David Millar cleared to ride at Olympic Games… if he is selected

CAS tells British Olympic Assocation that it can't impose lifetime ban on convicted drug cheats

by Tony Farrelly   April 29, 2012  

David Millar MSR 2012 © Simon MacMichael

David Millar is no longer banned from competing at the 2012 Olympics, with the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) this afternoon officially announcing its decision that the British Olympic Associations (BOA) bylaw that bans convicted drug cheats from competing at the Olympics for life is illegal. British Cycling has said it will make no comment on speculation over Millar's potential inclusion in the British team.

Before the team is announced in June, Millar must now decide whether he wants to make himself available for Olympic selection - he was notably ambivalent on the matter in an interview with BBC Scotland earlier this year; and British Cycling needs to decide if they want to select him.

In its decision, which is attached at the end of this report, the CAS said: “The Bye-Law is a doping sanction and is therefore not in compliance with the WADA Code. The CAS confirms the view of the WADA Foundation Board as indicated in its Decision. Therefore, the appeal of BOA is rejected, and the Decision of the WADA Foundation Board is confirmed.”

Unsurprisingly given the pivotal role Millar played in helping Team GB propel Mark Cavendish to his UCI Road World Championship win last year  British Cycling's Performance Director, Dave Brailsford has already said he is ready to  pick Millar if the Olympic ban is lifted.

Besides that role on the road, Millar would also be a strong candidate to take the second slot in the individual time trial alogside Bradley WIggins; Millar won the world championship in that discipline in 2003, and although he was stripped of that title after confessing to doping the following year, he won silver behind Fabian Cancellara at Geelong in 2010 and is reigning Commonwealth champion.

If Brailsford doesn't already know the Scotsman's intentions, he will no doubt want him to make his mind up as quickly as possible.

"My job is to pick the fastest team, the best team that can win that race in London. It is not my job to decide if somebody is eligible or not," said Brailsford, who was at dinner with Millar in Biarritz the night the former Cofidis rider was arrested by French police and helped support him after his two-year ban for using EPO.

"I will get shown a list of people who are eligible, then I will look at performance and decide who is most likely to get the result and I will pick them," he told The Guardian at a Team Sky press day last week.

Reacting to the announcement of the decision by the CAS this afternoon, British Cycling said: "Our team for the Games is being selected in June and across all disciplines we’ll pick the team based on which riders are fit and available, and who we believe have the best chance to deliver medals. Ahead of that we won’t be speculating on who may or may not be selected. British Cycling will not be making any further comment at this time.”

The 'Millar question' has become something of a media distraction for the main protagonists in the GB road team in the run-up to the games - with the subject of the Garmin Barracuda rider looming over the last two Team Sky press days. Ten days ago in the face of sustained questioning about Millar during Sky's last press event Mark Cavendish forcefully reminded the assembled journos that they were there to talk about him.

That was not before though he also came out in favour of having Millar on the team - something he has consistently said he would be happy to see.

“I’d love David Millar to be on the start line with me,” he maintains. “He captained our team to the world championship last year in Copenhagen and I’d love him to be there in the Olympic Games. 

“He’s a loyal team mate and very good physically, and he’ll make a massive difference to our team,” he continues, before going on to outline some of the specific qualities that Millar could bring to the team.

“There’s no radios allowed in the Olympic Games, it’s harder when you’re in a bike race than watching it on TV,” he explains. “You have to be able to read a race and know what’s going on, that’s where experience comes in.”

Sky's other star Brit and Olympic hopeful, Bradley Wiggins has been portrayed by the media at least as being slightly more ambivalent about Millar's inclusion in the team. Earlier this year the Team Sky presentation was dominated by a BBC interview with Wiggins in which he was reported as saying that Millar should not be allowed to compete at London 2012 - Wiggins said that his remarks had been taken out of context, something the video of the interview seemed to confirm but which still didn't stop a Twitter spat between Wiggins and Millar about the affair in the aftermath.

The news that the ban would have to go was given to the BOA by letter over the weekend informing the organisation of the CAS decision. In unoffical briefings  BOA officials have been discounting their chances of success for some weeks now and that process was stepped up a gear on Sunday with various media outlets told, unofficially of course, that the decision has not gone the BOA's way while at the same time the organisation put out a statement saying it would be making no comment on the matter "out of respect for CAS and the Arbitration Panel."

In reality most observers outside of the BOA and very possibly inside it too knew the writing was on the wall for the BOA ban as long ago as last year when CAS ruled that the International Olympic Committee's so-called Osaka rule - which stopped any athlete banned for more than six months from competing in the following Olympics must be repealed.

CAS ruled that the Osaka rule did not comply with the binding WADA code - any sports organisation affiliated to WADA is bound by the code part of which sets out the sanctions that will be applied to athletes caught doping. As with Osaka, the CAS panel - made up of the same three members who ruled on that earlier case - has decided that the BOA's lifetime sanction amounts to an additional and illegal punishment.

While the BOA may have lost this battle and indeed possibly gone in to it knowing it would lose (despite claims to the contrary) it is likely that this isn't the end of the power struggle between WADA and the governing bodies of world sport. The BOA is already calling for the mandatory ban for a doping offence to be increased to four years from the current 2 while a number of Olympic associations and national federations in various sports are also questioning why the WADA code should effectively prevent them from picking the athletes they want, or more pertinently don't want, in their teams.

AttachmentSize
CAS BOA versus WADA award 30 Apr 20012.pdf208.35 KB

12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Conroversial.

I think its fair enough tohugh, he said hes sorry.

Don't know about Chambers though, theres a sorry story. Plain Face

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
30th April 2012 - 7:50

4 Likes

I would support longer bans, 4 years perhaps, but I think this is simplifying the situation a little. If an individual:

1. is feeling under pressure to perform (at anything)
2. becomes disillusioned with the perceived lack of support network (as multiple riders have said, but most notably Millar)
3. thinks others are getting away with cheating
4. knows the testing science is a couple of years behind the doping science
5. loses their idealist view of their sport/profession as a result of the above

then doping becomes an inevitable path, not for all, but certainly for a proportion.

Fiddling with the ban length is just tinkering with the easy bit.

Looked at in terms of other sports, I would also suggest it's getting ahead of themselves. WADA need to insist on blood monitoring and out of comp testing for other tough top flight sports.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3572 posts]
30th April 2012 - 9:05

6 Likes

right, job done, select him and crack on with winning this olympics

posted by russyparkin [578 posts]
30th April 2012 - 13:49

4 Likes

Shame to hear the BOA giving in to WADA and letting cheaters ride the olympics.

If Flandis said "I'm sorry" would it make it ok? No, absolutely not.

Drug cheaters need to be punished, long, hard, and severe, no matter what sport.

seabass89's picture

posted by seabass89 [235 posts]
30th April 2012 - 15:01

5 Likes

If it was OK to select him for the Worlds why such as big song and dance about the Olympics? I think he's a bit different from all the other cheats in that (to my knowledge) he's the only one to hold his hands up and say "guilty" and not give some BS excuse about contaminated steak or sweets that his mother in law brought back from holiday.

posted by sneakerfrfeak [82 posts]
30th April 2012 - 15:41

5 Likes

This is crazy, an anti drugs agency taking BOA to court to allow drug cheats to partake in the games. This could allow cheats to take drugs at the olympics knowing they could have another go in four years time, criminals aren't always found out.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1051 posts]
30th April 2012 - 15:58

7 Likes

Here is Geraint Thomas's stance on it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/wales/17891988

I feel sorry for Millar, he came out and admitted what he'd done, served the ban given to him and got on with rebuilding his career.

BUT i want to see the lifetime ban stands, even if this means that the GB squad could be weakened

I also want to see an end to countries "signing" up foreign nationals to race for the country. Thats not a dig at GB, just in general. Qatar and some of the middle east countries seem to do this on a regular basis.

If there is a genuine reason behind it, yes. Like someone who fled a war torn country and has settled in another place. But if they are just moving from one place to another because of funding issues. Thats not on in my eyes.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9117 posts]
30th April 2012 - 17:06

4 Likes

Read the article again, it's not giving in, it's the rules.

The BOA has a relationship with WADA, who stipulate the bans. The BOA can't just decide to pick up their ball and go home because they don't like the outcome.

Slightly off-topic, but he was caught, served his ban, and can now race again. I'd love to see the same amount of scrutiny applied to some other sports. Like Tennis, for example.

posted by thereandbackagain [157 posts]
30th April 2012 - 17:30

4 Likes

Yes, as thereandbackagain says, if the BOA signed up to the WADA code (which they knew was binding)then they have to abide by that code - they can't pick and choose which bits they don't like, even if they want to do that on what some might see as the entirely laudable basis that the sanctions in the code aren't tough enough.

I can't believe they didn't know they were going to lose all along and that this isn't simply part of a bigger picture plan on the BOA's part to toughen the sanctions in the WADA code, either that or they simply like visiting Switzerland on a regular basis.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4176 posts]
30th April 2012 - 17:46

8 Likes

I think that as he's served his ban that means it's fine for normal racing. However, for the Olympics, the morals are important which gives a reason for his ban from them, but also his anti drugs stuff has done more good than what he's done bad. Thinking

hi

posted by cool guy 999 [54 posts]
30th April 2012 - 19:26

4 Likes

Chris Hoy is one of a number of athletes who are quoted as supporting a lifetime ban:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/17781706

Hard line taken by James Cracknell too:
"I have no respect for him on any level."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/17890188

But did the BOA's Olympic life ban deter any athlete from doping?

Apart from the velodrome and the road events I think it has become an excessively corporate affair. Money talks.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2154 posts]
1st May 2012 - 12:56

5 Likes

cycling is over scrutinised, test 1 or 2 footballers on 'out of competion' checks on a sunday morning. bet there will be enough cocaine in their systems to kill a normal man.

how often are motorsport riders/drivers tested?

all sport is corupt and full of enhancements. its just a gamble if you get caught or not

posted by russyparkin [578 posts]
1st May 2012 - 22:11

5 Likes