Mark Cavendish has said that he wants a "redeemed" David Millar to line up alongside him on The Mall at the start of next summer’s Olympic road race as the world champion seeks to win the first gold medal to be decided at London 2012.
Millar, aged 34, has a lifetime ban from competing for Great Britain in the Olympics as a result of the two-year ban he served for doping between 2004 and 2006.
However, as previously reported here on road.cc, the validity of the British Olympic Association (BOA) bylaw that established that rule has been thrown into doubt by a ruling last month at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Millar has said that he won’t personally fight the ban.
Now, however, the BOA and the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) are set to clash at the CAS in the new year, with the latter arguing that the bylaw infringes the World Anti-doping Code because, together with the initial ban for doping, it punishes an athlete twice for the same offence.
Should the BOA lose and the bylaw be scrapped, there would be no impediment to Millar being selected for Great Britain next year.
Two months ago, in Copenhagen, the Garmin-Cervelo rider acted as road captain to the eight-man British team in the world championship road race, co-ordinating a race plan that helped ensure it came down to a sprint.
Cavendish found a way through the traffic to become only the second British man after Tom Simpson in 1965 to win the rainbow jersey, and now he wants Millar to be in the five-man squad for the Olympics.
"Dave is redeemed," Cavendish told The Times in an interview published today. "He's on the athletes' committee with WADA. How many other athletes have done that? That shows how big he is on the side of anti-doping.”
As part of his current role in the fight against drugs, Millar was due to give a keynote address this afternoon at UKSEM in London, described by organisers as ‘Europe’s largest interdisciplinary Conference on Sports Science, Medicine, Conditioning, Rehabilitation and Performance Coaching.’
"It's not for me to sit in judgment on the [BOA] ruling,” continued Cavendish. “That's for other people. I've just talked to Dave a lot about his past, not just the drugs. He's very honest and open. As a professional rider and as a good friend, I would like Dave to be on the start line of the Olympics.
"As road captain at the World Championship, Dave made a massive difference to us. He's so good at bike racing. He had a great leadership role at the World Championships. It would be great to see him at the Olympics," he added.
Cavendish is set to join Team Sky for 2012 following the demise of the HTC-Highroad team with which he won 20 Tour de France stages as well as the green points jersey in this year’s race.
Having won on the Champs-Elysées in July year for an unprecedented third year in a row, he fully intends going all the way to a Sunday finish in Paris again despite the Tour ending less than a week before the Olympic road race which is on Saturday 28 July.
“I am definitely planning to ride the whole tour,” he said. “The last week is not too hard and I should be able to taper down to keep my fitness. I have been working with Rod [Ellingworth, his coach and, with British Cycling, the mastermind of the Copenhagen triumph] since I was 18 and we know what’s good for me and my body.”
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.