British Olympic Association 'resigned' to losing lifetime ban case; decision due next week

Ruling against BoA would leave David Millar free to compete in London this summer - if he wished to be selected

by Simon_MacMichael   April 20, 2012  

David Millar MSR 2012 © Simon MacMichael

The British Olympic Association (BOA) has reportedly resigned itself to losing the battle to keep its lifetime ban for athletes who have served a doping ban of six months or more, reports the Guardian, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) expected to issue its ruling in the case next week. Should the ban be ruled invalid, Garmin-Barracuda’s David Millar would be free to compete in this summer’s Olympic Games, although whether he would make himself available for selection remains to be seen.

The newspaper reports that senior personnel at the BOA have admitted privately that the CAS is likely to rule that its Bylaw 25, which the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has described as non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code to which the BOA is a signatory, is invalid and unenforceable. The BOA maintains that its ban reflects a selection policy, while WADA maintains that it constitutes a second sanction stemming from a single offence.

BOA chief executive Andy Hunt has told the newspaper in recent days that if it were to lose the case, then Millar and sprinter Dwayne Chambers, also banned for two years in 2004, would be welcome to compete in London this summer.

"If we were to lose, we will absolutely embrace any athletes that are able to compete as a result of the bylaw potentially falling away," he confirmed. "We will set the tone. I hope that by setting the leadership tone in that way it will be reflected by the team."

However, as reported on road.cc last month, Millar has told BBC Radio Scotland that he was in two minds about whether he would wish to take part in the Olympics if the BOA’s bylaw 25 were overturned, conscious that his past doping history might see him viewed as the “black sheep” of Team GB.

Mark Cavendish has said that he would like to see Millar, who acted as road captain to the British team as it helped the Manxman to win the world championship in Copenhagen last September, line up alongside him for the road race in London. 

Millar, stripped of his 2003 world title in the time trial after confessing to EPO use the following year, and runner-up to Fabian Cancellara in that event at Geelong in 2010, would also be likely to secure the second British place in that discipline at the Olympics, alongside Bradley Wiggins, if he were to compete.

Last year, sports law experts called into question the legality of the BOA’s lifetime ban following a separate CAS ruling which held that an International Olympic Committee rule introduced in 2008 that sought to prevent athletes who had received a doping ban of six months or more from competing in the Olympic Games following the expiry of their ban was unenforceable.

The Guardian added that a spokesman for the BOA told it yesterday: "We have not yet seen the decision from Cas, although we do expect to receive it next week."

17 user comments

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let him ride, hes good! and clearly clean. if it happens a second time then its a no go, but how much of these dopers is rider choice or team pressure

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
20th April 2012 - 8:09

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This rider is a hypocrite and should have been banned for life when he was caught CHEATING. Badly handled case.

posted by Karbon Kev [667 posts]
20th April 2012 - 8:36

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Please expand on your "hypocrite" comment Kev.

posted by Sven Nijs [20 posts]
20th April 2012 - 9:43

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I don't think he's a hypocrite, he's acknowledged the bad decisions and cheating in the past, and I believe him when he says he's a different person now. That UK Sport elected him to the WADA Athletes Committee (on behalf of all UK Sport, not just cycling) says a lot about his anti-doping work, as does the fact that he is part-owner of a notably 'clean' team, backed up by pro-active blood monitoring (think they were the first team to do this).

Dave the Brave indeed, good luck fella.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2957 posts]
20th April 2012 - 9:51

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He's basically a hypocrite because last year and the year befor that, he came out and publically vilified doping, all 'holier than thou', brought his book out and 'ooh look at me I have changed' hang on Mr Millar, you cheated because you thought you could beat the system.

Being a pro rider should be seen as an honour and a privelige, especially when riding for your country in the olympics. There's so many more up and coming pro riders in the UK that will work hard in order to achieve their dreams WITHOUT doping.

He may be a 'different person' but that doesn't change the fact that he was arrogant enough to try and cheat the system in the first place. That's why imo his original fine and ban wasn't hard enough. And that's why he's a hypocrite.

posted by Karbon Kev [667 posts]
20th April 2012 - 10:49

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Karbon Kev wrote:
This rider is a hypocrite and should have been banned for life when he was caught CHEATING. Badly handled case.

I can't see how Millar's was a badly handled case. He confessed to doping, was banned, served his ban and then worked hard for the anti-doping lobby. All dealt with in accordance with the rules in a pretty clear-cut way, and he reformed and saw the error of his ways.

If you think all dopers should be banned for life, fair enough - but that argument isn't about a badly handled case, its about a flawed system. For the record, I'm not sure I have a strong preference either way - I'd probably support lifetime bans, but what gets me is the guys who serve a ban but never admit what they did or apologise, and then come back in as if nothing has happened. Millar certainly doesn't fall in to that category...

posted by step-hent [652 posts]
20th April 2012 - 10:52

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Karbon Kev wrote:
He may be a 'different person' but that doesn't change the fact that he was arrogant enough to try and cheat the system in the first place.

So he isn't allowed to regret what he did and see that it was wrong without being a hypocrite?

Karbon Kev wrote:
That's why imo his original fine and ban wasn't hard enough. And that's why he's a hypocrite.

His ban not being hard enough does not make him a hypocrite. Like I say, having a problem with the system is very different from having a problem with Millar or his individual case.

Personally, I think he's a human being - he screwed up royally, like so many people do, but then he admitted that he had screwed up and tried to do what he could, at that point, to make it right. I struggle to see how that is hypocritical.

posted by step-hent [652 posts]
20th April 2012 - 11:07

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double post...

posted by step-hent [652 posts]
20th April 2012 - 11:07

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Whatever the rule it should be equitably and universally applied and consistently policed. If CAS want lifetime bans for doping then they should work to get such action applied to all athletes regardless of sport or nationality. They have the moral high, but sadly there is really no point in being a evangelist in a desert.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
20th April 2012 - 13:15

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What would be hypocritical of him is if he continued to dope while maintaining his present anti-doping stance. Is your problem that you suspect he's still at it? (Not having a go at you if you do, everyone's entitled to their opinion)

I don't see how f***ing up, taking your punishment, apologising for it then trying to make amends can be identified as hypocritical.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2957 posts]
20th April 2012 - 13:23

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Lets get it straight. Millar did not confess. He was caught in possession, hook line and sinker. He initially remained silent, then made admissions as mitigation, probably after realising there was no way out. He has remained silent in relation to the culture of doping in the pro-peleton, and been openly critical of whistle blowers.

And whilst he has become an anti-doping spokesperson, he will not go as far as endorsing lifetime bans for riders because he would fall foul of this, both as a rider and part owner of his team. Lifetime bans are needed, both as a safeguard to keep the dishonest out of sport, but also as a message that doping will not receive a milimetre of tolerance. You do it -you're out. Coming back after two years spent training hard is hardly a punishment at all, and certainly not a sufficiently effective deterrent. Tolerance in any way gives the wrong message, and is not what you get in other professions for the most serious types of dishonesty. Insider trading, as an example, will almost certainly result in a lifetime sanction and possibly even a prison sentence. If cyclists want to be taken seriously (c.f. Millar's whinging about being under pressure in his book) they should expect serious sanctions when they cheat.

His position, whilst apparently admirable, is entirely self-serving. Being a continual 'mea culpa' apologist has allowed him to return to the sport and gain a lot of media attention, essentially re-establishing him in a financially even stronger and more marketable position than he was before.

Of course, this is what anyone else in his position would do, and I don't blame him for it. But the fact of the matter remains that he cheated, the effects of this remain, and the idea that he might be selected over other riders who have not flys in the face of what Olympic competition is about.

The problem here is with the rules, but lets not make him out to be some sort of angel. Maintaining the position he does very well suits his career, both in terms of increasing the size of his public image, and allowing him to continue as a rider and in a management role which he should be banned from permenantly.

posted by Johnnyha [3 posts]
20th April 2012 - 15:15

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Re Johnnyha's post:
For the sake of accuracy, he was not caught in possession. Empty vials and syringes were found, but he was not caught in possession of EPO or similar. But I guess that could be called semantics. However he did not remain silent - not sure where you get that from. For example when at Saunier Duval he raised concerns with the UCI when it was clear that the team management would take no action over clear doping-related issues with some of other riders on the team.

With Garmin he is not one of the managers. That is very clearly Vaughters. He has what I believe is a very modest share in the team, but is hardly responsible for making day to day decisions re the riders and team. Having said that, what he did do as soon as he moved to the team, was to persuade Vaughters etc that the very common practice across the peloton of injecting vitamins etc, should be stopped on the basis that this instills the culture that injecting anything, is good.

If you want to point to examples of people who should not be managing teams, it might be better to look at, oh, I dont know, how about Katusha?

Your position allows for no concept of rehabilitation. It completely discounts the idea of genuine remorse and regret, dismissing it completely as 'self-serving'.
Millar has mooted the idea of longer bans than at present but reduced if the offender provides information on the supply chain - something that most people think is critically needed.

posted by Sim1 [57 posts]
20th April 2012 - 16:28

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He was caught in possession of an old syringe months after he had decided of his own accord to stop doping. He was not caught in possession of EPO, but I take your point.

However, I'm not aware of him remaining silent on the doping culture - the opposite seems to be true? Also, I'm not aware of him being critical of whistle-blowers - can you elaborate?

You say that anyone else in his position would do the same, but its funny then that no-one else is? Most of them just come back then carry on racing.

Also, this isn't just cycling. Everyone knows the rumours about the non-cyclists named in Operation Puerto, but only cycling is bothering with things like blood metrics monitoring, and Garmin-Barracuda (and it's part-owner DM) are on the pro-active side of that.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2957 posts]
20th April 2012 - 16:54

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Thank goodness for that... not sure if the BOA was being niave or pig headed?
but can't understand why they think there own athletes should be at a disadvantage when the rest of the world doesn't agree Thinking

Paulo's picture

posted by Paulo [108 posts]
20th April 2012 - 18:26

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Paolo - surely BOA's stance should be applauded rather than vilified?

The bigger mystery to me, is why CAS, WADA and all the world's sporting bodies (including the UCI)don't have the same bylaw as BOA?

Let's be honest for a moment, doping would be pretty easy to eradicate if the political will to do it was genuine. A lifetime ban for cheats, coupled with financial disincentives for BOTH the athlete and their team (all personal winnings and sponsorship recouped from the athlete and a eye-wateringly high fine for the team along with a crippling loss of points, and add in possible prison sentences that could be applied to the doctors and pharmacists in the chain to-boot). Doping would be gone overnight. It's only worth it when the rewards outweigh the risks - change that and it's the end of the story.

Alternatively, take to court one of the only national bodies with a genuine disincentive for doping, and force them to adopt the same position as everyone else: roll up for the games no matter what you've done in the past, dopers are welcome. How much do you think these people really want to stop doping? It's pure lip-service. Actions speak louder than words...

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
22nd April 2012 - 14:06

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Lactclegs - One of the salient points here is that the BOA is a signatory to the World Anti-doping Code (WADC). It has therefore accepted that currently, for a first doping offence, the maximum sanction is two years.

The WADC was drawn up - long after the BOA's bylaw had been introduced - to formulate a unified global approach to tackling doping. Countries and governing bodies signing the WADC are endorsing it, and it contains a provision that they cannot seek to introduce additional penalties, which is at the centre of this case.

The BOA claims the lifetime ban is a selection policy, not a punishment, but WADA, and many sports lawyers disagree; it has nothing to do with a athlete's ability, and everything to do with the fact they once committed an offence for which they were sanctioned.

WADA's view is that any discussion of longer bans - and the UCI has said in the past that it supports the ban being increased to four years - should be done within the framework of the WADC, likewise issues such as inconsistent application by individual countries. It's difficult to argue with that.

The reason the maximum penalty is set at two years at the moment, which many perhaps with some justification can complain is too short, is that longer bans could result in a very real chance that athletes convicted of a first doping offence and banned for life, or even ten years, say, could successfully claim under human rights law that their ability to earn a living had been taken away from them (ie by being prevented from returning to the sport due to the length of ban). That's not a situation anyone in sport would welcome.

For the record, CAS doesn't make the rules, it decides how a particular case should be dealt with in light of the rules; if it goes beyond its powers in doing so, there is a right of appeal to the Swiss Federal Court (and those appeals do take place - I read that something like half its caseload now comes from CAS).

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7932 posts]
22nd April 2012 - 14:45

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Sim1 wrote:
Re Johnnyha's post:
For the sake of accuracy, he was not caught in possession. Empty vials and syringes were found, but he was not caught in possession of EPO or similar. But I guess that could be called semantics. However he did not remain silent - not sure where you get that from. For example when at Saunier Duval he raised concerns with the UCI when it was clear that the team management would take no action over clear doping-related issues with some of other riders on the team.

With Garmin he is not one of the managers. That is very clearly Vaughters. He has what I believe is a very modest share in the team, but is hardly responsible for making day to day decisions re the riders and team. Having said that, what he did do as soon as he moved to the team, was to persuade Vaughters etc that the very common practice across the peloton of injecting vitamins etc, should be stopped on the basis that this instills the culture that injecting anything, is good.

If you want to point to examples of people who should not be managing teams, it might be better to look at, oh, I dont know, how about Katusha?

Your position allows for no concept of rehabilitation. It completely discounts the idea of genuine remorse and regret, dismissing it completely as 'self-serving'.
Millar has mooted the idea of longer bans than at present but reduced if the offender provides information on the supply chain - something that most people think is critically needed.

Where do you get all this information? From David Millar's account? There's a surprise. I understand that he is not a manager, but as a shareholder he has a say, and your post even gives an example of where he has influenced a management decision. What I mean by remaining silent, is that he did not confess until he was effectively caught, which is hardly a confession at all, but rather an admission of guilt.

I am happy for people to be rehabilitated, and for their sorrow, remorse etc to be accepted whole heartedly. What I have trouble with is their returning to a sport which they have damaged, to compete at the highest level.

I would believe in Millar's apparent remorse were he to sanction lifetime bans, but the fact that he won't, and without a reasonable counter argument, is what leads me to the conclusion that his position is self-serving.

Whatever rehabilitation may take place, the effects of doping will remain, both in terms of the athlete's development, and the damage done to the sport as a whole. Potential sponsors are put off and others withdraw from the sport. Just look at the reaction in Germany where live coverage of the sport was cancelled for a period.

If cyclists want to be taken seriously as a profession, then they should have the same system of sanctions that exist in other professions, for example medical, financial and legal, where breaches of rules of the same seriousness will result in bans and, in some cases, procedures in the Criminal Justice System.

posted by Johnnyha [3 posts]
1st May 2012 - 12:22

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