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Jon Tiernan-Locke has given his first interview since being banned for doping by the UCI and UKAD, telling the Plymouth Herald that he can't afford to fight to clear his name via another appeal.
Tiernan-Locke, formerly of Team Sky and Endura Racing, was banned in July of this year due to irregular biological passport values dating back to 2012. He was subsequently fired by his team and lost his 2012 Tour of Britain win. He is currently ineligible to race until December 31, 2015.
“As before, I don’t feel I’ve been proven guilty. It’s just in the balance of doubt, and it’s not been offered to me,” Tiernan-Locke told his local newspaper.
“There’s no way I can afford to finance another appeal.
“I know riders who have done that but have been left with debts of £80,000-£100,000.
“It’s a big risk and I’m not saying that I wouldn’t appeal again in a second, but with my cool head on, I know it would probably end up in disappointment – again.”
Tiernan-Locke shot to prominence after a blistering early season campaign in 2012, while at Endura. He won a stage and the overall title at the Tour de Mediterranean and followed that up with the overall win in the Tour du Haut Var, another overall title, and two stages, at the Tour Alsace before his Tour of Britain win. Both Team Sky and Garmin showed interest in signing the rider – who was not part of the Passport programme, as Endura were at Continental level – with Tiernan-Locke eventually option for Team Sky.
His irregular readings were taken before he rode for Team Sky, with the rider arguing to the UCI and UKAD that they come as a result from dehydration after a night of drinking. The anti-doping authorities rejected his appeal and upheld the ban.
"The Panel found that the explanation provided by the rider… did not sufficiently explain the abnormal values obtained from the sample,” a statement on UKAD’s website read.
The British rider told the Plymouth Herald that he hasn’t made a decision over his future and if he will attempt to return to racing after his doping ban expires.
“I got into riding because I loved it not because I thought it would be a great way of earning a living,” Tiernan-Locke said.
“After all this I don’t know if my heart is still in it. There has been so much negativity and I’m still a young man with plenty to offer, especially after this experience.
“The only constraints I face are on competing in UCI events – it’s a bummer but that’s the state of play.