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British rider rode away from doping tester days before 2012 Olympics

UKAD
UKAD (Image credit: UKAD)

Days after a damning report from the World Anti-Doping Agency into a private nandrolone testing programme, British Cycling’s success has come under further scrutiny in light of a report that a top rider rode away from a doping control officer (DCO) ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games. 

According to the Mail on Sunday, the incident occurred a few days ahead of the Games in London, when a DCO turned up at a team training camp in a rural location. 

The report refers to one "world-class" rider who was annoyed at being asked to submit a sample, just as they were preparing to set off on a training ride. Instead of complying, it was reportedly agreed that the rider would stick to his ride but would stay in sight of the tester, who was in a car. However, they were soon out of sight. 

The rider did return after the hour-long ride to provide a sample, but even so, the circumstances should have been treated as suspicious, according to anti-doping insiders, one of whom described the incident as "truly troubling".

No official record was kept of the event, with UK Anti-Doping refusing to comment. 

The MoS cites a former senior anti-doping official in speculating two possible explanations.

"Either the doping control officer reported the odd circumstances, but as the sample was negative for drugs and the rider was hugely respected, it was deemed a non-event rather than kept on file.

"Alternatively, under pressure that admonishments were common for any procedural hiccups in collecting samples, the doping control officer simply didn’t report the odd events."

Shane Sutton, head coach at British Cycling at the time, dismissed any notion that the rider in question - who has not been identified - had anything to hide.

"This person was the cleanest athlete out there and it’s sad that they’re dragging stuff up about this particular group after what they achieved," Sutton said. 

The ‘group’ he is referring to relates to the nandrolone study, with the latest edition of the MoS carrying more on that topic.

The Sunday newspaper first revealed that traces of the steroid had been found in a rider’s sample and that British Cycling had conducted a private testing programme in 2011 using non-WADA-accredited labs, with the knowledge of UKAD. Last week WADA issued its report on the matter, ruling out disciplinary action but outlining ‘potential wrongdoing’. 

The latest MoS report reveals that a nandrolone trace had come from a rider who was part of a small, top-level training group, which between it boasted more than 70 medals across Olympic and Commonwealth Games and World and European Championships. Some of the other members of the group confirmed they had been tested during the nandrolone study.

"All I can tell you now, hand on heart, on the death of my daughter, is this [group of 2012 Olympians], and especially that [trace training] group, was the cleanest group of athletes you could ever want to meet," Sutton claimed.

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