Garmin-Barracuda rider David Millar has this morning undergone surgery after breaking his collarbone in a crash during yesterday’s E3 Harelbeke in Belgium. The Scot also broke a bone in his hand, his injuries coming around a month before a ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will determine whether he will be eligible to be selected for the Great Britain team for this summer’s Olympic Games.
The Scot, banned for two years and stripped of his world time trial championship title in 2004 after admitting doping, is not actually a party to that case, which sees the British Olympic Association defend its bylaw that prevents athletes who have served a ban for doping of six months for more from being selected to represent Great Britain in the Olympics.
The BOA is the only national Olympic committee in the world that employs such a ban, although it no longer applies to athletes banned as a result of a violation of WADA’s ‘whereabouts’ programme; in 2007, Christine Ohuruogu successfully appealed her lifetime ban form Olympic competition imposed after missing three out-of-competition drug tests, and went on to win 400m gold at Beijing the following year.
The World Anti-Doping Agency, whose athletes’ panel Millar now sits on having become a passionate campaigner against the use of drugs in sport following his ban, maintains that the BOA’s bylaw constitutes a double sanction on athletes concerned, and that it is incompatible with the World Anto-Doping Code, to which the BOA is a signatory.
Should the CAS rule against the BOA, the 35-year-old would be eligible to be selected for the Great Britain team, potentially taking part in both the road race where four riders will support Mark Cavendish’s bid for gold, most likely repeating the role of road captain that he played to great effect when the Manxman won the world championship in Copenhagen last September.
Great Britain has two places in the individual time trial, an event in which Millar won world championship silver at Geelong in 2010, followed by Commonwealth gold in Delhi a week later, and if he were able to compete, it seems probable he would be selected to race alongside last year’s world championship runner-up, Bradley Wiggins.
Speaking to road.cc before Christmas, Great Britain performance director Dave Brailsford, who was out at dinner with Millar in the Scot’s then home town of Biarritz the evening he was arrested by French police, said that British Cycling was monitoring the situation closely.
However, Millar’s injury, and the time he takes to recover from it, now introduces an added potential complication should he become eligible to compete in London.
Millar was not the only cyclist to suffer a broken bone during yesterday’s race, which was won by Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Tom Boonen in a sprint from Oscar Freire of Katusha, with Team Sky’s Bernie Eisel third.
Rabobank’s Carlos Barredo broke an arm after crashing into Fabian Cancellara as the latter waited for a wheel to be changed on his bike, Koen de Kort of 1t4i suffered cracked ribs and Cofidis rider Jan Ghyselinck, like Millar, fell victim to a broken collarbone.
In a message posted this morning on Twitter following his operation, Millar said: “Thanks to Alexander Van Tongel, a very talented surgeon, impressive man. Thank you for all the get-well msgs, they're making me feel well.”
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.