World Champion Lizzie Armitstead has provided further information regarding her three missed anti-doping tests which saw UK-Anti doping bring a case against her that could have resulted in a four-year ban which was ultimately quashed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The Boels Dolmans rider spoke with British newspaper The Daily Mail about the missed tests and her successful appeal which will allow her to compete at the Rio Olympic Games.
"I felt like I was standing on a cliff and I was going to fall off the edge," Armitstead said. "It was more than just missing the Olympics in Rio. It was everything else. It was what was going on with my family. I was more concerned about my reputation and people’s understanding of it.
"I could have been banned. That’s what I was most scared about. All the hard work being for nothing. It was basically my livelihood and my sport being taken away from me. It was everything. A black line."
The 27-year-old missed anti-doping tests on August 20, and October 5 last year, and on 9 June 2016. Armitstead successfully appealed her ban on July 21 at CAS with the August 20 test expunged from her record, clearing her way to compete in Rio.
In her interview with The Daily Mail, Armitstead explained the situation which led to her missing the August 20 test, the day before racing the Crescent Women World Cup Vårgårda TTT.
"I've been on this "Whereabouts" system since 2006. I've travelled the world, been in hotels, training camps, races, for all that amount of time. And I've never had a problem with a testing official trying to find me in a hotel. I updated my whereabouts in Sweden like I had done for that hotel for the previous five years I'd stayed there," she said.
"Basically this bloke walks in off the street at 6am and asks for my room number, without explanation, and understandably the receptionist wouldn't give it to him. Then he called my mobile, which was on silent. And then filed a missed test report. The findings in the CAS hearing said that he should have told the receptionist that firstly he was looking for a Boels Dolmans (her professional team) cyclist. He didn't explain who he was or the seriousness of the situation.
"Basically, it was found that he did not do a good enough job in trying to find me. I was the leader of the World Cup, I was tested the next day, and that sample was negative."
Read more on this story:
- Armitstead cleared for Rio Olympics after anti-doping appeal
- UKAD responds to CAS decision to clear Armitstead
- More questions than answers in Armitstead case
- Riders react to the Lizzie Armitstead case
- Retired Olympic champion Cooke expresses opinion on Armitstead's case
Explanation of missed second and third anti-doping tests
While Armitstead contested the first of three missed anti-doping tests in a 12-month period, she accepted responsibility for the second test but was not as forthcoming in explaining her most recent missed test.
"The filing failure in October I take responsibility for," she said. "It was just after becoming world champion and I was spinning too many plates and one fell off. I was seeing family and friends that I had not seen for months, I was in holiday mode, I was absolutely not trying to deceive anybody. Since then, extra precautions have been put in place around increased diligence and care and my priority is "whereabouts"."
"The third one was out of character and under extraordinary circumstances," she said of the June 9 missed test, on the eve of the Aviva Womens Tour. A race she would win overall.
"I continued to race until my suspension came through, so I completed the women's Tour (of Britain). I did media and all that kind of thing knowing that all this may be taken from me. I spent a lot of time on the phone to my friends and family to help me get through it.
"I feel incredibly proud of the work I have put in ahead of Sunday's race despite all this happening to me. It's been really difficult to concentrate on training, nutrition and recovery — all the little details — but I haven't let anything slip."
The 2012 London silver medallist added that she was expected a notification regarding her tests from UKAD.
"I expected to receive something having missed a (third) test on June 9," she said. "I was just waiting for a letter. It was a difficult time. I knew there was a problem because a doping control officer was outside my apartment in Monaco on June 9 and they gave me a ring. I wasn't where I said I would be because of an emergency situation with my family. They have two weeks to notify you of a missed test — and the letter came on the 13th day."
When asked by The Daily Mail, Armitstead wouldn't reveal the specifics of the 'emergency situation', stating; "It's something I don't want to talk about. It's a private family matter. It's something I don’t feel comfortable talking about. All the circumstances were accepted. It was just the degree of negligence which was being questioned."
Athletes can update their whereabouts via phone, email, or text one minute before their one-hour testing period and change the time.
Armitstead concluded the interview, explaining that she accepts her recent results will now be seen in a different light.
"I’m one of the most tested athletes in the world,’ she said. ‘I’ve been tested at least 16 times this year. I was tested two days ago. The hardest thing about this situation is that there will be people who will always have doubts about my performances. My victories and dominance this year are a result of hard work, a fantastic cycling team and some incredible individuals who believe in me.
"I can only tell you that I am a clean athlete and an honest person."