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Sierra Leone cyclist not missing, say Glasgow 2014 organisers

Team head says he knows where Mohammed Tholley is – but athletes scared to go home due to Ebola outbreak

Organisers of the Commonwealth Games say that a cyclist from Sierra Leone who failed to start last Thursday’s time trial and who disappeared from the athlete’s village is not in fact missing, as had been feared. However, a number of members of the African nation’s team are thought to be planning to extend their stay in the UK as their home country remains in the grip of an outbreak of the Ebola virus.

According to BBC News Scotland, Glasgow 2014 have confirmed that Sierra Leone’s chef de mission knows the whereabouts of the cyclist in question, Mohamed Tholley. He vanished on Thursday, leaving behind his room key and missed the time trial.

Earlier, his team mate Moses Sesay had spent four days in a Glasgow hospital in isolation and was tested for Ebola after complaining of feeling unwell. He was given the all clear, as was another athlete from Sierra Leone, table tennis player Samuel Morris, who was also tested.

Sesay, who finished last in the time trial, won by England’s Alex Dowsett, was a non-finisher in yesterday’s rainswept road race where the winner, Geraint Thomas of Wales, was one of just a dozen riders to stay the course.

With the Ebola outbreak now claiming more than 700 lives in four West African countries, including Sierra Leone, some of the nation’s athletes are said to be scared to return home.

Chef de mission Unisa Deen Kargbo said: "Athletes have come to me and said they don't want to return because of the Ebola situation.

"There have been discussions with back home to see what the final decision will be on that. I have a mandate to return the athletes on 5 August and that's what I'm working towards now."

When he was asked whether some athletes might stay in Britain, he said: "The UK government will have to decide if that's an option, but I don't know."

He added that Tholley had the legal right to remain in the UK until September, and that he hadn’t told anyone on the team that he planned to leave the athlete’s village.

The cyclist’s coach, Winston Crowther, said Tholley could have been worried about Ebola but that other issues could have been involved too in his departure from the village, including economic reasons.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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