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Mark Cavendish confirms he missed out-of-competition drugs test last April

News comes on day that WADA's Wherabouts programme has been in the spotlight...

World champion Mark Cavendish has confirmed that he has missed an out-of competition drugs test during 2011 under the ‘Whereabouts’ programme operated by the World-anti doping Agency (WADA).

News of his missed test comes on the same day it was announced that world individual pursuit champion Grégory Baugé has been stripped of his world individual sprint title following three Whereabouts infringements.

It was also revealed today that another French cyclist, FDJ’s Yoann Offredo is facing disciplinary proceedings after committing three violations.

Three infringements during an 18-month period – which may include failure to comply with rules regarding submission of whereabouts, as well as failure to update information, thereby causing a missed test – results in disciplinary proceedings being opened.

Unless the athlete can prove extenuating circumstances such as, for example, a delayed flight, such proceedings are likely to lead to a suspension, with three violations being treated as equivalent to a positive drugs test.

Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport broke news of Cavendish’s missed test in its print edition this morning.

The newspaper suggested that it may have resulted from the former HTC-Highroad rider spending more time away from his home in Tuscany as a result of his relationship with girlfriend Peta Todd, who lives in Essex.

However, in a statement released this afternoon, Cavendish, now with Team Sky, revealed that he was actually in Italy at the time.

"I missed an out-of-competition test last April, it was my mistake,” he explained.

"I was with a film crew from the BBC and Giro d'Italia on Mount Etna. It was a simple, genuine admin error.

"Of course I totally understand the importance of testing in sport. I was tested by the UCI (International Cycling Union) a couple of weeks before that and twice in the fortnight after and had around 60 tests in all last year.

"It's part of the job. And it's my job to make sure that I don't miss another."

The video in question was filmed with BBC Breakfast sports reporter Mike Bushnell ahead of the roads around the volcano hosting the Giro d’Italia last May, the stage won by Alberto Contador on his way to overall victory in the race.

According to WADA, “Athletes remain responsible for their whereabouts. They cannot avoid responsibility by blaming their representative for filing inaccurate information about their whereabouts or for not updating their whereabouts if they were not at the location specified by them during the 60-minute time-slot.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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londonplayer | 11 years ago

"I wasn't there because I was cycling up Mt Etna" Who's he trying to kid?  16

pmr | 11 years ago

Cue several days of sh it stirring and Cavendish having to explain about a thousand times how he came to be at the wrong place once out of about 60 tests.
He will have to get a better PA though!

mattsccm | 11 years ago

Whilst I appluade Cav's attitude etc and in no way condone doping I can't be completely supportive of the press and their role in the doping bissue.
The press are not there as guardians of our sport. They exist to make money and a bit of s*** stirring which increases sales is far more important to them than any distress or concern that they may cause. Or the good of the sport!
I agree that there is no smoke without fire but the very public nature of the scandals which gives the uneducated genral public such a bad impression, is not caused by doping, its caused by the press. Exactly the same sanctions etc could be taken against riders without exposing the dirty laundry to the whole world. I am afraid that until the entire sporting world handles these issues in an identical manner eg with water tight and agreed sanctions, disharmony will exist.
At least we can be thankful that the cycling world isn't really overshadowed by the far more serious cock ups performed by other sportsmen ( so far or in a high profile manner) eg drink driving.

PeteH | 11 years ago

wonder if this was the day he got Peta up the duff?

Simon_MacMichael | 11 years ago

konkrete - the Cavendish story was published in the Gazzetta before the other two stories broke today. Cavendish made his statement in reaction to the story about him being made public.

Assuming he knew of it before today, and there's nothing to suggest he didn't, he's had opportunities to talk about it, and hasn't, which is fine - he has no obligation to do so.

But while his views on doping are well known and welcome, the fact remains he didn't announce the missed test, he simply confirmed reports that were already out there, although again, I think that's something that should be applauded.

konkrete replied to Simon_MacMichael | 11 years ago

Oh, I stand corrected. I only saw the comments made by Mark on twitter and they matched the quotes from various news sources, so I figured those comments came first.

I agree with your comments about applauding Mark and many other competitors for being so upfront about this, arguably, taboo subject.

Simon_MacMichael | 11 years ago

The Gazzetta quotes just various sources. Who those sources are - someone close to Cavendish, someone within WADA or UCI, someone else - they don't say. But the Gazzetta is thorough, and has a track record of being right, as they were on this one.

Note, though, that they weren't judgmental - it's a missed test, they haven't insinuated anything untoward into that, they've pointed out that he has a busy schedule which has also been subject to changes in his personal life.

So, is it news? Well, he's one of the biggest stars in the sport, perhaps since the world championship win the biggest star right now (and from the point of view of us covering the story, he's British of course). So even in isolation, the story is news, and certainly once he has issued a statement on it.

The fact it broke the same day as the news on Baugé and Offredo underscores that. We'll be following those up, but for now, there's elements of both that make you wonder if the whereabouts programme is simply too onerous on the athlete, especially in a sport such as cycling where programmes are subject to change at short notice, unlike many other sports.

In the Baugé case, there is also a delay that needs to be explained between the final infraction and the disciplinary hearing; Alex Rasmussen was recently acquitted because the UCI (which is appealing) didn't notify him in time; Jeannie Longo was absolved because the French hadn't notified her she was in the testing pool, therefore there was actually no offence to commit in the eyes of the law because in effect she wasn't subject to it.

It does seem that the system isn't working as it should be, although specific issues may differ in individual cases.

Cavendish has a reputation for fine detail, for double checking everything. If he can be caught out, anyone can. That's news.

Yes, it's a first infraction, and you would be very surprised if there were another. But suppose there were. He's only one away from the three strikes and you're out.

By the way, there's no extenuating circumstances here, and Cavendish isn't claiming there were. He was somewhere that was different from where he had told WADA he'd been, and that's enough to chalk up a first infraction.

As we say in the article, only something like a delayed flight - remember the chaos surrounding the Icelandic ash cloud which caused chaos during Classics season a couple of years ago - is going to get you of the hook.

It's also a fact that people in this country generally, including many cycling fans, will pay more attention to a story about Cavendish missing a test than one about Baugé committing three infractions and being stripped of a world title. That's just the way it is.

If through the attention his involvement gets, we can help people understand how the system works and where there may be shortcomings in it, so much the better.

konkrete | 11 years ago

I think the point of this story should have been the fact that, amidst the recent WADA/Grégory Baugé press, Mark has announced on his twitter feed his own missed tests.

Cav has always been out-spoken on the state of the sport with regards to doping. In his own words in an interview with the BBC; "Cycling is one of the cleanest sports because it is so open about it;s doping cases, all sports have dopers but we are public about ours whereas other sports aren't"

I am paraphrasing and I am sure a search of the beeb site would find the interview, but you get the idea.

miffed | 11 years ago

THIS ISNT NEWS! he missed one test almost a year ago, if you miss 3 then its suspicious but one can be an honest mistake and this seems to have extenuating circumstances. I wonder how many other athletes (especially in other sports) who have missed one or more tests.

Simon E | 11 years ago

RCUK thinks that a single missed test shouldn't even be public knowledge.

nick_rearden replied to Simon E | 11 years ago
Simon E wrote:

RCUK thinks that a single missed test shouldn't even be public knowledge.

It is precisely that kind of hushing up that has contributed to the current drugs mess in sport much as we want to put our fingers in our ears and pretend it's not happening. I don't know how the news made it to Gazetta - I expect Simon who wrote the article will have a better idea of whether there is an official channel or not - but however it happened it's good that it did, even if it is Cav in the spotlight and I suspect even the Manx Missile himself would have to agree.

For a start, Cavendish won't feel so inclined to miss any further tests and far more important it sends out a message to all the other athletes that testing has to be taken seriously. It must be a complete pain in the neck to live with - having to report your whereabouts at all times so you can be found for testing - but that's the price they pay - makes you wonder how they remain cheerful at all considering all the other pressures.

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