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."
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.