Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Team Sky) has denied that he requested the delay in his blood passport hearing, in a rare public statement. "Believe me, no-one has more reason to get this over and done with than I do,” he told local newspaper the Plymouth Herald.
Tiernan-Locke, who grew up in Plymouth, England, has been awaiting the hearing into his anomalous blood values since December of last yea, however, it was announced yesterday by UK Anti-Doping (UKADA) that it had been pushed back to the summer.
“I most certainly did not ask for any such thing – I just want this over and done with to clear my name and get my life back,” said Tiernan-Locke. "As I understand it, we were due to go to the hearing next week but one of my legal team is involved in another case and that has or is over-running by a couple of days.
“But that situation is enough to make it difficult to instantly set up a new hearing as both sides, witnesses and so on were affected. So, it was decided – not by me as the statement reads – that the hearing should be delayed.”
Tiernan-Locke could face a two-year ban if he fails to prove to the UKADA that the values were due to natural reasons, rather than the use of prohibited substances. Tiernan-Locke joined team Sky at the beginning of last season, after a sterling year in the Continental ranks that saw him win The Tour du Haut Var, Tour Méditerranéen and the Tour of Britain.
The British rider’s move to the WorldTour didn’t go well, however. Tiernan-Locke suffered from illness and only completed 39 race days, compared to his compatriot Mark Cavendish’s 96. Tiernan-Locke has been out of action since September 2013, with his last races coming at the GPs Quebec and Montreal. He was set to ride the World Championships, but was pulled from the squad just before the news broke.
"I already feel as if I'm serving a suspension, and cannot move forward with my life until this whole thing is resolved," he said. "I know I'm innocent of anything and have stated that all along and yet this has been hanging over me since last September and originally, I believed the hearing would take place in March.
"We're now approaching June and there's still no resolution to it – I just hope this delay to the hearing doesn't drag on, for the longer it does, the longer me and my riding career are in limbo. I just want it settled and can assure everyone involved that the delay is not of my making."
UKADA refused to give an exact date on the hearing, “to protect the rights of all involved and the integrity of the process.”