Sky rider banned 2 years, fired by team for doping
SAINT-ETIENNE, France (AP) — Sky Team principal Dave Brailsford feels personally “let down” after investing time and resources in British cyclist Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, who was suspended for two years and fired by the team on Thursday for doping.
Tiernan-Locke was banned for discrepancies in his biological passport, which tracks a rider’s blood profile over time to look for evidence of doping, the International Cycling Union said.
Sky terminated his contract after receiving the UCI’s confirmation of the doping offense.
Shortly after the Tour de France 12th stage, which ended in the southeastern city of Saint-Etienne, Brailsford stepped out of a car to speak to reporters near the team bus.
“When somebody knows clearly what your stance is, and they disregard it, and come all the same then, yeah, you do feel let down by them, there’s no denying it,” he said. “Now that the process has been concluded, we terminated his contract with immediate effect.”
The UCI announced in December 2013 that Tiernan-Locke faced a disciplinary hearing after analysis of his biological passport showed “use of prohibited substances and/or methods.”
His suspension was listed on Thursday on the UCI website. His ban lasts through Dec. 31, 2015.
Tiernan-Locke won the Tour of Britain in 2012 and was considered the next big star in British cycling.
Team Sky has produced the last two Tour de France champions, British riders Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Chris Froome in 2013.
“Our ambition is clear. It is to do it clean, and we have done. We’re a British team, we want to win the Tour de France with a clean British rider, which we’ve done,” Brailsford said. “We wanted to create a cycling revolution, which we’ve done. A guy’s cheated before he’s got to our team, and that process is now concluded and, quite clearly, there is no place for him on our team.”
The suspicious readings in Tiernan-Locke’s biological passport were taken in September 2012, shortly before he signed a two-year contract with Team Sky and three months before his first race with the team.
“We know the violation was before he joined Team Sky ... there’s no place for cheats in this sport and certainly not on Team Sky,” Brailsford said. “Our action is the inevitable outcome of a violation. This is a team that trains, races, and wins clean.”
Sky said Tiernan-Locke’s biological passport was not reviewed until the spring of 2013, once anti-doping authorities collected enough readings.
Tiernan-Locke had not raced for the team since September 2013 and had not taken part in any team activities since he was formally notified of the violation last Dec. 16.
Asked if he was confident Tiernan-Locke did not dope while on his team, Brailsford said “there’s nothing that we could see in the data to suggest it” adding that “we scrutinise in real detail all the information we’ve got and our monitoring is second to none.”