David Millar makes himself available for Olympic selection

Scot had earlier said he was worried about being treated as a "black sheep" due to doping past

by Simon_MacMichael   June 1, 2012  

David Millar MSR 2012 © Simon MacMichael

David Millar has made himself available for selection for the Great Britain team at London 2012 following the overturning of the British Olympic Association’s lifetime ban for convicted dopers. Earlier this year, the Garmin-Barracuda rider had expressed doubts about whether he wanted to compete at the Olympics, worried that he might be perceived as a “black sheep” due to his past.

Now, however, it looks likely that he will act as road captain as Mark Cavendish aims to take gold in the road race on 29 July, the same role Millar undertook when helping the Manxman to his world championship win in Copenhagen in September last year.

The 35-year-old Millar would also be certain to line up alongside Bradley Wiggins in the individual time trial four days later; Millar took silver behind Fabian Cancellara in that discipline in the world championships in Geelong in 2010, and a few days later won Commonwealth Games gold in Delhi.

“I’m available,” Millar told the Times. “I spent a lot of time thinking about it, but I’ve concluded that if I can be of benefit to the team, I would be happy to help.

“The most rational thing is to leave it to the selectors to decide. If they think that including me might be in any way detrimental, even if, physically, I could be one of the strongest riders, I will respect any decision they make. But I think I can genuinely help in the road race, and that’s helping Mark.”

In 2004, Millar received a two-year ban after admitting using EPO, and was stripped of the world championship time trial title he had won in Canada the previous year. He was also banned for life from competing for Great Britain at the Olympics under the same bylaw that was ruled invalid and unenforceable by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in April.

After his return to the sport, Millar has become one of the leading voices in the peloton in the battle against doping ad has helped British Cycling and UK Anti-Doping formulate policies designed to help prevent young athletes from becoming involved in doping. He also sits on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s athletes panel.

Referring to his decision to put himself forward for inclusion in the Olympic squad, he said: “I have spent time fighting the idea of lifetime bans for a first offence and it gets confusing if I don’t make myself available."

But earlier this year, and ahead of the CAS ruling being announced, Millar had said: "I am quite happy looking forward to 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. That will be a much more joyful experience than me going to the Olympics as a black sheep.

"Even if it was to all go through now, and I was to go, I don't know if it would be a very joyful experience for me.”

“Is it a stronger message if I don't go, is it a stronger message if I do go and perhaps try to change people's opinion that forgiveness should be offered?”

That he has gone for the latter option may be down to the support and encouragement of riders such as Cavendish, who said in April:“I’d love David Millar to be on the start line with me.

“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.

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

British Cycling is due to announce its provisional team for the Olympics on 11 June, with the final selection being confirmed on 8 July.

Cavendish and Wiggins are automatic choices for two of the five spots in the road race, which must also include those riders targeting the time trial. On current form, Ian Stannard is also a shoo-in, as would be an in-form Millar.

Several riders, including Team Sky’s Jeremy Hunt, would be strong candidates for the final space, although it’s worth noting that following the world track championships in April, Ben Swift withdrew from the track squad for the Olympics to focus on helping Cavendish win on the road, suggesting he figures in Great Britain's – although that was before he broke his shoulder shortly before the Giro d’Italia started last month.

Ultimately, its now the sporting side of things that will determine whether Millar takes part in the Olympics, but like Swift, he has had to battle back from injury after breaking his collarbone during the E3 Harelbeke in March.

He is due to ride the Critérium du Dauphiné which starts on Sunday. “I had a few weeks out but I’m just coming in to my stride,” he said.

15 user comments

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Really dissapointing, he could have looked really strong from being the 'better man' here but sadly he's chosen a very easy way out which makes him look just like Chambers, whether he's running about whinging like a douche or otherwise.

posted by georgee [119 posts]
1st June 2012 - 14:29

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With my boyish good looks, (no sniggering at the back), it's hard to believe that I too was an impressionable twenty something, who also made some mistakes.
Millars stand on drugs since has been fantastic and for that alone, he should be allowed to ride the Olympics.

Ian of Woodford

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posted by winprint [119 posts]
1st June 2012 - 15:07

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Unlike Chambers he will offer a strong opinion on doping if questioned.

I'd be very happy to see him ride.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1301 posts]
1st June 2012 - 15:19

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georgee wrote:
Really dissapointing, he could have looked really strong from being the 'better man' here but sadly he's chosen a very easy way out which makes him look just like Chambers, whether he's running about whinging like a douche or otherwise.

Surely the "easy way out" would have been not making himself available and thereby avoiding the snide comments that are bound to accompany the "drug cheat" headlines?

Looks as though he can't win either way.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7495 posts]
1st June 2012 - 15:26

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Let's face it, even if he is selected and plays a blinder in the road race, ensuring the manxman is launched to victory by a mile, the sections of the media with the most snide comments will also be those that ask "why bother selecting him - he didn't win?!"

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
1st June 2012 - 15:49

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Chapeau, David - you have another supporter here Smile Could not have been an easy decision, but from my standpoint, the right one.

Cycling - not just a pastime or sport - free your soul on the open road.

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posted by timbola [200 posts]
1st June 2012 - 16:09

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What ever happened to redemption and forgiveness? He has not only redeemed himself but, in many ways, the sport of cycling itself. And what better advert for a drug free sport than someone who not only tirelessly campaigns against doping AND the circumstances that have led young riders astray, than a demonstrably drug free Millar helping guide a team to Olympic victory? He hasn't taken the easy way out since his fall and this decision has taken some cojones.
Chapeau I say!


posted by bobinski [94 posts]
1st June 2012 - 16:55

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It's a stronger message if you don't go, seeing as you asked David. I too am disappointed, sure we all make mistakes but some of us realise that there isn't always a way back

posted by fred22 [206 posts]
1st June 2012 - 18:32

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david, please come in and lead the the team (no race radios dont forget) a great rider and a he has served his time.

posted by russyparkin [550 posts]
1st June 2012 - 21:41

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I appreciate the difficulty he's faced in making this decision, but I can't help but think that I'd have been a lot happier if he'd decided not to make himself available.

Still, his choice and I don't think it's been an easy one.

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posted by Rob Simmonds [250 posts]
2nd June 2012 - 0:03

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It would be nice and simple to keep life bans. Miller cheated. On the other hand it's difficult to say his performance was significantly enhanced for the period of his doping - or that he is affecting anyone he directly cheated against by competing again.

There are plenty of dopers still out there and one or two we all know of who probably systematically and consistently cheated with blood transfusions and have never had to face Miller's disgrace.

Unless you can punish the worst offenders consistently you shouldn't restrict a reformed athlete from competing again and publicising the self loathing of cheating.


Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [933 posts]
2nd June 2012 - 9:54

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he hurt himself and his sport, not anyone else.

If GB win the road race with millar playing a key role, it'll be a great advert for what can be achieved without the use of drugs.

posted by meehaja [27 posts]
2nd June 2012 - 12:11

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he bloody well should be treated as a black sheep, cheating bar steward! his punishment was far too lenient.

posted by Karbon Kev [652 posts]
2nd June 2012 - 13:49

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Karbon Kev wrote:
he bloody well should be treated as a black sheep, cheating bar steward! his punishment was far too lenient.

Have you read his book? I read it with a opened mind and think he was foolish but under pressure by the team.

posted by JohnMartin [8 posts]
2nd June 2012 - 20:03

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Great that he's put himself forward. Brave decision... Don't condone drug cheating at all but he has done his time.

fizzydroadie Smile

posted by fizzydroadie [8 posts]
3rd June 2012 - 11:08

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