Tiernan-Locke given two year ban over biological passport violation, fired by Team Sky

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Jonathan Tiernan Locke has been handed a two year ban by UK Anti Doping’s National Anti Doping Panel in connection with a biological passport violation indicative of blood doping.

The Team Sky rider came under investigation last year over values relating back to September 2012, when he was racing with Team Endura. He unexpectedly headed home from cycling’s world road race championships last September; the Sunday Times reported that doubts had been thrown up by the UCI’s biological passport system, which tracks blood values over a period of time to try to pinpoint any suspicious patterns.

The UCI subsequently confirmed this, saying that the rider’s case was being analysed by its experts.

It was then handed over to UK Anti Doping, who passed it on to the National Anti Doping Panel to consider the matter. It has now given him a two year sanction.

The news about the ruling was printed on the UCI’s list of doping cases, available here (pdf). He has been handed a two year ban running until the December 31 2015, and has also been stripped of his results in the 2012 Tour of Britain and the UCI world road race championships of that year.

He took second on a stage and first overall in that Tour of Britain, securing himself a two year contract with Team Sky for 2013 and 2014, and was 19th in the world championship road race.

The UCI has not yet commented [update: brief UCI statement here], but UK Anti Doping has issued a brief statement.

“UK Anti-Doping can confirm receipt of the National Anti-Doping Panel’s decision,” a spokesperson told CyclingTips. “The matter is subject to confidentiality restrictions imposed by the rules, and as such we are unable to provide further comment.

“This protects the rights of all involved. All anti-doping rule violations are published on our website at the conclusion of any appeal windows or appeal.”

Team Sky has issued a statement saying that he has been fired.

“Jonathan’s contract has been terminated today,” stated Dave Brailsford, team principal. “Whilst there have been no doubts about his time with us, his doping violation – from readings taken before he joined this team – means there’s no place for him in Team Sky.

“We’ve a well-known stance on anti-doping and our action is the inevitable outcome of a violation. This is a team that trains, races and wins clean.”

His former manager at Endura Racing, Brian Smith, previously told this writer that Tiernan Locke attended a training camp with Team Sky during May 2012. He stated then that while his team was not part of the UCI’s biological passport, that the training camp – plus subsequent testing – could in theory have enabled Sky to build up its own biological passport on Tiernan Locke.

He said that he never had reason to doubt Tiernan Locke, and believed he was likely clean.

Team Sky said today that it made changes to the recruitment of riders after his case cropped up in September 2013.

“Senior management immediately looked into the case and also reviewed recruitment processes,” it said in a statement. “These will continue to be assessed, on an ongoing basis, with the support of the team’s Compliance Officer, appointed in the autumn.”

The Briton has not raced with the team since September 2013.

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