innocent young man’s life and has left us distraught.
"They can take away his titles but they can’t take away his talent and determination and we know that eventually, Jonathan will rebuild his life with the people that matter.”
Sky sacked Tiernan-Locke as soon as news of his ban became public, with Team Prinicpal Sir Dave Brailsford saying: “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,” he added.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.