Mark Cavendish has moved quickly to diffuse any suspicion around him, after Italian newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport published an article in its print edition this morning claiming that he had missed at least one out of competition drug test during the 2011 season.
As reported by Cyclingnews this morning, the paper claimed that several sources were privy to this information, despite UCI President Pat McQuaid stating that he knew nothing about it.
Cavendish, who won the Road World Championships and the Tour De France green jersey in 2011, released a statement admitting that he was indeed at fault and spoke of his regret at missing the test last spring. He has the full support of Team GB and Team Sky supremo David Brailsford, who said that Cavendish's integrity wasn't in doubt.
"I missed an out of competition test last April," Cavendish, who was awarded the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award last month, said. "It was my mistake. I was with a film crew for the BBC and Giro d'Italia on Mount Etna. It was a simple, genuine administrative error. Of course I totally understand the importance of testing in sport. I was tested by the UCI a couple of weeks before that and twice in the fortnight after, and had around 60 tests in all last year. It's part of the job and it's my job to make sure I don't miss another."
"There is absolutely no doubt about Mark's integrity," Brailsford said. "I am totally satisfied that he made a genuine mistake. He is tested regularly and is a powerful advocate for testing and ensuring that sport is clean."
Cavendish, who has voiced strong anti-doping opinions in the past, will face no action over the missed test, with UCI doping guidelines saying that no rider should miss three dope tests within an 18-month period. It is his first offence.