Tiernan-Locke explains decision not to appeal suspension, questions if he will return to cycling
Two days after a two year suspension for biological passport irregularities was confirmed, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke has explained his reason for not appealing the case to CAS, saying financial considerations were the issue.
“As before, I don’t feel I’ve been proven guilty. It’s just in the balance of doubt, and it’s not been offered to me,” the Briton told the Plymouth Herald.
“There’s no way I can afford to finance another appeal. It would be the equivalent of me buying a small flat in Plymouth.
“I know riders who have done that but have been left with debts of £80,000-£100,000. It’s a big risk and I’m not saying that I wouldn’t appeal again in a second, but with my cool head on, I know it would probably end up in disappointment – again.”
The-then Endura Racing rider made a strong improvement in results in 2012, winning the Tour du Haut Var, the Tour of the Mediterranean and the Tour of Britain. The first two of those results led to an invite to a Team Sky training camp in May of that year plus interest in him as a potential signing; the latter turned into a firm offer after his Tour of Britain success and he inked a deal on September 20.
Two days later, he was subjected to a biological passport blood test for the first time in his career. This was one day before he rode the UCI world road race championships, finishing 19th.
He had been subjected to three urine tests during the Tour of Britain but, according to UK Anti Doping (UKAD), none of these were analysed for traces of EPO.
Over the next five months four further samples were taken to build up his longitudinal profile for the biological passport. These set a baseline and made it clear that his September 22 reading was abnormal.
Notified by the UCI on September 18 2013 that he was under investigation, he and his lawyer fought the case. They blamed a night of binge drinking on September 20 2012 for the irregular blood test result. This didn’t convince the experts weighing up the details and on July 17 the UCI confirmed via its web page that he was facing a two year ban for doping.
He decided not to appeal that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, leading to UKAD’s confirmation on Monday that the two year ban would officially stand.
He was also stripped of his results from the 2012 Tour of Britain and world road race championships, and given a fine of £15,400. This represents 70% of his gross income during his 2012 season with Endura Racing.
In addition to that, he must pay costs of CHF 2,500 for results management and €324 for laboratory documentation.
Speaking to the Plymouth Herald, Tiernan-Locke expressed doubts about returning to pro racing after his ban.
“I got into riding because I loved it, not because I thought it would be a great way of earning a living,” he said.
“After all this I don’t know if my heart is still in it. There has been so much negativity and I’m still a young man with plenty to offer, especially after this experience.”
He said that he was considering other options, including possibly working as a cycle tour guide and doing some coaching.