BANNED cyclist Jonathan Tiernan-Locke says that a key blood sample, taken for Team Sky only 48 hours after the test which led to his two-year suspension, strongly indicates his innocence – but the UK Anti-Doping agency dismissed it.
South Devon’s former Tour of Britain winner insists that he is and always has been ‘clean’ of any banned substances or methods.
And he has never failed any drug test.
But a two-year ban, for alleged use of the EPO drug and/or ‘blood doping’, was ratified by UKAD and cycle racing’s ruling body, UCI, last week.
Yet the UKAD panel’s report also confirmed the fact that on September 24, the day after the World Championships and only two days after the UCI test, Tiernan-Locke gave another sample ‘at the request of Team Sky’.
It was analysed at the Central Manchester University Hospital.
The analysis was not carried out under the UCI’s ‘passport’ programme, but UKAD admit: “There is no reason to question its accuracy.”
That test showed Tiernan-Locke’s blood levels returning to normal, and Team Sky were happy enough with the findings to sign him to a two-year contract shortly afterwards.
Yet UKAD then say: “The (UCI) experts are only permitted under the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) operating guidelines to take into account results obtained from analyses conducted under the ABP (passport) programme.”
Tiernan-Locke reports: “The September 24 test was a key piece of evidence for us which was dismissed.
“That sample showed that the one test in question was just an anomaly from acute dehydration amongst other things.
“And in a doping scenario, you certainly wouldn’t have seen the values return to normal for possibly weeks, not 48 hours.”
Tiernan-Locke, 29, the former star of Kingsteignton-based Mid-Devon CC, says he can’t take the fight to clear his name any further, because he cannot afford to. He claimed that the abnormal blood values, from the sample taken between his Tour of Britain win and his strong ride in the World Road Race Championships in Holland in September 2012, were caused by the effects of an ill-timed drinks session two days before the test and resulting dehydration.
UKAD accepted that the night-out could have caused his abnormal blood levels, but they refused to believe that he didn’t rehydrate, by drinking water, before he took the test.
Tiernan-Locke also revealed that he had asked the UCI why, in the wake of their 2012 test, they had not ordered immediate ‘target-testing’ of him – to identify any anomalies and then use further tests to detect if he was breaking the rules, rather than suspend him on suspicion.
His next test was more than two months later.
“The UCI had no good response, and could not explain why I was not tested in the period following the Worlds,” he said.
“We argued that, if they had done that, I would likely not be in this position.”
Tiernan-Locke’s latest evidence raises further doubts about the way his case, based on a single blood sample rather than the usual range, was handled and the reliability of the ‘passport’ programme.
His two-year ban is also longer than those handed down to several other professional riders who have been found guilty of taking performance-enhancing drugs.
As things stand, Tiernan-Locke will not be allowed to race or train with a UCI-accredited team until January 2016.