Armitstead cleared for Olympics in murky missed doping test case

Lizzie Armitstead is cleared to race the Rio Olympics, despite three missed anti-doping tests over the course of the last 12 months.

Photo: TDW

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MILAN (VN) — World champion Lizzie Armitstead is ready to lead the British road team in the Olympics this Sunday after being cleared of an anti-doping violation due to three missed doping controls.

The 27-year-old Boels – Dolmans cyclist had been temporarily and quietly suspended pending a disciplinary hearing. She faced a four-year suspension for missing three out-of-competition controls in 12 months, but was cleared because she and the British Cycling showed the first one was due to the tester’s mistake.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Armitstead issued a statement on Facebook, explaining her three missed tests in detail.

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Monday night, the Daily Mail reported that she won a case with sport’s high court, CAS, which freed her to compete in upcoming events including the 141-kilometer Olympic road race on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.

Armitstead quit the Giro Rosa early, citing illness, and missed La Course in Paris on July 24. It is now known that she had been serving a temporary suspension since July 11. In a time of information overload, it surprised some critics that the U.K. Anti-doping did not publish the suspension or cycling’s governing body, the UCI, did not list it on its webpage for “Provisional suspensions & Anti-doping Rule Violations.” The UKAD though does not typically comment on cases before the final decisions, and the UCI may have preferred not to mention it as it was out of its jurisdiction and in the hands of the Brits.

U.K. Anti-doping was pushing for a four-year ban. British Cycling’s legal team backed Armitstead’s case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against UKAD. After a hearing on July 21, the Swiss court ruled in the athlete’s favor and struck her first missed anti-doping test on August 20, 2015.

Her legal team showed that the testing official was at fault. After contacted by the Daily Mail, Armitstead released a statement.

“Armitstead was staying at the team hotel, during the UCI Women’s Road World Cup in Sweden,” read the statement.

“CAS ruled that the UKAD doping control officer had not followed required procedures nor made reasonable attempts to locate Armitstead.”

Reportedly, the tester did not make it clear to the Swedish hotel staff why he was there at 6:00 a.m., and Armitstead did not hear the calls as she had her telephone in silent mode.

She also missed out-of-competition tests October 5, 2015 and June 9, 2016, but did not ague to clear those. She said that they were failures to update her status in the Anti-Doping Administrative Management System or ADAMS.

“The October 2015 failure was the result of a filing failure on ADAMS caused by an administrative oversight. Armitstead did not dispute the oversight,” read a statement.

“The June 2016 missed test was the result of Armitstead not updating her whereabouts on ADAMS, having had an emergency change of plans due to a serious illness within her family.”

Armitstead won the world championship road race last September in Richmond, Virginia. This year, she won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Boels Rental Hills Classic, and a stage and overall in the Aviva Tour.

It remains unclear why Armitstead did not decide to contest the first missed anti-doping test soon after it happened, why British Cycling gave her legal backing, or why cycling’s governing body kept the case unlisted.

If she misses another test in the next months, she would again face a three-strike ban, given that she already has two on the board.

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