David Millar has given his reaction to the news that the British Olympic Association (BOA) lifetime ban on convicted dopers from representing the country in the Olympics is to be challenged by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), downplaying – for now at least – any thoughts of competing at London 2012.
Great Britain is the only country that imposes such a ban. However, legal experts consider it to have been undermined by a CAS ruling last month in the case of the American athlete, LaShawn Merritt.
While that decision alone would give Millar strong grounds to challenge the BOA ban, he has said that he won’t do so, a point he repeated when talking to BBC Radio 5 Live at the weekend.
"I'd written off the Olympics a long time ago,” the 34-year-old revealed. “I didn't want to challenge the lifetime ban, there are certain fights I don't want to fight and that was one of them.
"I just don't fancy being vilified any more, it's been quite a tough few years. I'm pleased WADA are fighting it.”
The case will be heard in the new year. Should the BOA lose it, Millar, who has campaignerdagainst doping since his ban from cycling ended in 2006 and now sits on WADA’s athletes panel, would have no need to challenge the bylaw himself and would be available for selection.
If that happened, then Millar, who took time trial silver at the World Championships behind Fabian Cancellara last year as well as Commonwealth gold in Delhi, could potentially be targeting a medal in that event at London 2012.
Last week, Mark Cavendish said that he’d like to see the man who acted as road captain when he won the rainbow jersey in Copenhagen in September line up alongside him next July in the Olympic Road Race.
For now, however, the Garmin-Cervelo rider is playing down the prospect of being at the Games. "We'll see about London 2012, it's not something I've dreamt about. We'll leave it out there and see what happens."
Millar did confess, however, that he was “quite surprised” by the timing of WADA’s challenge. “I thought it was something that would happen post-Olympics. To have WADA react so quickly is quite good.”
Millar went on to explain that he believed that banning someone for life was not compatible with the concept of seeking to rehabilitate offenders.
"A first-time offence is punished with a lifetime ban, but every case must be judged on its own merits,” he explained.
"Not every single athlete should be treated the same way. Cases are so different and nothing can be judged the same way.
"There is a place for lifetime bans in sport, but I'd like to think what I've been through is a shining example of being worth a second chance.
"I push very hard now to educate people on the complexities of doping within sport. We're getting better at catching cheats, but WADA are trying to universalise the sanctioning process. Every country must act under the same umbrella," he maintained.
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.