By Shane Stokes
Scottish rider David Millar has clarified the reason why he has not been able to attend the anti-doping meeting held between WADA, the UCI, the French Minister for Sport and other major stakeholders in Paris, stating that he supports the initiative but was unable to take part due to prior commitments.
"Despite recent press reports of my attendance at the anti-doping summit held in Paris yesterday and today I will not be present at the summit, and informed the organisers of this when I received my invitation two weeks ago," he said in a statement issued on Tuesday. "I am currently in Malaysia visiting my father, a vacation I have had booked for five months, and as it is the only time in the year I can see him I was reluctant to cancel the trip." Millar's father has lived in Asia for many years.
"This does not in any way mean I do not support the summit," he continued. "I regret not being able to attend and whole-heartedly support the French Minister of Sport in her initiative. I think these are the steps that need to be taken to help cycling move forward."
Millar received a two-year ban in 2004 after admitting EPO use. He returned to the sport immediately prior to last year's Tour de France and has been strongly outspoken against drug use in cycling, saying that he wanted to set an example for others. In keeping with that, he will move to Slipstream next season and undergo the considerable battery of internal testing which the team utilises to prove its riders are clean.
He said that he is hoping that things continue to move forward in the anti-doping fight. "I think the summit represents real progress for the sport and offers a great opportunity for us to make advances in the fight against doping as a united force. I look forward to hearing of the results of this seminar, and believe that everybody involved should for once see this as an opportunity to make progress and not point blame."