Rio 2016 Olympics: Lizzie Armitstead wins anti-doping rule appeal over missed test

Lizzie Armitstead
Lizzie Armitstead won Team GB's first medal at the London 2012 Olympics

World road cycling champion Lizzie Armitstead has won an appeal against an anti-doping rule violation that could have forced her to miss the Olympics.

The Briton faced a possible two-year suspension for missing three drugs tests in a 12-month period, but one of them has now been declared void.

"I have always been and will always be a clean athlete and have been vocal in my anti-doping stance," she said.

Armitstead, 27, won Team GB's first medal, a silver, at London 2012.

She is considered one of the favourites to win gold in the women's road race at the 2016 Rio Games on Sunday.

Fellow Briton Christine Ohuruogu, who won Olympic 400m gold in 2008, was banned for a year following three missed tests in 2006.

How the story unfolded

Athletes must make themselves available for testing for one hour each day and inform testers of their location.

Had Armitstead missed three tests in less than a year, she would have violated the World Anti-Doping Agency's code and faced a sanction.

A statement on Armitstead's behalf said she was charged by UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) on 11 July with three so-called 'whereabouts' failures, leading to a suspension pending disciplinary action.

  • The first came at a World Cup event in Sweden on 20 August, 2015.
  • The second was an administrative failure by her on 5 October
  • And the third was a missed test on 9 June this year following "an emergency change of plans due to a serious illness within her family".

Armitstead did not dispute the second two faults, but successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) over the first missed test, which happened at a team hotel in Sweden.

Armitstead undertook in-competition testing the following day, as leader of the UCI Women Road World Cup.

"Cas ruled the Ukad doping control officer had not followed required procedures nor made reasonable attempts to locate Armitstead," the statement added.

"Cas also ruled that there was no negligence on Armitstead's part and that she had followed procedures according to the guidelines."

Lizzie Armitstead
Armitstead with her Olympic silver won in the women's road race at London 2012

The news of Armitstead's missed tests was revealed by the Daily Mail, which said she was supported by a legal team funded by British Cycling.

A British Cycling spokesman said: "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."

Armitstead added: "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 am very much looking forward to putting this situation behind me and firmly focusing on Rio again after what has been an extremely difficult time for myself and my family."

A Ukad spokeswoman said: "Athletes have a responsibility to ensure they support and follow the system, or they risk a possible two-year ban."

Reaction

British rower Zac Purchase, who won Olympic gold in 2008, described Armitstead's plight as a "monumental cock-up".

He added on Twitter: "Imagine what we would be saying if she was Russian... #NotWorthIt #KeepSportClean."

Canadian three-time former Olympian cross-country mountain biker Geoff Kabush added: "1st test understandable but I'd be hyper aware about missing 2nd. If I missed 2nd there is no chance I'd miss 3rd???

"So many questions. How is World Champ suspended for 3 weeks and no one knows? Why did British Cycling fund appeal?"

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