Cyclist Armitstead wins appeal against doping violations

Leave a comment

LONDON — British cyclist Lizzie Armitstead won an appeal against an anti-doping violation, clearing the world road race champion to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Armitstead missed three doping tests in a 12-month period, triggering a charge by U.K. Anti-Doping, a provisional suspension and the possibility of a two-year ban.

She appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and a statement released on Armitstead’s behalf on Monday said the first missed test — from August 2015 — was declared void by CAS because UKAD’s doping control officer had failed to follow procedure.

On Tuesday, UKAD confirmed the ruling by CAS.

“We respect the outcome of the CAS hearing,” said UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead, who added that the body was awaiting the written decision on why the violation was not upheld.

Armitstead said she has “always been and will always be a clean athlete and have been vocal in my anti-doping stance throughout my career.”

“I am pleased that CAS has accepted my position, having provided detailed information demonstrating the situation around my strikes,” she said in her statement.

The 27-year-old Armitstead won a silver medal in the road race at the London Games in 2012 and is one of the favorites in Rio. She won gold at the road world championships in the United States in September.

Armitstead’s first missed test came at a World Cup event in Sweden. The second was an administrative failure on Oct. 5 and the third was a missed test on June 9 following “an emergency change of plans due to a serious illness within her family.”

She was charged by UKAD with three whereabouts failures on July 11.

Sapstead said 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 defense in relation to the first Whereabouts Failure, which was accepted by the Panel,” Sapstead said.

Armitstead did not dispute the last two faults at CAS.

UKAD has a policy of not publicly disclosing provisional suspensions, or details of cases, until an anti-doping rule violation has deemed to have been committed.

2019 Tour will honor 1st victory of 5-time champion Merckx

AP Photo
Leave a comment

BRUSSELS (AP) The start of the 2019 Tour de France will be all about honoring Eddy Merckx in his hometown of Brussels.

Merckx, known as “The Cannibal” for his ferocious taste for victory, won the first of his five Tours in 1969. Half a century later, the Belgian great still sees it as one of the major accomplishments for a cyclist generally considered to be the greatest ever.

“I wore the yellow jersey 96 times. It is the best memory of my career. It still gives me goosebumps,” Merckx said during Tuesday’s presentation of the Grand Depart – the opening weekend of the three-week Tour.

Merckx also won a record 34 Tour stages and is among four riders who won the Tour a record five times. French riders Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, and Spanish great Miguel Indurain are the others.

Tour organizers said it will be the second time the race will set off from the Belgian capital, which hosted the race’s Grand Depart in 1958.

The 2019 race will also mark 100 years since the race leader’s yellow jersey was created.

When it comes to the first two stages on July 6-7, the iconic Wall of Geraardsbergen climb should take center stage.

The 192-kilometer (119-mile) first stage of the Tour will have the Wall, for decades the toughest climb in the Ronde of Flanders classic. The Wall will come early but the stage, which makes a big loop south of Brussels, is still set up for a sprint finish close to the royal palace.

It will also have its stretch of famed Flemish cobblestones and will pass through the hometown of soccer player Eden Hazard.

The second stage will be a 28-kilometer team time trial through the Belgian capital along its wide-open boulevards. The riders will also pass by St. Pieters-Woluwe in suburban Brussels, where Merckx lived as a child and where he got to pull on his first yellow jersey.

From Brussels, it is an easy trek south into nearby France for the rest of the race.

Peter Sagan wins prelude to Tour Down Under

AP Photo
Leave a comment

ADELAIDE, Australia — Three-time world road racing champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia made an outstanding start to the 2018 cycling season Sunday when he won the People’s Choice Classic, a prelude to the first World Tour event of the season, the Tour Down Under.

Sagan beat star sprinters Andre Greipel of Germany and Caleb Ewan of Australia in a bunch sprint to win the 50.6 kilometer (31.4 mile) race over 22 laps of a street course in central Adelaide.

The win means Sagan will wear the tour leader’s ocher jersey in the first stage of the six stage Tour Down Under on Tuesday. Sunday’s race does not count toward general classification.

Ewan won the race in each of the past two years and Greipel is the only three-time winner. The 132-strong field that lined up for the race Sunday included seven former winners.