• Lizzie Armitstead celebrating her win at the road World Championships in 2015 (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The dust has somewhat settled after the Lizzie Armitstead news broke more than 24 hours ago, but there's several things about it that still stinks.
By
Rachel De Bear

Source:
Cycling Central, The Guardian, BBC, Daily Mail
3 Aug 2016 - 7:05 PM  UPDATED 3 Aug 2016 - 9:40 PM

Arm
World champion Lizzie Armitstead wins last minute anti-doping appeal
World road cycling champion Lizzie Armitstead successfully appealed an anti-doping violation that would have ruled her out of the Rio Olympics and face a hefty ban.

In case you missed it, news broke yesterday that world road cycling champion Lizzie Armitstead successfully appealed against an anti-doping violation that would have ruled her out of the Rio Olympics. The British cyclist would've also faced a ban of up to four years for her three whereabouts failures in the last 12 months.

Or more specifically, 10 months. 

Armitstead was in fact notified on 11th July by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) of her provisional suspension pending disciplinary action. 

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) agreed with her legal team procedures weren't followed for the first of the three tests. CAS has not yet made a statement or provided a reasoned decision for its findings. 

In regards to the first test, only Armitstead's version of events has been reported. She told the Daily Mail: 

"Basically this bloke walks in off the street at 6am and asks for my room number, without explanation, and understandably the receptionist wouldn't give it to him. Then he called my mobile, which was on silent. And then filed a missed test report. Basically, it was found he did not do a good enough job in trying to find me. I was the leader of the World Cup, I was tested the next day, and that sample was negative."

Let's leave all that aside for now because there's several other things about this case that stinks.  

1. Why was the news of a provisionally suspended World Champion never announced?

This tweet goes some way to explain this one:

And this from UKAD:

“It is important to note that we will not publicly disclose provisional suspensions, or disclose details of cases, until an anti-doping rule violation has deemed to have been committed, at which point information will be published on our website. This is to ensure that the rights and privacy of everyone involved are respected and to ensure the case is not unnecessarily prejudiced.”

But didn't Armitstead commit an anti-doping rule violation, regardless of a potential CAS appeal?

And when exactly does a rider appear here on the UCI's table which "lists the license-holders currently serving a provisional suspension as a consequence of a potential or asserted anti-doping rule violation, over which the UCI has result management authority."

Are suspensions involving UKAD/British Cycling exempt? Was the UCI even notified? 

 

2. Why did Armitstead not challenge the first test failure at the time? 

UK Anti-Doping head Nicole Sapstead said:

“When UKAD asserts a whereabouts failure against an athlete, the athlete has the opportunity to challenge the apparent whereabouts failure through an external administrative review, before it is confirmed. Ms Armitstead chose not to challenge the first and second whereabouts failures at the time they were asserted against her."

It is also important to note an athlete's challenge with UKAD and WADA about a whereabouts failure particularly one that is not their fault is far less costly than a trip to CAS. 

Armitstead told the Daily Mail why she did not challenge: 

"The reason I didn't was because it was my first strike and it was very close to the World Championships, so I was travelling to America.

"I also didn't have the legal advice. It felt very much them against me. I was very naive. I went ahead to the World Championships and I didn't want the distraction."

But UKAD's statement tells a different story. 

“UK Anti-Doping recognises that athletes can make mistakes and that plans can change at short notice. We therefore provide a huge amount of support to athletes throughout their time on the Whereabouts programme to ensure the information they provide is accurate and submitted in a timely manner.

This includes providing athletes with a dedicated member of staff to provide ongoing guidance and training on their Whereabouts responsibilities. We also offer athletes a variety of whereabouts tools, including a dedicated website and a free mobile app, so they can easily update their whereabouts wherever they are in the world. Athletes can even text or email changes to us in an emergency.

On top of this, UKAD provides additional, escalating support to athletes who incur whereabouts failures which is tailored to their specific needs." 

This is backed up by former professional cyclist and now Team Wiggle High5 owner Rochelle Gilmore. 

"It’s very hard not to have one missed test within a season, such as when there’s an emergency and you don’t think on your feet very quickly. But it’s a responsibility you need to take and that’s why they give you three strikes.

"When she had the emergency that’s also why you have a manager that’s given access to the [reporting] system, so that in an emergency situation you can let your representative know," she told the Guardian.

This seems to turn Armistead's claim of "them against me" on its head. 

3. British Cycling's role   

It was initially reported that British Cycling funded Lizzie Armitstead's CAS appeal. 

However, British Cycling confirmed otherwise in this statement:

 "We paid for legal advice on our own position because there were a number of considerations as she was going through the Olympic selection process and was a podium athlete.

"That legal advice was shared with Lizzie and her team. Lizzie herself funded the actual appeal to CAS."

British Cycling is a national sports organisation which should be taking an objective position on cases such as these, not passing on advice to the rider involved. Especially as it is dependent on National Lottery funding that is famously based on World Championships and Olympic success. 

Has it helped out a rider like this before?

Or just the ones who are hot favourites to win gold?