Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
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Wiggle Honda team bike of two-time World Champion
Jose Rujano (Vancansoleil-DCM) rides next to Jonathan Tiernan-Locke at Fleche Wallonne
Period in question pre-dates rider's time with Sky
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Sky Procycling) has received a letter from the UCI calling into question his blood values dating back to September 2012. According to an article in the Sunday Times written by David Walsh, the period in question predates his time with Team Sky, with his results whilst with Endura now under suspicion.
Although Endura were not part of the Biological Passport system at the time, owing to their continental status, Tiernan-Locke was monitored following his victory at the Tour of Britain. The baseline values ascertained after a season of passport measurements during 2013 are what testers are now claiming render his limited 2012 data as suspect.
Tiernan-Locke had a banner 2012, winning the Tour Méditerranéen, Tour du Haut Var, Tour Alsace and the Tour of Britain, and signed with Sky on the merit of those results.
Tiernan-Locke was a surprise late withdrawal from the British team to take to the start line today in Florence at the time tweeting:
"Was sorry I had to withdraw from the worlds line up, just don't have the form to help the lads there. Good luck to team GB though!"
It appears, however, form is the least of his worries as he now has three weeks to provide an explanation to the UCI before proceedings will continue.
Team Sky respond
Team Sky, who pride themselves on a strict zero tolerance toward doping - going as far as demanding that riders sign a declaration confirming that they have had no past or present involvement in doping - issued a statement saying they have "no doubts over his performance, behaviour or tests at Team Sky."
"Team Sky has been informed by Jonathan Tiernan-Locke that the UCI has notified him of a potential discrepancy in his biological passport data," said Team Sky in a press release. "He has withdrawn from racing whilst his response to the UCI is prepared then considered by the UCI.
"We have no doubts over his performance, behaviour or tests at Team Sky and understand any anomaly is in readings taken before he joined the team. Team Sky has tried to respect what should be a confidential process, allowing the rider to explain in private, without prejudice, and the anti-doping authorities to do their valuable job.
"At this stage in the ongoing process we will not add any further detail."
The 2013 season had nearly gone off without another rider being called into question regarding passport values. In January, Leif Hoste was called under investigation after he retired in December of 2012. Carlos Barredo retired last year after a similar investigation.