Lizzie Armitstead may have been cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over one of her three missed anti-doping tests but the whole thing has been hard to swallow for some of her companions from the world of professional cycling.
"Just shameful", was the curt statement of mutli-discipline world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot when linking on Twitter to the Daily Mail, who broke the story that had been hidden from daylight for an alarming period of time.
Armitstead, the current road world champion, was suspended by UK Anti-Doping on July 11 after missing a third out-of-competition test in the space of 12 months but escaped a ban when CAS ruled there was no wrongdoing on her part for the first – in August last year.
As we have expanded upon in this separate article, the case raises more questions than answers, and many of them were hit upon by fellow riders who shared their instant reactions on social media.
"1st test understandable but I'd be hyper aware about missing 2nd. If I missed 2nd there is no chance I'd miss 3rd???" wrote the experienced Canadian mountain biker Geoff Kabush to which the American Katie Compton replied: “Agreed. I've messed up my whereabouts 3x in 13 years. Twice in 1 year will stress you out enough to not miss a 3rd!”
Bridie O'Donnell, who held the women’s Hour Record earlier this year, struck a similar chord when replying to one Twitter user. "When I missed a test in '11, vigilance for updating & confirming my whereabouts became was key! >1 missed test is very unusual," she said. Her words were echoed by Ottilie Quince, a transplant world champion cyclist who also carries out testing work under WADA.
One of the other key questions is why Armitstead chose not to challenge the first missed test at the time it occurred back in August 2015. UKAD has stated that she had the opportunity to appeal but did not do so, accepting it only until she received her third strike in June this year which triggered the suspension.
Other riders questioned the credibility of the process as a whole.
"It is all just a joke. Why even try to make rules," questioned Sari Saarelainen when linking to Cyclingnews' article, while Cylance rider Valentina Scandolara referenced the famous George Orwell quote.
O'Donnell also gave her take on the case, and the question of doping in women's cycling more generally. "My opinion about doping in #womenscycling has always been that it was rare because of the cost, lack of profile & lack of incentive - ie winning a World Cup / women's GT equivalent was far less life changing than for male pro cyclists, so the risk wasn't worth the reward ," she wrote. "So what worries me about LA is not 'what if she were Russian?' but more, what if she were Sagan / Froome / Cancellara? We'd assume guilt. "
Chloe Hosking, who won La Course just over a week ago - a race Armitstead was forced to miss during her suspension - was more concise in offering her input.
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