Sir Bradley Wiggins insists Lizzie Armitstead has “no excuse” for the three missed drugs tests that nearly led to the road world champion being banned for two years in July.
News of the failed tests broke the week before the 27-year-old was due to ride the road race at Rio and overshadowed her preparations for the event.
She was only able to compete in Brazil, where she finished fifth, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned a ban imposed by UK Anti-Doping.
Speaking to the Guardian, Wiggins – who won the fifth Olympic gold medal of his career in Rio – said: “It’s bloody hard because what happens is you miss one test, they write you a letter, they ask you to explain what happened and you’ve got two weeks to put a case forward.
“If you ignore that and then you get another one, you end up having crisis meetings.”
He went on: “You get a lot of support from UK Sport. They’re brilliant, actually. They’re on the phone daily. They send you emails, reminders, they’ll put plans in place for you in terms of someone helping you with the whereabouts, so you don’t end up … well, it’s very difficult, then, to go from two to three. And to get three within eight or nine months, there’s no excuse.”
CAS held that the first of Armitstead’s missed tests, which happened in August last year, was not her fault.
It ruled that the anti-doping officer due to carry it out at the hotel in Sweden where she was staying with her Boels-Dolmens team should have made more of an effort to contact her when reception staff refused to give out her room number.
But some have queried why the rider from Otley waited to challenge that until the third strike, which could have jeopardised her participation at Rio, and her career, as well as how such a high profile rider could have put herself in such a position.
“When you’re a professional athlete and you’re a world champion, there’s no excuse, because it’s your career,” said Wiggins.
“You’re setting the standard for everybody else, and to say, ‘Cycling wasn’t my priority at that time’ is ludicrous, because you nearly lost your career over it. That’s just ridiculous. So I can’t fathom how that happened,” he added.
The comments are contained in a wide-ranging interview in tomorrow’s Guardian Weekend magazine with Wiggins, who is currently riding the Tour of Britain and will end his career at the Ghent Six in November.
There, he is likely to partner Mark Cavendish, who In an interview in Rio shortly before he began the omnium campaign that saw him win silver behind Italy’s Elia Viviani, also spoke out about the situation Armitstead found herself in.
Cavendish, who has himself missed an out-of-competition test in the past, said that while he did not believe Armitstead was doping, she was “absolutely” to blame for the what had happened.
"I think Lizzie herself could have prevented the chaos that she's in but I think she's done well to deal with it, get on her bike and show why she's world champion," he added.