Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, the winner of Tour of Britain 2012, has been asked by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to explain variations in his biological passport data.
The 28-year-old Tiernan-Locke joined Team Sky in January after he won the 2012 Tour of Britain for his former team Endura. According to the Sunday Times, the cyclist from Devon has three weeks to respond to the UCI letter and his reply will be evaluated by a panel of experts who will decide whether the cyclist should face disciplinary sanctions.
Sir Dave Brailsford, the Team Sky principal who has long advocated for a 'zero tolerance policy', said he is not in a position to say anything at this point of time. Team Sky released a statement in which it remarked that the team has been informed by Jonathan Tiernan-Locke that the UCI has notified him of a potential discrepancy in his biological passport data. It added the cyclist has withdrawn from racing whilst his response to the UCI is prepared then considered by the UCI and the team has no doubts over his performance, behavior, or tests at Team Sky and understand any anomaly is in readings taken before he joined the team. The statement also said Team Sky has tried to respect what should be a confidential process, allowing the rider to explain in private, without prejudice, and the anti-doping authorities to do their valuable job and Team Sky will not add any further detail at this stage in the ongoing process.
A spokesman for British Cycling remarked it is not our policy to discuss individual cases until they are concluded and all appeals heard amd information until then is considered personal and confidential and its release is absolutely at the discretion of the athlete. The spokesman added we remain committed to respecting what should be a confidential process which allows the anti-doping authorities to do their job in the right way and an individual the chance to explain privately and without prejudice.
Newly-elected UCI president Brian Cookson who defeated Pat McQuaid of Ireland remarked he thinks this absolutely underlines why anti-doping has got to be independent from the UCI and I certainly won't be interfering in this process at all. Cookson added he would not have done when he was the president of British Cycling and he wouldn't do now he is the president of UCI.
The 61-year-old Briton added his first priorities as president would be to make anti-doping procedures in cycling fully independent, sit together with key stakeholders in the sport and work with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) to ensure a swift investigation into cycling's doping culture. His appointment was welcomed by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). A statement issued by USADA's chief executive, Travis Tygart said, USADA welcomes cycling's vote for a new and clean future and the outcome of the UCI election sends a powerful message that sport leaders who fail to fully protect the rights of clean athletes and the integrity of their sport will be held accountable.