LA Confidential

Lizzie Armitstead has won an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport over three missed out-of-competition anti-doping tests that could have seen her banned for four years. Athletes regularly miss tests, these things happen but the hushed nature of her provisional suspension and the way her absence from races was reported by some as a choice raises a lot of questions.

Whereabouts Reminder: pro cyclists have to be available for anti-doping controls all year and away from racing. Riders use a WADA software package called ADAMS to list a one hour slot for every day of the year where they can be found by testers and controlled. Typically they specify an early morning slot, for example 6am-7am because they’re bound to located at home in bed and when travelling tend to specify the hotel for a similar early morning slot. If testers arrive at the specified venue within the time slot and the athlete is not there then a “no show” is marked. Three of these and the rider gets a ban, the reason being that a cheating athlete could duck all these tests and therefore go untested for weeks or months. You might remember the tale of Michael Rasmussen, the Dane who was leading the 2007 Tour de France. He logged his Whereabouts before the Tour as Mexico where he knew anti-doping officers where thin to non-existent on the ground only for him to be spotted training in Italy and, rumbled, he left the Tour de France.

No Show #1: Which brings us to Armitstead, she has missed three tests. The first was when an official showed up in Sweden ahead of the Open de Suède Vårgårda races and tried to conduct a test at 6am only according to the report in the Daily Mail, the basis of Armitstead’s appeal was that the official did not try hard enough to reach her:

Sportsmail understands the testing official did not explain to hotel staff why he wanted to know Armitstead’s room number at her team hotel in Sweden at around 6am. Having been refused the information by the hotel, he then attempted to contact Armitstead on a mobile phone that the cyclist had put on silent while she slept. No further attempts, it appears, were then made by the testing official and a missed test was logged with UKAD.
Daily Mail

Then followed two more no-shows, the second seems to be an admin error on Armitstead’s behalf and the third the same, only complicated by “an emergency change of plans due to a serious illness within her family”. Armitstead has won the appeal on the basis that the first test was not a case of her not showing up, more that the tester did not try hard enough to reach her.

It begs the question that if the first “no show” was a procedural mistake why was this not challenged at the time rather than waiting for a third strike, a case to be opened only for it to be questioned? Athletes are told soon after a no-show that it has been logged. In a statement issued today UKAD says “Ms Armitstead chose not to challenge the first and second Whereabouts Failures at the time they were asserted against her”. Perhaps it was just banked by Armitstead fearing the hassle with the hope it would fade away; others have certainly done this. If so it came back to bite and that’s no good for anyone. It leaves a Damoclean sword hanging over Armitstead’s head and if an anti-doping agency bungled the test then it should be corrected, if anything so they can learn how to do it right the next time.

No-shows show up: There are no statistics available but a significant number of riders have missed a test or even two. Only a few though have ever missed three. FDJ’s Yoann Offredo served a ban for this in what many saw as an administrative bungle, he was updating his Whereabouts but his team did it when he was racing, he scored two no-shows for himself and his team bungled another meaning he got suspended. There was little he could do about it and his ban and others serve as regular warnings to others not to mess up because one admin mistake can ruin a career. It’s not for nothing that among all the joys of being a pro athlete the ADAMS system and its equivalents are among the biggest pains for athletes although anyone complaining is free to punch a time card in a factory or fill in a time sheet for their office work: most workers have to account for their whereabouts.

What if she was Russian? Some people are saying “imagine if she was Russian or Kazakh” on Twitter, implying that these nations are more tarnished. Nationality seems to be a blind alley, yes some people’s instinctive reaction when they see a foreigner win is to be suspicious but a lot of the world see British athletes as equally foreign too. Here it should not make much difference if Armitstead was riding for a sinister nation like North Korea or representing The Vatican with the blessing of Pope Francis. Instead this is a procedural matter with clear rules that apply to all athletes. To miss three tests is to miss three tests.

British Legal Services: The one area where nationality seems to be part of the story is the way the case seems to have been managed by British Cycling at the Court of Arbitration of Sport. Armitstead rides for the Boels-Dolmans team but is obviously a “Team GB” rider too and British Cycling’s medal hopes rest on her. The governing body is famously dependent on funding from the British lottery where a formula allocates money to sports based on success at World Championships and the Olympics. This sets up an obvious conflict of interest with a governing body’s financial interests becoming aligned with that of a rider rather than the more neutral position a sports administration is supposed to take. Does British Cycling offer legal support for other Team GB riders staring at a ban, for example did they pay for Jonathan Tiernan-Locke’s hearing given he was also selected as a GB rider? The answer is surely no so under what specific circumstances did they decide to work on the CAS appeal?

LA Confidential: On Armitstead was provisionally suspended in 11 July only this seems to have been kept quiet all along. There’s no public record and the case was managed by UKAD. When the UCI has what’s called “result management authority” in the jargon all suspensions, including provisional ones, are listed on their website. Is it policy not to mention provisional suspensions in Britain, whether UK Anti-Doping or British Cycling?

Hush Hush: Now that we know what happened we can look back with hindsight at the reports of her absence at the time. Armitstead was a late DNS from La Course, the Champs Elysées criterium race. A BBC report says “…Armitstead withdrew before the start to concentrate on the Olympics” and London’s Telegraph wrote “The reigning world champion, decided not to risk a crash as she continues her preparations for the women’s Olympic road race”. Two reports with the same line, were the journalists fed a false story?

In response Armitstead said she missed the out of competition trial but says she was tested “the day after this test, reinforcing my position that I do not cheat and had no intention of not being tested”. Whoever wrote this line in her statement for her is raising a smokescreen because everyone knows an unannounced out of competition test is not the same as a regular finish line test. The whole point of an unannounced test is the surprise element and the line above is from the “never tested positive” playbook along with other bingo gems like “Dr Ferrari was just giving my training plans” and the point here is that we don’t know what Armitstead was up to but using a line like this just invites derision.

An admin error or a nefarious plan? You might have your views, you might be confused. Actually we don’t know. But the procedural system and storylines still invoke many questions, such was why the first missed test was only appealed when the thing blew up; why did British Cycling take up the case and was someone telling the media that her absence from racing was an elective decision rather than a ban? All that and more and it only clouds the issues.

  • Update 2.00pm CET: following more news and the UKAD statement the piece above has been changed in two places: first “Does British Cycling cover the legal fees” and the next sentence has been changed to “Does British Cycling offer legal support” following the report that British cycling didn’t fund the appeal, they just offered legal support; second to include a quote from the statement by UKAD issued today.

257 thoughts on “LA Confidential”

  1. Why wait until now for an Admin error in August last year? That’s the amazing bit.

    Everything else, collusion, British Cycling involvement, smoke/mirrors, duplicitous reporting etc… I’m not surprised about at all.

    • It is odd especially Armitstead has an agent who is paid to handle things like this. But people manage their personal life in all sorts of ways, as we’ve seen with the likes of Offredo and Rasmussen these tests can catch the chaotic/lazy as well as the dubious.

    • When you get the 2nd one a little more than a month later. Wouldn’t you do something about the first one if you know it’s not your fault, just in case? Even if it’s a hassle, wouldn’t it be better to walk around with two strikes left instead of just one? Pro cyclists aren’t all the brightest bunch, but Armisteads conduct here baffles me.

      • Indeed. Not immediately contesting the first whereabouts violation seems a massive oversight by Armistead, Boels Domans and British Cycling, especially seeing as the third strike has resulted in her actually missing one of the most high-profile races of the season (La Course) and scrabbling around to get cleared before the Olympics. If that third strike had come a few weeks later she could have been suspended for the Games, which would have been a lot harder to hush-up!

        However, I’m not massively surprised by this dereliction of duty, these “administrative oversights” seem all too regular, even at the highest level. Case-in-point: Maria Sharapova.

        That penultimate paragraph is brilliant; Lance should trademark the phrase “never tested positive” and get some t-shirts printed up. I’d buy one for the irony of it!

  2. I always struggle to look at the bimbling incompetence of sports governing bodies and come to the conclusion they are actually a highly effective conspiracy.

    Difficult to judge the decision not to appeal the first one at the time without knowing how many tests she had missed previously, if that was the first she had missed for years (or ever) you can kind of understand ignoring it and assuming it won’t matter in a year. Would also like to know how many out of comp tests they attempt in a year.

    But defo hard to understand how she wasn’t super cautious after getting the second one.

  3. I personally doubt there is any thing “dodgy” going on here but these episodes I find turn me off sport more and more at the top level. I have never felt such apathy towards a coming Olympics.

  4. For Tiernan-Locke, most of what I can find about the early days of the issue is Sky distancing themselves from him – the anomaly announcement came just before the World Champs and he withdrew from that, and Sky stopped him racing. Then they terminated his contract when he was banned. His name and “provisional suspension” don’t really yield much in Google.

    As for Armitstead it’s an unusual one isn’t it, from a funding point of view.
    It’s speculation on my part, but maybe British Cycling would not have funded her case had it been a potential doping violation rather than more of an administrative foul-up.

    Also, we know women aren’t paid as much as male cyclists, even the best in the world (indeed, in the Daily Mail recently it was reported that Bradley Wiggin’s Foundation gave money to Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell-Shand so they could train full time) – it could have been ruinously expensive for her to take it on by herself, perhaps? Are there mechanisms for recouping costs when going to CAS, like in a domestic civil law case?

      • Presumably she lives there with her Fiancé Phillip Deignan…
        Whilst Armistead is probably fairly well-paid in Women’s cycling terms, I suspect he earns a lot more.

        On the point about British Cycling & Tiernan-Locke – I wonder if BC didn’t fund any legal defense because, quite simply, they knew he was guilty!?

      • Does anyone know whether the legal advice/support obtained by BC was for BC or for LA? The reports I have seen imply that the advice was to do with what BC’s position would have been in the event that LA was banned rather than to assist LA in her defence, but I haven’t seen a clear answer on this to date.

  5. An interesting article, thanks.

    I seem to remember hearing something about the officials waiting a full hour before giving up. So if they turn up at 6am they would then continue to try and make contact every 15 minutes before leaving at 7am. Has anyone else heard this?

    • Thats the correct procedure. Apparently the tester in the first case didn’t identify himself properly on arrival at the hotel and so was not given Armitstead’s room number. He then tried contacting the mobile number LA had given but it was on silent as she was sleeping. (It was 6AM.) The tester apparently then recorded a missed test. This has subsequently been struck out as an inadmissible contact procedure and so LA is off the hook for now.

        • Thanks for the pointer, I hadn’t read that. And after watching the backstage passes, you can’t help but read it in Chris’s cracking Danish/Irish accent.

      • One would think if you said you’d be available for testing at X hour, you’d have your mobile turned ON during this period so the testers could contact you. “My phone was off” seems a pretty lame excuse for someone at this level. As pointed out by others, a rider from Russia guilty of the same infractions would be watching RIO on TV.

        • You’re right about the phone. But wrong about the Russians: one of the things uncovered by last year’s investigation was RUSADA’s practice of giving advance warning of out-of-competition tests. No Russian would have been guilty of these infractions.

        • If she receives the same number of spam texts that I get during the night it would make sense to have it on silent if she wanted to sleep.

          • Let’s say you did turn off your phone during the time you yourself had picked to “be available for testing”, and you’d wake op to find you’d been called repeatedly, from the same number, during the time you yourself had picked to “be available for testing”…?

            I’d immediately call back that number! Repeatedly, until I got them. Rather then tweet about my breakfast, as LA did. Next, I’d immediately go into ADAMS and log my explanation there.

            Yes, I would still have missed the test, since the tester will have already left, but at least I’d have something to back up my side of the story, and show that I do take OOC tests seriously.

        • The other way too look at it is for 365 days a year she puts her whereabouts down for a 6-7am slot and may have never been tested at that time in the last few years. Yes, you’d keep your phone off silent if you were expecting a call but why would you if you weren’t?

        • Frankly, missing three out of competition tests would be a laughable detail in Russia, a country accused of organised evasion of tests, whose anti-doping authority took orders from the FSB and in which almost all athletes are now accused of taking banned substances.

          Seriously, let’s keep this in proportion and remember that it is the UK Anti-Doping agency that went after Armitstead.

      • On the other hand, if one woke up and finally did check their phone and found a missed text from the tester, why not reach out then to say so and offer up a test asap? Or is there a reason to want to avoid it?

        • This doesn’t work, if you arrange a slot from Ham to H+1am the tester has to find you in these hours, arranging a deal after may seem helpful or earnest but it’s not allowed under the rules. It ruins the element of surprise for starters.

          • Right, understood. But my point being: just for the optics of it, looking “helpful or earnest” might have helped her case. Moot point tho.

    • I suppose any Tom, Dick or Harry could turn up at a hotel and ask for an athletes room number so it kind of begs the question; What is the correct procedure for anti-doping officer to properly identify themselves?

      And surely the room number should not be given in any case. The reception should phone the room and ask if is okay for an officer to attend the room in the next 5 mins. A refusal would then constitute a violation.

      • I agree. Armistead, without wanting to sound sexist, is very good looking and relatively well known in the UK though by no means on the same scale as Wiggins. Some lunatic stalker turning up at her hotels isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

        • As I understand it, the tester has to witness the sample being taken (is it blood and / or urine?), so one would assume that the official is same sex as the athlete?

      • Armitstead could have updated ADAMS with the hotel room so that the tester wouldn’t have had to ask. Indeed, BC advise their athletes to do so. She could have done this by sending an email, or an SMS, or even making a phone call to UKAD the evening before.

  6. Regarding Test 1, she was staying in a hotel booked by her team. As a matter of course when the team make their hotel bookings they advise the hotel that some/all their athletes might get a visitor at 6AM. This is SOP for any pro pro team making a hotel booking. It would be interesting to hear feedback from the hotel frontdesk manager that was on duty. I didn’t believe Chris Horner’s hotel change excuse after the Vuelta and I certainly don’t believe this. ‘not normal’

    She might’ve escaped a ban but she will notice the effect on future endorsements.

    • Yeah, lot of details we don’t know like a statement from the hotel. But in the absence of this information you are going to assume guilt?

      • In a case where a tester tries hard enough according to the procedures (going to the location and attempting to make contact every 10-15 mins for an hour) it would be classed as a missed test. Three such misses equals an anti-doping offence. Armitstead is very lucky the first tester didn’t try hard enough or she would now be banned. None of this implies actual doping, of course.

        • Doesn’t it? If the tester had tried “hard enough”, she would have been tested, wouldn’t she? and only then banned if she tested positive.

        • “Armitstead is very lucky the first tester didn’t try hard enough or she would now be banned.”

          This seems rather unfair. Presumably the logic behind her success at CAS is that, if the tester had tried hard enough, following the rules, then he might have managed to make contact and perform the test. She would have had only two missed tests and so not be banned.

          You seem to imply that either (a) she was actually doping and would have tested positive or (b) even if the tester had tried hard enough, she would have still refused to comply and would still have missed the test.

          • I’m “implying” only that if the tester had followed the latter of their testing procedure and still not got in contact with LA then she would now be banned, out of the Olympics and in disgrace.

  7. Thanks for the article. The line that was fed to the media has echoes of previous attempts by BC to paint a false picture – see the debate over Jess Varnish’s non-selection and Shane Sutton’s departure.

    One question – if there is no sanction for a single no show, is it possible to appeal it at that point?

    • “The line that was fed to the media has echoes of previous attempts by BC to paint a false picture – see the debate over Jess Varnish’s non-selection and Shane Sutton’s departure.”

      I wouldn’t call it a false picture in this case – to me it’s media management and maintenance of privacy while a case was ongoing. If BC were confident of winning then that’s the most sensible thing to do to not disupt preparations for the Olympics, given the vested interest they have which you’ve mentioned below.

  8. Aside from the specifics of this case, missed tests are an interesting one. I could well imagine that it’s another thing on top of everything else to remember and make sure you’re where you said you would be, and sometimes life does get in the way and things slip. I need to get up for work every Monday yet every once in a while forget to set my alarm, but I don’t think I do that 3 times a year, and if it meant I got sacked, I think I’d be more vigilant :-).

    However if I was a clean athlete, and my entire reputation/career hangs on not missing tests, I’d do everything possible to prioritize getting my whereabouts correct and making sure my phone was on for the 1 hour slot. There’s plenty of techniques/tactics you could employ to make sure you remember.

    • Don’t forget the false positive aspect here, people might also specify they’ll be at X place at Y o’clock only they’re not there for whatever reason but no testers showed up because out of competition tests are rare so nothing comes of messing up the ADAMS thing from time to time.

      As you suggest, if someone is on a second warning then they cannot afford to take this risk because their career and reputation is on the line.

      • Any idea if there is are mobile apps for ADAMS?

        If so I could imagine it being easy to write in a ‘Bat Phone’ feature that would allow a tester to press a button and send an alert to the athletes phone during the 1 hour window, an alert that makes a big loud noise regardless of whether you’ve set everything else to silent, should doorbells/hotel receptions/phone calls not do the job.

        Moreover the app could then send an acknowledgement back to say it received the alert and thus eliminate any “my phone was off” or “I had no reception” excuses.

        Although where does it stop? Broadcasting of location during the 1 hour window …. as a clean athlete what liberties would you give up to make it as hard for as possible your competition to miss a test on purpose?

  9. Making a mistake is bad enough but the attempt to cover things up makes it appear far worse. Not a good look for the athlete, for BC, for their member’s funds used on an athlete’s legals, nor for UKAD.
    Spare a thought for whomever missed out on an Olympic slot.

    • Actually the Olympic reference probably explains why BC got involved here but not in other cases: if the ban was upheld, they’d have to change their Olympic team in very short order, so they had more of an interest in this case than others.

  10. Surely there is a time limit on appealing non-shows?
    As regards the “false line” at La Course, there were other riders who decided not to ride La Course and gave Olympic preparation as a reason. The real question is whether it was the main reason or the secondary reason in Armistead’s case.
    On a secondary note, the UCI suspensions list has not been updated since July 4, and UKAD has a policy of not publishing names or details on ongoing cases including those under appeal and not publishing at all successful appeals or acquittals. That extends to all sports. British Cycling delegates all its anti-doping cases immediately to UKAD and has adopted its rules in its own rules.
    Tiernan Locke’s case was leaked as was Armitstead’s. British Cycling appears to have a mole who speaks to the Daily Mail and/or the Daily Telegraph when he/she knows something to the organisation’s detriment. See the flurry of stories concerning Shane Sutton’s departure and the Team GB kit.

    • Was it really leaked, or are the CAS proceedings normally public?

      So far as her reason for missing La Course is concerned, I’m afraid that “Olympic preparations” is false: the suspension meant that she couldn’t ride even if she wanted to.

      • CAS hearings aren’t normally public, but the results get published through media releases. The sentences are usually available on the website.
        However, I can’t see on the CAS website anything about the Amrmitstead decision nor about the date of the hearings. Unluckily, I don’t have much time to search more carefully.

        • They’re not very good at keeping their website up to date, but I suspect they publish their media releases in a more timely fashion.

          • CAS are _awful_ at keeping their website updated. Their archive of decisions doesn’t seem to have any case from cycling in it past 2013!

            Also, try find the Kittel decision on their site. I can’t. A german version is floating around online somewhere – but decisions are meant to be translated and published in English. Doesn’t seem to have been done.

            The sports press need to start kicking up a stink about the lack of follow-up at CAS on their _existing process_ on publishing decisions that are _years_ old.

          • @Paul Jakma
            Agree with what you’re saying here, but take into account that the archive is only for older cases, newer ones (albeit not very *fresh* in any case, like 2015 or so) are usually presented in a separate section.
            Besides, some materials are only published in English *or* in French and consequently appear only in their language’s version of the website.
            Inadequate level in 2016 for a world-wide working institution? Indeed.

          • @Paul Jakma
            Confidentiality, I guess (as it may happen when someone is acquitted under the defendant’s request, for example). I’d say that if I was acquitted, I’d like to have the reasoned decision public, but I suppose that many athletes have got a different POV on the subject… Maybe that’s what happened with Lizzie (but I’ve been out and not following any possible update lately).

          • Indeed. Paul could have read Megi’s comment – see below; written and published before Paul made his comments – and the quote from the the CAS rules of procedure.
            (In this particular case I could imagine that it was not Kittel who wished the decision to remain confidential…)

            PS I apologize for quoting my own reply in the comments section of a previous blog entry: I corrected a factual error or two in Paul’s comment which most likely has excaped his attention:
            “Let us remind of that “all the way” in this case means two steps of appeal: first to the Deutsches Sportschiedsgericht and the second to the Court of Arbitration in Sport. It was Kittel who appealed to the first and when the German sports court ruled in his favour the Nationale Anti Doping Agentur appealed to the CAS and lost again.”

        • Looking at the first half dozen or so of the CAS decisions, they all involve a doping sanction being upheld or reimposed. I have yet to find one where a doping sanction is removed as in Armitstead’s case.

          The answer may be in the extract below from CAS’ rules of procedure. I suspect there is a standing direction to the Division President that he/she publishes where the court decides a doping sanction should be in force after the hearing.

          “R43 Confidentiality

          Proceedings under these Procedural Rules are confidential. The parties, the arbitrators and CAS undertake not to disclose to any third party any facts or other information relating to the dispute or the proceedings without the permission of CAS. Awards shall not be made public unless all parties agree or the Division President so decides.”

    • Leaked or placed?

      Tiernan-Locke’s case emerged because he was picked for the GB team only a rule – since abolished – specified that any rider under investigation could not take part in the Worlds. So he was selected but had to be dropped late and this late change could not be explained away and from memory David Walsh asked why Tiernan-Locke was out and got the story.

      • You’re right about David Walsh – I’ve forgotten that. He heard something odd and dug until he found the truth, as any journalist would.
        In general, however, bad news about British Cycling comes out through the Telegraph or the Mail, neither of which cover cycling unless it involves scandal or a big major British success.

  11. Its an ill wind that blows nobody any good. This whole scenario sours my views about Armitstead. Now let me make it clear I have no reason to believe she has in any way illegally enhanced her performances but she seems a bit cavalier about the testing procedures. As INRNG says, very few athletes ever miss three tests within such a short time period (12 months). Its hard to do. She has also flown the coup to live in Monaco, which for a female cyclist is rare. Indeed, I thought they got paid peanuts? I guess not all female cyclists are created equal. Which brings us to how her recent disappearance seems to have been lovingly covered up by PR types and her post-case statement has clearly been written by some committee of goons expressing how anti-doping she is. And let’s not forget the public money that British cycling have spent defending her personally. Surely someone who lives in Monaco has a few spare pounds laying around the place?

    At the end of the day all this leaves a sour taste. Armitstead must still make it to October without another missed test or she will still get the ban as she has accepted two of the three strikes against her. But for that first tester not trying hard enough she’d be banned now. It beggars belief to be honest.

    • World Champion, winner of the Women’s World Cup and you want her living where? Do you have a problem with Geraint Thomas living in Monaco or do believe only women shouldn’t be rewarded for their endeavours?

      • I note it as a fact. You are free to draw whatever inferences about the facts that you like. However, the idea that the “World Champion” shouldn’t be slumming it with us mere ordinary folk because she’s now beyond us is odious.

        Where does Sagan live?

        • You seem to be complaining that she earns enough money to chose where she wants to live (and has chosen a place whee a lot of professional cyclists live). Do you think I have chosen to live in Russia to avoid slumming it with you ordinary folk or is it because of the clement weather, the extremely low tax rate or some other reason that is entirely my choice?

          • You seem to be arguing rich people can live where they like. You’re right. Its also true people can have opinions about it. So calm yourself comrade.

          • She’s also married to/engaged to Sky Pro Phil Deignan – this may be another significant factor in her choice of/ability to live in Monaco, No ?

        • Sagan lives mostly in Monaco.

          The point is that you used the Monaco reference to imply she was up to no good. Most female cyclists are not paid much, but she is probably the very highest paid of the lot. She’s also married to Philip Deignan who has lived there for several years. I’m not sure that her living in Monaco should count against her in this.

    • Pretty low blow to object to her living arrangements. For a start it’s very likely where her fiance lives as others have said, secondly I know where I’d rather train.
      Are women not allowed to evade tax because they earn less? “Flown the coop” seems a very strange expression, she’s not interned in the UK and so she hasn’t escaped to Monaco. A huge number of pros of both genders live and train around the south of France, and were she paid £15k a year it’d still go further if she registered in Monaco. Your post seems full of insinuation, but little of it seems to be about missed tests, instead you focus on ‘PR types’ and ‘not all female cyclists are created equal’ (as if ‘created’ is what determines their wages).
      Missing 3 tests stinks, but your problem seems to go a lot deeper than that. Saying ” You are free to draw whatever inferences” doesn’t excuse you from a charge of insinuation. If you’ve a problem with Armitstead qua Armitstead, why not come out and be clear? And if not, why couch it in the language you have?

      • Related to the replies above but not to the story… Should you be allowed to represent your country and benefit from taxpayers largesse if you choose to live elsewhere thus minimising or perhaps avoiding your financial obligations to that country ?

        • This is a different issue. Armitstead has long been known to be at loggerheads with UK Cycling and its policies, I’d consider it perfectly reasonable that she’d choose to minimize her relationship with those entities, and yet maintain a professional relationship that would enable her to participate and be competitive in national team events (WC, Olympics).

          She has limited support from UK Cycling, and she rides for non-domestic team. Still makes the selection based on her results. Based on your logic Messi wouldn’t play for Argentina’s soccer team because he doesn’t live there.

    • not sure what Monaco has got to do with anything – she’s never been ‘in the tent’ as far as British Cycling is concerned, not being a track lover, surely Monaco is a pretty common place to end up if you’re a world class cyclist who wants to train regularly on hilly warmer roads, and who happens to be engaged to another cyclist… totally irrelevant…

      ‘And let’s not forget the public money that British cycling have spent defending her personally’… I’m not sure this is the case either…

    • I think the comment about where she lives is pure whattaboutery.

      She lived in Otley for years. and often when I saw her train she had muppets trying to hold her wheel, take selfies and generally be a pain in the arse.

      I’d live in Monaco, if only to avoid having to ride through Keighley.

      • I suspect she was “Britain’s finest” on winning the world’s last year or the Tour of Flanders last April; now she appears to be “Monaco resident” for some in the wake of today’s news.

        • If she chooses to live in Monaco that makes her a “Monaco resident”. That’s just a fact. And its her choice to live there. Same applies to Froomey who has never ever chosen to live in the UK and on all evidence barely seems to set foot there.

  12. Great article as usual. I have a number of concerns.

    I remember hearing somewhere, cycling podcast maybe, that she was her own coach and she trained alone and kept her distance from the team. This now seems highly suspicious to me.

    We’ve also had the I was tested the next day so I’m clean defence, when we all know that’s just not true.

    Finally the fact that this period coincided with an extraordinary period of success.

    I don’t know the truth but I don’t think I can cheer for her on Sunday anymore.

  13. I’m pretty sure an Australian javelin thrower missed a drugs test when the athletics governing body filled in his room number incorrectly, and the testers went to a room that housed the wrong athlete. The difference is, this guy didn’t get off.

    • Filling in the paperwork correctly is the ultimate responsibility of the athlete. Following the procedure in trying to make contact with the athlete is the responsibility of the tester.

  14. I don’t really find not appealing the first missed test that amazing, considering the hassle that it probably would’ve entailed she probably thought “well i won’t miss anymore and it’ll be fine”, then even after her error causing to miss the 2nd test she probably thought the same thing, but then a family emergency cropped up and it all blew up in her face.

    Yes it doesn’t look great, and it’ll add fuel to the fire for the British Cycling haters, but there’s not really been anything else to raise suspicions about her, so i’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt (unless someone can point to something else?)

    The hush hush nature is a bit strange, but isn’t it UCI protocol to only notify riders/teams first to allow them to respond before publicly announcing a ban, and as it went to appeal/legal challenge they waited until now to announce?

    • “it’ll add fuel to the fire for the British Cycling haters”

      I’m not a BC hater, I believe my £42 annual silver membership which includes insurance is good value but can you appreciate that myself and possibly other BC members are NOT impressed with how our funds have been used to defend an Olympic hopeful?

      Mostly I feel for the likes of Laura Trott and the Barnes sisters who have to deal with the sponsorship backlash from this mess.

  15. There are no statistics available but a significant number of riders have missed a test or even two.

    That is a key point in my view. My guess is the number is not insignificant.

    I feel a lot of sympathy with the third occurrence. Get called up in the evening with someone saying your mother is seriously ill, for example, you worry about getting to see her rather than filling in your whereabouts. At work most employers will allow you to take emergency time off and fill in the forms later. I would hope, though, that the rule is applied consistently.

  16. Great article as always Inner Ring!

    Quick question someone might be able to help with here (and sorry if been answered already along the way); up until what point can an athlete update the ADAMS system with their whereabouts? Is it set in stone a year ahead or can it be updated a day before if there is a last minute change of plans?

    Not that this would seem to have helped in this instance (apart from maybe the third missed test) but I’d be interested to know whether this really is the timetabling nightmare we often hear about or merely a couple of minutes of time updating a webpage when schedules change.

    • Using a system called ADAMS – which can be updated at any time via an app, text message, website or email – they must nominate where they’ll be for one hour a day between 5am and 11pm. In each of those hour blocks, a doping control officer could turn up and demand a sample. (from the Guadian)

      • Exactly, there are emergency ways to update this right up until 1 minute before the slot.

        There’s also space for understanding, eg you say you’ll be at an airport hotel only your flight is diverted and spends 3 hours circling before landing elsewhere etc and there’s going to be an allowance here.

  17. On other ha ha Cycling websites, the readers have already built the gallows! the modern day equivalent of witch burning. We havn’t moved on have we some of us “humans”

    • And not just “other websites”. I’m seeing that quite a lot of riders have been pretty severe about it too. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot tweeted “Just shameful” (but in French).

      She’s not wrong.

  18. As I see it, British Cycling either believes Armitstead’s explanation or they don’t. If they believe it, they have to do anything in their power to protect their athlete who they believe is clean. That means defending her in CAS. As for the “hush” aspect, as long as UKAD is the prosecutor, it’s their responsibility to disclose the information that there’s an investigation.
    BC probably asked if LA wanted them to make a statement, and she responded that she didn’t want them to, so that she could focus on the olympics in peace

  19. I have been a fan of Armistead so willing to give her some benefit of the doubt, however she needs to be fully transparent about this ASAP.
    I think she should explain in a statement why she didn’t challenge the original missed test, what was the extent of the family emergency (you don’t need to say who or what exactly, but give details of travel times etc), and why she missed the third test, and had she missed tests before this 12 month period.
    I also think she should give details of other out of competition test she has had. If she was tested the week before the missed test I’m a little more able to forgive, but if those were the only out of competition tests then it starts to look very suspicious.
    Finally I don’t think a release of bio-passport data would be unreasonable. I am against this generally and it has been discussed here among other places the issues it creates. However Armistead now needs to go above and beyond what other athletes are expected. She is the world champion and one of the most successful racers this year and to protect that reputation she should be working triple hard.
    I’ll give her until after the Olympics for passport and other testing information but I would like to see a live statement/interview immediately.

    • Are women cyclists subject to the bio-passport programme? I didn’t think they were (although how they can compete for the 1 hour record without one, I don’t know)

      • Maybe not, but there must a least be a list of when she was tested and the results, even if it not review in the formal bio-passport system.
        My suggestion is purely from a supportive point of view. As inrng points out being tested the next day is not the same thing and not an excuse. However if she could show that she was subject to 5-10 other out of competition tests in the last year then I would be more willing to forgive her mistakes.

      • Women in professional and elite ranks are also subject to bio passport and it has been a requirement for elite hour records for the last year or two, same as for the men. It makes it even more expensive for an amateur to attempt an hour record as cost is approx $10k to establish a bio passport.

      • There’s no bio passport as a matter of course for the women at the moment – if they want to do the Hour, they have to pay themselves to join it.

        • There’s no bio passport for women? So what good are the tests then? We’re living in a 2016 world with pre-2008 testing procedures for the women’s pro peloton?

        • I’ve had a pro women cyclist tell me differently. She claims she was subject to the exact same regime, including bio passport, as the elite men.

  20. Vinokourov winning the gold medal in the Men’s RR at the London Olympics was an unmitigated PR disaster for the sport. Now this. Is it any wonder that doping and pro cycling are virtually synonyms as far as the general public is concerned.

    • No wonder, indeed: if a supposed fan can write such a post, imagine what “the general public” could end up doing…

      Obviously, this goes along with the failure in noticing that the treatment received by cycling all over generalist media might hold some relation with “the general public” struggling to understand to what extent doping and *pro sports* are nearly synonyms.

      • I dunno. Only a real fan would look past Festina, Puerto, Landis, and Armstrong (to name a few) to see Vinokourov’s 2012 gold as the PR problem for cycling.

      • How did come out that the first missed test was improperly conducted? Ukad don’t know and it wasn’t challenged sooner.

        So what did LA know and when – what is an athlete told about their missed tests? Is it simply the fact or a full account of the attempted test?

        Either LA learnt something later that Ukad don’t know, tried it on or knew all along the process wasn’t followed so must’ve been aware of the tester’s presence…how did she decide or know to challenge it, but let it stand until it was nearly too late (a gamble).

        Lots more questions than answers here of LA as she is ultimately accountable.

  21. You say as a fact that BC funded her appeal to CAS. Could you cite your source for this please?

    CyclingNews says “Armitstead’s statement also thanked British Cycling for their support. The governing body has said that they did not put any funds into supporting Armitstead’s defence but had sought their own legal advice in the event that the appeal was unsuccessful and she was banned, which would have forced them into selecting an alternate rider for the Olympic Games. ”

    Any reason to believe BC are lying when they say this?

      • No, you’re just guessing at that.

        It is said in a few places that she had her own lawyers, but they shared information with BC’s lawyers. There’s not much evidence she got anything for free.

        • Although you in turn (unless directly involved) are guessing that if the BC lawyers came up with any good points they did not share that with Armitstead’s advisers. Which would be odd, if true.

  22. What I find interesting in the Lizzie Armistead story is that her reinstatement took less time than her actual suspension. When athletes encounter the rules and regulation of the system, news stories often describe a lengthy waiting time for a hearing and outcome. Not in this case!

    • Yes, CAS was apparently very fast. I can’t find the normal material they publish on their website reporting the decision, or the scheduled hearings and so on… Will we see anything at all? After or before the Olympics?
      However, as I was commenting elsewhere… welcome to the politics of an OY.

  23. Just when you let your guard down, another shock. As said above there is nothing concrete but a lot of inferences can be made. Frankly us as fans are not stupid and are able to draw conclusions! Eg somebody retweeted her tweet from that morning, saying she was having breakfast (posted using her iPhone!)

    I would assume that during training, a World Champion would train daily. Would they miss 3 sessions in a year? Doubtful

    • ah yes, found what you’re referring to

      shows as 12:42 am – 20 Aug 2015. i assume that’s my time gmt+12 whereas sweden is gmt+1 so that would make it 1:42pm 19 Aug sweden time (odd time for breakfast)? i might be getting that wrong but i’m not sure how it would be 6am 20 Aug when the tester showed up anyway.

      does raise the interesting fact though that anyone trying to hide their activities while maintaining the public interaction required for sponsorship faces a tricky balance.

      i do generally agree that there is a bit of an bad smell to the whole thing…

      • I don’t know what’s wrong with your time math, but I’m in same timezone as Sweden and to me the tweet’s rime is shown as 9:42 AM, which is reasonable time for breakfast. Sweden is on UTC+2 btw, Daylight saving that time of the year

  24. Aren’t testers obliged to try for an hour (or is it two?), to try and get hold of an athlete, having to make regular attempts to contact them. This is what I read during the Mo Farah doorbell incident.
    Is this what is meant by procedural error? The article doesn’t seem sure that anymore attempts were made. And surely, it’s pretty straight forward to find out, checking phone records to see how many attempts were made to contact her.
    Also I am thinking, maybe too much, but if you are trying to contact an athlete on their mobile phone, would you not leave a message? Especially if it is that important.

    • I wonder if UKAD should publicise officer mobile phone numbers to UK athletes in the ADAMS system? At least that way you can enter them as contacts in your own mobile phone with a very loud ring tone and have them identified properly.

      • Wouldn’t that (and leaving a message) simply turn the tests into announced tests? A doped athlete could let the call go to voicemail, take whatever counter-measures are necessary (saline drip to dilute traces of whatever it is), and then answer the next call.

        • True – will be interesting to find out from CAS what the UKAD officer mis-managed and therefore became grounds for overturning the first missed test. Seems to me a grey area and specific procedures for gaining access to hotels not mentioned in the standards document therefore likely to be an internal guidance, if at all.

  25. Just reading a little in to the background of out-of-competition testing and it seems that the most an athlete will get tested is between 3-10 x times in a 12 month period.
    So, even if she was tested at the upper end of this spectrum, it would still be about a 33% no show.
    Which, at best, seems utterly careless and, at worst, well….

    • Thinking about it, I’m not surprised that they get tested so little, I guess you just imagine that they get tested on a much more regular basis.
      It’s difficult to imagine being so careless as to miss something that you only have to do less than once a month, especially as it’s so important.

    • i don’t know about the numbers but it sounds plausible and this is certainly the core of determining what 3 missed tests means. if its as you say then dodgy and she is very lucky the tester messed up one of them.

      of course she’s still on 2 misses until August 20. if wada or any willing agency has suspicions then she should have some more testing in the next 2 weeks…

      • quote from LA ““I’m one of the most tested athletes in the world. I’ve been tested at least 16 times this year.”
        aside from similarities to statements from the other LA, given how successful she is you would imagine quite a few of those are from testing of podium riders, plus maybe some other scheduled/predictable tests so suggests max 10 out of competition, random tests. so yes, 3 missed tests even with reasonable excuses is quite a high proportion.

        “this year” probably means 8 months, but the misses were late august to early june so <10 months. for a statement like that to have any credibility in this context it would need to be "I’ve been randomly out of competition tested at least 16 times this year." as it is, just smacks of obscuring the truth with true but misleading statements

        • As far as I know, the winner of any race is always tested. She won about 8 races in that period where she missed the 3 tests. Therefore, at least 8 (probably more, because she also had a few podiums) of those 16 are In Competition. So that leaves max 8 Out of Competition tests, or 11 including the 3 missed ones. 3 missed out of (max) 11 is a *minimum* of 27% missed. Oops.

        • »quote from LA ““I’m one of the most tested athletes in the world. I’ve been tested at least 16 times this year.”«

          Note to all cyclist, or ebetter all athletes: don’t ever use that phrase gain, it’s tainted like a colony of zika-flys bathed in a sea of HIV and wil make you look untrustworthy immediately. Regardless if your initials match with LA or XY.

  26. Dumb af.

    She, her team, her federation. None of them thought to appeal.


    People should be fired, surely? They’ve just let an athlete down hugely, the federation should have some sort of disciplinary hearing for athlete mismanagement.

    (assuming she’s not guilty that is…)

  27. if my memory is correct, Mo Farah – missed 2 or 3 tests, with dubious reasons (one being, he was in a part of his London home, where he couldn’t hear he doorbell) Christine Oghuru missed 3 and was banned, now this.

    You’d think, BC, would be more clear with reasons and details, following when Varnish got Sutton.

    If you submit yourself to ADAMS system, then why would any seasoned professional cyclist, (who’s notified them of the whereabouts, and been tested before) then turn their phone off?
    They’d know the implications.

    That part smells.
    Everyone makes mistakes, so let’s hope BC, recoup their legal investment, by way of a gold medal.
    It’s irrelevant, where LA resides – her personal life, is exactly that, personal.
    Unless she lives on Mount Terride ?

  28. Definitely not a good look for the WC-The list of queries about this have been expertly described here.

    For me, the combination of
    (a) her non challenge of 2 missed tests- already a serious problem
    (b) her late challenge of the 3rd test (the first one in the series) AFTER missing the other 2
    (c) the fact that she is she is her own coach, able to act independently with zero broader oversight
    (d) the fact that as an experienced, very well compensated cycling professional (relative to her peers) there is no excuse for missing 2-3 tests when her colleagues rarely ever miss one…
    and (e) her exceptional performances during that period…
    All really raises my suspicions-

    We have all been here before and its never a fun place to be…

    Of course we must presume her to be innocent, but this does nothing for her credibility. I agree with Bilmo’s call for a LOT more transparency from LA would be very helpful here. In this case, we do not even need to see power data- Just a boarding pass for the R/T flights to attend to her family member would not violate anyone’s confidentiality and would give her (and her story) a massive amount of credibility, no?

    You can’t disprove a negative, but you can back up your story with hard facts, not just PR Bluster

    LA likes to say that she champions clean cycling, well, now she has placed herself in the position where she will need to provide more concrete proof of that commitment than her present approach of “Trust me”…

  29. Regarding the “Hush Hush” aspect: the UKAD statement is quite clear that they will not publish details of cases until they are resolved. This is also made explicit in their rules: ref 7.9.7, 14.1.2 –

    Paragraphs 8.4.2 and 13.8.2 also make it clear that they will not publish details of cases where the athlete is cleared without their consent, so clearly Armitstead must have consented.

    The list of provisional suspensions on the UCI website states: “This table lists the license-holders currently serving a provisional suspension as a consequence of a potential or asserted anti-doping rule violation over which the UCI has results management authority. Provisional suspensions imposed by other anti-doping organisations are not included in this list.”

    The inference is that UCI does not have “results management” over UKAD cases, but what exactly does “results management” mean in this context? However, we must also assume that UKAD would have notified the UCI of the provisional suspension as an interested party, in order for the suspension to be enforced.

    I don’t blame Armitstead for feeding the journalists a line – she has a right to protect her reputation.

    Not that this answers all the questions around the case.

      • Thanks. That does at least explain why the provisional suspension wasn’t listed on the UCI website. If nothing else!

        Personally, I’m in favour of not publishing details of ongoing cases, though I can also see why it leads to accusations of covering up.

  30. On a positive note – even if things aren’t perfect (and never will be) we definitely have progress. The other LA wouldn’t have been able to run such heavy ‘medical program’ with todays testing regimen. Some athletes still cheat, there may even be some institutional micro-dosing programs in operation. But it is harder to get away with it, and the benefits are lower.

    • Oh, he would, he would – if in today’s world you imagine him to be as *well connected* to several powers as he was during his era…

      He *did* test positive (and worse than that), after all.

      Besides, the bio passport (to name one) has more than one discretionary aspect allowing the institutions to manage the process. And surprise testing – for surprise’s sake, I guess? – aren’t carried on following any undisclosed principle, which again would give space and time enough to do whatever you please without utter pressure. You just need a bit of complicity in the right institutions (a lot of teams had something like that, besides Lance’s, along the whole history of cycling) – and, well, Lance had way more than just a bit. A bit might be enough, anyway – nonetheless, if you’ve got *a lot*, you can walk through whatever antidoping furnace without being scorched.

  31. One question is: Where did the leak to the media about the CAS appeal come from.

    Why bother going to the lengths of lying to the media about your reasons for not entering a race, only to have your cover blown and then face the double hit of being provisionally banned and lying about it.

  32. Noooo – Not another administrative error? I heard a Eurosport Commentator call Simon Yates dope positive being called “An adverse analytical finding due to an administrative error” i nearly choked on my sarnie!

    UK Cycling can really do without this fog!

    I hope we arent all being taken for mugs again!

    • The bungling of Yates was done by (then called) Orica-Greenedge, nothing to do with British Cycling. It was referred to as “An adverse analytical finding due to an administrative error” because that’s exactly what it was – he tested positive for an asthma product that he usually had a TUE for, but Orica managed not to get the TUE paperwork in on time. The whys and wherefores of TUEs and Asthma products and the prevalance of exercise-induced asthma are another story.

  33. As a Yorkshire cyclist I find this interesting and reminiscent of the past.

    How, as a fan, can I have been kept unaware of the missed tests?

    Why do the media conspire to keep secrets – Phil and Paul revisited – or why are teams / federations spinning to keep athletes untarnished and the press just accepting this?

    It breaks my heart but she should be suspended. Professionalism extends beyond training.


      • None of it should be kept private. All missed tests of pro athletes should be available in a public database. And the funny thing is if they were LA would surely have been much better motivated to query it earlier.

  34. Three missed tests in 12 months – racing for a Belgium team and living with a Professional who knows the system !!!! Really. I am afraid, given the history of the sport, we are all allowed to draw our own conclusions.

    For me, it is an unacceptable and troubling situation which raises too many questions. I will no longer admire any performance or results Armitstead produces.

    • Anon. People don’t ‘love a good scandal’, they simply get fed up to the back teeth with a sport continuously shooting itself in the foot. I am sure most posters here would rather the sport could somehow move on from the endless questions and doubts that some of it’s practitioners seem determined to raise.

      • BC, ask the person who passed on the information to the Daily Mail, maybe he/she loves a good scandal. Also, there is a wider world outside of this blog.

      • +1 How can people who tout the importance of “marginal gains” and similar claptrap, the ones who micro-manage every aspect of their training to attain perfection, the ones who obsess about every detail and explain that’s what it takes to win…become so child-like when other aspects of their careers (like properly completing the ADAMS details) need to be managed? This despite often having “managers” to handle these things for them.
        I have no idea whether this woman is hiding anything or not, but it’s hard to believe it’s all innocent and a mistake after the same excuses have been used for years to explain away what we later learned was far from innocent. Too often the big stars of the sport dance away from scandals that would put the little-fish out of the sport for years…and then they wonder why there’s so much cynicism from the public?

        • Full ACK, especially the first paragraph……tell the world how pro you are with the “marginal gains” but couldn’t deal with the ADAMS system on your phone for 3 times is pathetic.

  35. Will be interested to see the Reasoned Decision for this one. The story of the tester who showed up and asked for a room number without explanation seems hard to believe. If true then it shows a disturbing lack of competency.

    • The guidelines specifically require testers not to reveal to 3rd parties too eagerly that they are testers for the obvious implications (athletes could be warned and magically evaporate or chug a last ditch water container).

      He called by the end of the slot, which is not required and certainly a courtesy. She didn’t have the phone on in the one (1) hour she herself specified. I don’t quite see how the tester is lacking in competency.

      • Sorry but that is rubbish.

        In fact, gaining access seems to be down to the voracity of the individual tester and they have to clearly show credentials and a passport. Beggars belief really that there is no committed set procedure for gaining access to an athlete’s hotel room.

        If UKAD knew the missed test was on shakey ground as regards access, why did they go ahead with the violation knowing it could be turned over at CAS? Seems to me they didn’t check properly with their officer that ALL means necessary had been taken, which is incompetent.

        • It certainly could be down to incompetence. Other thing that struck me was that from reading the accounts (and there is some ambiguity), Armistead didn’t appeal the first test but engaged her legal advisers late around or after the third test. It’s possible that they looked at the three tests and decided that the first test was the most challengeable. At that point they’re turning the clock back to the first (previously unchallenged) test so it might not be that the officer didn’t make the necessary efforts, it might just be that – with the burden of proof and the spot-light of some top-drawer lawyers upon them – they weren’t able to get the necessary level to demonstrate that was the case.

          The Cyclingtips article is really interesting but the use of the phrase “it seems..” suggests no great insider knowledge of the specifics of the case.

  36. If Lizzie Armitstead tests positive or has another doping problem in future, and I were Dani King, I would be very bitter. King is according to the Guardian first reserve for the GB Olympic women’s team.
    British Cycling has been under heavy fire for its treatment of women recently, which may have prompted its kid gloves approach,

  37. Perhaps, rather than being Armstrong-incarnate, she is simply a ‘bit thick’?

    Missing tests does not constitute doping, it simply shows that she is not overly switched on when it comes to keeping her whereabouts up-to-date.

    I’d be curious to know how many tests she actually undertook. To base a micro dosing regime on deliberately missing an out of competition test would seem the absolute worst way to dope!

    • Micro dosing EPO only makes up a small part of PEDs. For a one day race you could take a stimulant early race day morning with a half life such that you’ll be ok should you podium and get tested after the race. Just imagine if you could random test cyclists half way though Worlds or Flanders, for sure you’d find traces of more than Beta Alinine, baking soda and beetroot juice in a couple piss tests.

      Sadly we are now really seeing the wrong kind of equality in cycling.

  38. No, really, imagine she was Russian and the national government body would help her to discreetly solve the matter as happened here. Everybody would be enraged, shouting “cover up and doping!”

    Irrespective of any faults on side of the testing official, LA has messed up and has to stand up and take responsibility for that. Everybody who messes up on the job has to do that (besides banker, I fear), just ask Offredo, who had the form of his life before tripping over three missed tests.

    It is irrelevant if she is clean or not, if this might be an indication of micro dosing or not, but the whole case has been handled very badly. It smells of favouritism and hypocrisy.

    • As noted above, according to the WADA investigation, if she was Russian, RUSADA would have given her advance warning of the test. The issue would never have arisen, if that’s true.

      Mind you, it might not be true. Has a Russian been sanctioned for whereabouts violations?

      • Nick, I do not doubt the words of Mr. Stepanov, and in Russia RUSADA would have given our hypothetical athlete, if she was as good as LA, an advance warning. Still a Russian athlete might have accumulated three no shows on the road outside of Russia. So the issue might still have arisen despite state funded and covered practices in Russia. Since Ms. Armitstead was supposed to be tested in Sweden and neither in the UK nor Monaco for her first no show. But for an exercise, insert any former Soviet state instead of Russia, maybe every other East block state, the public outcry would have been bigger, with less people willing to defend the athlete and quoting “rules are rules”, etc.

        This whole affair reminds me of the Contador Steak. That case only got public as the press threatened to publish the positive before the official authorities. Here too, it was only published as the (favourable) CAS decision was passed. And this is where it gets murky.

  39. Froome’s missed tests.

    Farah’s missed tests.

    Now Armistead’s missed tests.

    Pattern? Yes. None were banned.

    It’s easy to pass tests when you can pick and choose which ones to take and which ones to miss.

    • Froome has only missed two tests in his entire career, both five years apart.

      And are you trying to pretend there aren’t lots of athletes worldwide who have missed a couple of tests in a decade? Clearly there must be, or there wouldn’t be the requirement of three missed in 12 months to trigger a ban.

    • With regards Froomes missed test it appears it was along similar lines to the one Armistead has appealed (as I read in Nicole Cookes statement – that’s a thinly vieled dig at LA!).
      Apparently he tried to appeal but I couldn’t find the result. Interesting if his appeal failed by LA’s didn’t.

      • Froome was quoted in interviews saying that his appeal was not successful, he accepts that ultimately it is the athletes responsibility, and that he should have been more proactive in making sure the front desk was aware that early morning visitors from the testers should be sent up to the room.

        In his case, it was a private holiday rather than a team booking, so the onus to do this was on him alone.

  40. BC say they didn’t pay for her defence, they ‘shared’ their legal advice and LA “funded” her appeal.

    Which seems massively disingenuous.

    I translate that as “BC paid thousands for legal counsel, LA paid the CAS Appeal fee”.

    Her press release could have written by a Lance PR – combative, aggressive and blaming the agency (“look forward to working with them to improve…”).

    I also personally don’t buy what CAS accepted- that if you have a 6am whereabouts slot it’s acceptable to turn your phone off.

    Not only am I British. I’m from the same county as Lizzie and was a fan before she started winning everything. As far as I’m concerned this stinks, and I no longer have any faith in her performances.

  41. Armistead might as well forget racing in Rio, she will do nothing! When you let off a grenade in a pig sty, your gonna come out covered in some s**t. What a monumental all round cock up this is.

  42. She should have been banned. And I’d have considered myself a fan. I don’t genuinely believe she’s doped but she’s been very dopey. The incompetence is just unbelievable. Especially given the timing with the Olympics coming up. How can she miss the last 2 tests.
    But she’s missed them and should serve a ban harsh as it seems. The rules are lax enough already. Instead we have this suspicion and hints of double standards.

    • I believe that is the policy. Same with any other oddities E.g. in his autobiography, Charlie Wegelius says after he was able to show he had naturally very high haemocrit which could edge over 50% when he was very well rested, he got tested very regularly.

    • It should have been, yes. So probably not ironic that the tests happened after the first ‘missed’ test.

      Though, i guess it would be ironic if UKAD’s apparent ‘failure’ to conduct the first test properly resulted in testers getting more information about her than they would have done if it had been carried out properly!

  43. When discussions about these off competition controls spring up, whatever they are about, I can have only one thought. What modern law system can force a citizen to communicate his whereabouts and give his availability in such a manner? How is possible this to happen in our civilization?

    • This isn’t the law, just a set of shared rules for sport. If people don’t like these rules, they can find other activities or work as mentioned in the piece above they may also have to account for their presence at work or how they spend their time during the week. There was supposed to be a serious legal challenge to Whereabouts led by the Belgian sports lawyer Kristof De Saedeleer but it all went quiet.

    • because you accept the terms when you sign up. My employment has periods when I am on-call overnight; that means no alcohol, phones turned on, being at home or local and ready and able to get into work or wherever they send me when the phone rings at stupid o’clock.

      • Yes, I understand perfectly about rules for a given job. But in this case I see two issues. First is a full fledged “guilty even in lack of proof” behavior. That should be not acceptable by any standard in my opinion. Just think about how incredibly thin privacy issues are raised to incredible levels.
        Second one is availability window, it would be like to be indefinitely on-call, no work contract should include that.
        Desire of justice should not be outside of right.

        • I don’t think you understand the reasons why out of competition testing is required, nor the way in which athletes routinely attempt to walk around even these rules (see: Chris Horner post Vuelta). If you’ve not read The Secret Race you should do so.

          The rules, while being particular, give the athlete enormous flexibility of when they can be contacted – they just have to choose 1 hr a day which works best for them. As Hamilton explains, choosing a time in the morning has great benefits. And, as Cooke has pointed out, given that your livelihood depends on it you make sure you are available. Most athletes appear able to comply with these rules, and have been agreed with governing bodies, so why do you think your ‘invasion of privacy’ stacks up as a defence for Armitstead?

    • What about forcing somebody to wear the same outfits? I guess it’s 0k for men, we don’t mind, but for women? I know my wife would go ballistic if a coworker of hers would come in the office wearing the same clothes.

  44. The expediency that this has been dealt with and the support she’s received really give me pause about BC. I can understand the rush by LA given the threat to her Olympic hopes, but actually BC, UCI and CAS should not show any haste given the situation.

    Once is unlucky, twice is stupid and three times unforgivable. Even if you believe the first to be a mistake on the UKADs part you shouldn’t let it get to a third. As a result she should miss the Olympics if only to hammer home the seriousness of her failings. She has got off on a technicality and if she thought that they had gotten the first failed test wrong then when she failed the second she should’ve appealed it then.

    To be honest this does not surprise me, as anti-doping is a band-aid to an amputation. But even for sports own good it should not tolerate failures of protocols.

  45. One aspect of this Lizzie Armistead case that is barely mentioned is that she has a very significant other in her life: her future husband Team Sky rider Philip Deignan.

    The couple will have spoken at great length about these missed tests. And he would have advised her on the best action to take, in order to avoid this situation as her worst possible outcome.

    Despite advice from her husband-to-be, Armitstead still ended up entering the top <1% of UK (and global) riders to have ever missed 3 tests. Remarkable.
    She states she didn't challenge the 2nd missed test due to the legal cost to do so. The combined income of two of the UK's most successful cyclists cannot raise the £money to protect their career.

    Deignan may be considered a "second tier" rider in Team Sky- a great achievement nonetheless. Except so was Tiernan-Locke.
    If this latter point seems tenuous, one thing we've learned over these last 20 years is that nearly all doping involves multiple parties (the lover, the coach, the teammates, the doctor etc.)

    • Deignan replied to a “just shameful” tweet from Pauline Ferrand-Prevot with a pretty nasty personal dig at PFP which, in the way of social media, backfired spectacularly and has now been deleted.

      In interviews the UKAD director also made the point referred to by RQS below, that LA could have appealed directly to them but chose not to, and has pointedly said they are waiting to read the CAS decision.

  46. She has released a statement on her twitter feed (can’t post the link as Twitter is blocked at work).

    What I find weird in this, along with many other excuses you hear about miss tests, is that the testers always seem to come on the day that an athlete has changed their plans at the last minute. Never the day before or the day after. How unlucky!!

    • There are probably many occasions where the athlete has changed their plans at the last minute, forgotten to change their ‘Whereabouts’…….and then later, when realising their error, breathed a sigh of relief that the Tester hadn’t gone to where they were not.

      The only one to know would be the athlete…..and they are not going to report that….are they?

  47. Interesting article on the Cycling News website which says an athlete can contest a ‘no-show’ with the anti-doping authority without taking it to CAS, at anytime. Puts a different perspective on her Dad’s claim that she didn’t want to spend the money on legal fees at that stage. It really does look like she was looking for the chink in the armour to get past.

  48. The Daily Mail “broke” this story, now their filling their pages with follow up stories in LA’s defence. I must subscribe to this wonderful newspaper, I really am missing out.

    • I’ve just read her unedited statement which is full of self-justification. Though given her familiarity with the whereabouts rule since the age of 18 it seems weird and suspicious that in a year of great success for her personally she should suddenly start to suffer with the process.

      Which ever way you turn this, she has let herself down badly and no amount of self-righteous explanation should enable her to walk away from this undamaged. She had plenty of opportunities to get this right, and has singularly failed.

      I’m not getting into the debate of whether she doped, but her ‘commitment’ to anti-doping seems a little more forceful in words than it does in actions, and regardless, I think she should not be going to the Olympics for many reasons, and one in particular is that it makes any ban on a Russian seem massively hypocritical at this point in time.

      If you are reading Lizzie, that may be hard to take, but you should have taken your commitment more seriously at the time. There will be lots of athletes tested both in and out of competition at Rio and it would appear they have met their commitments. The cost of your admin failure should be there for all to see if you are committed to a clean and fair sport.

  49. Whilst I appreciate her statement I can’t help but feel it is filled with excuses.

    I’m a big fan of Lizzie but this whole episode doesn’t paint her in a great light. After 2 strikes her only action was to have some bloke ring her to make sure she was keeping her whereabouts up to date. She then uses him leaving British Cycling and not been notified as an excuse when in reality this would not have changed the circumstances of her third strike would it?

    Surely it would have better to eradicate the first strike at that point and getting legal advice? Then brush off the second strike because she is not a robot when it appears you can update your location literally a minute before so that doesn’t wash with me especially given she’d received a strike which she wrote to appeal at the time. You’d think she’d be on the ball and even more so when she was on two strikes.

    I mean at that point her whole livelihood is on the line if you get a third strike. Wouldn’t you do everything to make sure that didn’t happen until the 12 month period past?

    Playing devil’s advocate this out of competition testing is open to abuse and those not playing by the book can reduce chance of been caught with careful planning and misdirection – you make sure you’re clean at competitions as you’re likely to be tested if you podium, out of competition you hope they don’t come a knocking when you’re glowing and if they do you ignore them/ask receptionist/neighbour/family member to tell them you’re not there or allow them access. You then ensure you get clean either waiting until you’re not glowing or saline drip etc. to flush your system.

    Does anyone know with these out of competition testers, do they have to knock or can they grab you in the street or out on a training ride etc. As surely it would be better to get the completely unaware.

  50. apparently, LA has now posted a full “explanation” on facebook, including more comments on how much she is tested without mentioning how many were unexpected out of competition tests. good to read above that she was tested several times following the first miss, although unclear if this was within the race she was in sweden for.

    most worrying though, she states she did appeal the first missed test at the time, but was rejected. this contradicts her previous statements and also statements from UKAD… someone is being very loose with the truth so regardless of whether any drugs have been in play, most of the parties involved look very bad.

    the funny thing is, LA herself says the rio course is too hard for her to be a contender!

    • Even if she isn’t a contender, she can play a significant role, especially in small Olympic teams.
      Tony Martin for sure isn’t a contender in Germany’s men’s squad, but having him on board or not in a 4 (or 5?) team makes a difference.

      • Four men team, but in this special case, Tony M. has to count for two, because there is some glitch in the rules allowing starters for the road race also to start on the track, and since there is nearly no chance of the German team to win a medal in the road race, they opted to take an additional track sprinter along. Not sure if he is even starting the event. And if he should he will pretty early pull out after a light training ride.

  51. It looks bad enough that the world champion missed 3 tests in a 12 month period, but to have British Cycling taking sides instead of staying neutral during the suspension and appeals processes makes British Cycling look exactly like what Evie and Cummings said it was: a croney-istic and capricious organization playing favorites to the detriment of others. Where’s David Cameron when you need him?! Thanks alot all you pro-Brexit voters!

  52. Speed, secrecy, a rule bent out of shape – it is a stitch-up. The reputations of CAS and GB Cycling are sullied but they are organizations and impersonal –the individual standing of this world champion has been forever diminished.

    Not to have applied the rules does her no favours.

    Now she will have to shoulder the lifetime suspicions -Is she thick and genuine or shifty and a cheat? Inevitably all her sporting achievements carry a mental asterisk.

    • The rules were applied. However, applying the rules meant that the first ‘miss’ didn’t count because of unspecified failures on the part of UKAD, so she’s still on two.

      The real problem here is CAS’s secrecy and tardiness in publishing its judgements.

  53. Given what we know now, the semantics of the case are interesting. Test 2 wasn’t even a “missed test”.

    Interesting that the ADAMS system does not have fail-fast logic loop to highlight to the user that there is an immediate discrepancy in the input. i.e your overnight location does not match early morning time slot. Not exactly helpful is it although I guess strict liability is forced here as well. A system that is designed to fail?

  54. Good article, thanks.

    I think that the obvious might just be true and if you were a dodgy micro doser trying to avoid the system it seems clear you would have challenged the first test and you would not have the hotel’s front desk involved in your conspiracy.

    The great storm of ‘questions that must be asked’ might well have the mundane but ultimately shabby answer of foolishness on the part of an athlete who has invigorated and been a catalyst in the growth of women’s cycling, which seems a great shame.

    If there is one truth to emerge from all this it is the undeniable fact that more bike riding less twittering for some would be a good thing. It will be a difficult in Rio if she still rides which I can’t help but think might now not happen.

  55. She has been very lucky to escape a ban.

    I have sympathy for her but the trouble is there isn’t a way to tell between a genuine excuse and a lie – dopers at this point have used every “genuine” excuse I can think of, many of them very plausible.
    British Cycling would have been better to have put all their effort into making sure she was in the right place when she was supposed to be waiting to be tested, rather than getting this overturned – it isn’t great for their image to have links to a technical overturning of a ban and LA will always carry a shadow over her achievements, sadly for her (self inflicted though it is).

    • No… we’re almost at 250 on “reengineering the Tour de France”

      Definitely a record for a piece that focuses on a woman cyclist however.

      It’s funny how the posting volumes contrast with the material… some of my favourite pieces are the “Roads to Ride”, undeniably positive and makes you want to be out on your bike (thanks to which I discovered the Passo delle Erbe myself, this summer, for example)…but comment volumes are low.

  56. Which is funny as it is essentially a Non story. there is nothing going on! if you think Lizzie is a secret doper then you need to get out on your bike, that’s even if your actually interested in bikes or cycling.

  57. It’s anything but a ‘non-story’. It’s about her doing her job. As Inrng puts it, if she can’t be bothered with the ‘whereabouts’ stuff she can go and do a normal job.

    The whereabouts rule is to help enforce out of competition testing, which is far more important than in-competition testing. It is more serious than refusing to give a specimen after winning an event because it’s likely to be the only time the athlete can be caught with the drugs in their system.

    I think you should go for a ride and think about that.

  58. A video interview with LA by the BBC where she again repeats the explanations given previously for missing tests and talks about the impact of the affair on her reputation.

    She’s bang on the money about the fact that she’ll struggle to regain trust and winning a medal on Sunday will inevitably bring more even more suspicion.

    What frustrates me about her comments is that she comes across as very self pitying tone, she fails to acknowledge that by her actions (careless or something more sinister) she has brought the whole women’s peloton under suspicion, damaged the reputation of British sport and British Cycling (although they once again seem to have helped themselves).

    LA talks again refers to family medical emergency and whilst I respect her right to privacy in that matter, I wish the interviewer had pressed her on why she couldn’t have taken 30 seconds to send a text or used the ADAMS system?

    • Needed a better interviewer, but then again LA may not have agreed to be interviewed if that was the case.

      In a weird way if LA did win, and then failed a test later in life, or missed three legit tests, that might help flesh out the current system, which seems it could do with some improvements.

      • It’s interesting how there’s so many distraction techniques employed by LA. Appeals for sympathy and comments which give greater room for interpretation into events. But no answers to the real questions.
        Why has she suddenly developed a problem with the Whereabouts testing?
        When is there ever a family emergency which doesn’t allow you to update your whereabouts on ADAMS? Or that she could not remain where she was until that window passed and THEN get to the family emergency?
        Why when you are sitting on two missed tests do you put your whole career on the line for something which has not been fatal to her nearest and dearest?

        Given that she has tried ‘answer’ suspicions about the tests she has delivered very little but a mountain of excuses. I find the reaction from some that there is a problem with the system troubling. The UKAD is a professional organisation. They don’t hire testers from Reed they train them and give them a lot of responsibility and in defending herself LA has trashed their reputation. Many athletes use the ADAMS system on a daily basis and treat it with due respect. LA, at best, has been very casual about its use. She then expects us to believe that a ‘family emergency’ meant that she missed another test and wants us to her credit her with being honest without crediting us with the ability to treat it sensitively. Each time LA wants us to give masses of latitude over something few have failed.

  59. The lawyer who got LA off is Mr Dubious from Manchester. I think it is pretty obvious she is guilty of cheating. She got off because she is too high profile, with a good legal team I thought she was a great cyclist, not anymore. The Olympic Games will be riddled with drug cheats, so nothing has changed. Sad times

  60. Regarding Chris Froome, he trains with the Kenyans, most of the high profile Kenyans have been caught cheating. Then we have Mo Farah another dubious athlete who trains in Kenya. And of course Salazar in America. It makes you wonder who is clean.

  61. Interesting

    first Yates, now Amisted… doping violations but no real sanctions – that would never have happed with a german or scandinavian based federation.

    Brits (just like US riders pre 2012) ‘never dope’ and they ‘newer have issue with their where abouts, and when they do the get off the hook’. Sky’s ‘maginal gains’ and out-of -no-where successes during the last 5 years. Current UCI president is too tied with British Cycling and Team sky + elected by votes AND mony of the russian federation, putin and ian markov.
    Big mony wins… i’m just waiting for the day when they are exposed – its US Postal / Lance Amrstrong all over again. NO credibility.

    – Alex Rasmussen got a 18 month suspension for missing his where abouts, no one on the inside ever belived he has never been even near anything suspicous. He was just a messy fiddle head who didn’t keep track on is where abouts. As a result he missed the 2011 copenhagen world championship where the road race was tailored for him – all flat, tiny hills and a finish line on Geels bake where he would have beaten Cavendish + additionally he was also a medal candidate for the TT (2nd to millar on the Giro 2011 TT by 7seconds – but on a flats rear tire for the last km’s)

    Two years out the game and he never got back to his previous level.

  62. 3 “my dogs eaten my homework” excuses just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid, especially at this level and especially with cycling. If 6am – 7am isn’t your normal time of getting out of bed then it’s pretty pointless giving it as a time slot.

    Maybe missing 1 test is understandable, but to miss all 3 then only appeal the first one after you have been banned seems a little strange. I’m not suggesting LA took PEDs & was attempting to hide it, but something is very odd.

  63. Why would anyone believe that she’s clean?
    We’ve heard all of this before.
    Including cycling authorities ‘helping’ these athletes.

    As always, the whole thing is a farce, cover-ups are involved and – as is so often the case – the ‘big’ rider gets away with it.

    I’ve no idea if she’s clean – neither does anyone else: that’s the problem – but if the rules are not adhered to, riders know they can dope.

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