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Lizzie Armitstead cleared to ride in Rio after winning appeal against anti-doping violation

Cyclist magazine
2 Aug 2016

Armitstead makes three 'whereabouts' failures, but cleared to ride in Rio after appeal saying there was 'no negligence' on her part.

It has been revealed by UK Anti Doping (UKAD) that Lizzie Armitstead made three 'whereabouts' failures in one year, but has been cleared to ride in Rio by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after it was ruled that there was 'no negligence' on Armistead's part in the first of these failures. 

The first violation was made on the 20th August 2015 at a UCI Women's Road World Cup event in Sweden, where Armitstead was staying at the team hotel. 'CAS ruled that the UKAD Doping Control Officer had not followed required procedures nor made reasonable attempts to locate Armitstead. CAS also ruled that there was no negligence on Armitstead’s part and that she had followed procedures according to the guidelines,' the UKAD statement reads. 

'This issue was one of administration and was the result of UKAD not following proper procedure nor fully attempting to make contact with me despite clear details being provided under ‘whereabouts’,' said Armitstead, also adding that she felt there was a need for clearer guidelines for those administrating tests. 'I was tested in competition the day after this test, reinforcing my position that I do not cheat and had no intention of not being tested.'

The Daily Mail reported that the official did not explain to hotel staff why he wanted to know Armitstead's room number, after asking at around 6am. He was refused the information, then attempted to contact Armitstead on a mobile phone, which she had put on silent while she slept. That was the end of the official's attempt at making a test, before they logged a missed test with UKAD.

The October 2015 failure was, according to UKAD's statement, the result of a filing failure on ADAMS (Anti-Doping Administration & Management System) caused by an administrative oversight. The test missed in June 2016 was the result of Armitstead not updating her whereabouts on ADAMS due to family reasons. She did not dispute either of these failures. 

'I have always been and will always be a clean athlete and have been vocal in my anti-doping stance throughout my career,' said Armitstead. 'I am pleased that CAS has accepted my position, having provided detailed information demonstrating the situation around my strikes. 

'I understand how important it is to be vigilant in my role as a professional athlete and realise the potential implications this could have had. I would like to thank British Cycling and the team around me for all of their help and support. I am very much looking forward to putting this situation behind me and firmly focussing on Rio again after what has been an extremely difficult time for myself and my family.'

When we called British Cycling for their input, they issued a generic statement: 'British Cycling can confirm that following her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Lizzie Armitstead remains a part of the Team GB squad for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We are satisfied that the matter has now been resolved and look forward to Rio, where we have full confidence that the team will be a great success.'

A number of questions remain though. If Armitstead believed she was not at fault for the first whereabouts failure, why did she not dispute it at the time? 

'When UKAD asserts a Whereabouts Failure against an athlete, the athlete has the opportunity to challenge the apparent Whereabouts Failure,' a second statement from UKAD reads.

'Ms Armitstead chose not to challenge the first and second Whereabouts Failures at the time they were asserted against her. At the CAS hearing, Ms Armitstead raised a defence in relation to the first Whereabouts Failure, which was accepted by the Panel. We are awaiting the Reasoned Decision from the CAS Panel as to why the first Whereabouts Failure was not upheld.'

While Armitstead may be on her way to Rio, and would like to put the situation behind her, it appears there will be questions that remain. 

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