Millar on British long team for London Games
CAS decision opens door for Millar to ride first Olympics in 12 years
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LONDON (AFP) – David Millar, who served a two-year suspension from 2004 to 2006 after admitting to taking the banned blood booster EPO, was included in the Great Britain long team announced Wednesday for the London 2012 Olympics.
Millar was included in an eight-man road race squad from which five riders will be selected to compete at the Games.
It is the 35-year-old Scot’s first involvement in an Olympics since the Sydney Games 12 years ago.
Following the end of his two-year suspension, he still remained barred from future Olympics under the British Olympic Association (BOA) bylaw imposing a lifetime Games ban on anyone found guilty of, or admitting to, doping offenses.
However, that ruling was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in April, paving the way for the likes of Millar and sprint runner Dwain Chambers to return to Olympic competition.
Millar, if he made it to the final team, would not be going for a podium finish himself but would be expected to help pace the likes of world champion and Tour de France green jersey winner Mark Cavendish.
British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford, reflecting on Millar’s selection, told Sky Sports: “The BOA decide who is eligible, it’s their team.
“Then it’s my job to pick the fastest team. If you make David Millar eligible, he’s got to be in the mix for selection.
“When Mark won his world road title, David was his road captain and he played a phenomenal role. There’s that emotional aspect around it, of what it (the Olympics) represents, but he was a critical part of that team and I’m sure Mark would like him to be a critical part of that team on the first day in London.”
Also in the squad was triple Olympic gold medalist Bradley Wiggins.
While Cavendish has gone on record as saying Millar had “redeemed himself” by becoming a leading campaigner against drugs in cycling, Wiggins said in January he did not deserve an Olympic reprieve.
“To have Dave in the team purely from a performance point of view, it would be fantastic for Mark (in terms of) trying to win the Olympic road Race,” Wiggins told the BBC.
“But from a moral point of view, from what cycling is trying to achieve, from what cycling’s been through the last few years, for what the Olympics stand for, he should never be able to do the Olympics again.”
Beijing stars Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton were both named with the track squad. Hoy is still to find out if he will be given the chance to defend all three of the golds he won in Beijing, with 2008 Olympic silver medalist Jason Kenny pushing the Scot hard for the one sprint place.
“The standard in the British Cycling team is so high and the selection process is always going to be tough,” said Hoy.
“This is my fourth Olympics, but my first home Games, and it’s going to be an amazing experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us.”
Hoy and Kenny are joined in the sprint squad by 19-year-old German-born Philip Hindes, with Olympic champions Ed Clancy and Geraint Thomas in the endurance group.
Pendleton and Jess Varnish are in the women’s sprint squad, with Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Wendy Houvenaghel in the endurance events.