Having been named on the initial eight-man selection list for the men's road race at the London 2012 Olympic Games, British cyclist David Millar has admitted that he feels as if the "final handcuff" has been removed from him.
The Garmin-Barracuda man recently had a lifetime Olympic ban overturned, which made him eligible for selection to the Games. In 2004 he admitted to EPO use and was immediately banned for life by the British Olympic Association, but that ban was deemed unlawful by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in April.
Last Wednesday, Millar, who has been an active and outspoken anti-doping campaigner since his ban, was named on the Team GB long list alongside the likes of Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins - something that a few months ago did not seem possible. That long list of eight will be reduced to five rubber-stamped team members at the end of June.
“For eight years, I’d been through it all – bans, sanctions, being ostracised, legal problems – and the only thing left to hang over me was my lifetime Olympic ban and I didn’t realise how much I hated living with it until it was actually lifted," Millar told the Daily Telegraph. “It was like taking off the final handcuff.”
Millar said he understands the vocal opposition of riders like Great Britain's four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy, who will head to London in August hoping for more success on the track. In the past Hoy has been explicit in his support for lifetime bans for drug cheats but when questioned about Millar at the official unveiling of the Great Britain team he stated that he would support him fully if Millar is selected.
“He’s this paragon of perfection - you know, Sir Chris Hoy," Millar said. "He lives in a white world. Perhaps some of us live in a bit more of a grey world where we understand a bit more of what actually goes on. But we need people like Chris. Redgrave’s another. Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Steve Redgrave: they’re white knights."