World champion Lizzie Armitstead has escaped sanction – and a ban which could have cost her a place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games – after the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) cleared the Brit of any anti-doping rule violation based on a UKAD ‘whereabouts failure’.
Armitstead, 27, was charged by UKAD with three whereabouts failures in a 12-month period – on August 20 2015, October 5 2015 and June 9 2016 – but CAS ruled the first of those was due to the UKAD Doping Control Officer not following required procedures or making reasonable attempts to locate her.
The decision was reached ‘promptly and unanimously’ on Thursday July 21 and means the Yorkshirewoman will be free to compete in the Rio 2016 women’s road race, where she is among the favourites to win gold on the undulating circuit.
And Armitstead has reiterated her anti-doping stance, in a statement released today, saying: “I have always been and will always be a clean athlete and have been vocal in my anti-doping stance throughout my career. I am pleased that CAS has accepted my position, having provided detailed information demonstrating the situation around my strikes.
“This issue was one of administration and was the result of UKAD not following proper procedure nor fully attempting to make contact with me despite clear details being provided under ‘whereabouts’. I was tested in competition the day after this test, reinforcing my position that I do not cheat and had no intention of not being tested.
“I think that there should be clearer guidelines for those administrating tests and would like to work with UKAD going forward to explore how this can be better addressed in the future so no other athlete is put in this position.
“Meanwhile, I hope that UKAD can now return to the important job of making sure all athletes are clean and that Rio is the clean Olympics that we all want.
“I understand how important it is to be vigilant in my role as a professional athlete and realise the potential implications this could have had. I would like to thank British Cycling and the team around me for all of their help and support.
“I am very much looking forward to putting this situation behind me and firmly focussing on Rio again after what has been an extremely difficult time for myself and my family."
Armitstead thanked British Cycling for their support with the case, and has not disputed her two other strikes – saying the October 2015 failure was an administrative oversight on her part, and the June 2016 missed test was due to ‘an emergency change of plans due to a serious illness within her family’.