New UK cycling crisis over failed drug test

Britain's Simon Yates during the 6.1km individual time trial of the Paris-Nice race on March 6. The rider tested positive for terbutaline during the race and his team, Orica-GreenEdge, claimed it was caused by his use of an asthma inhaler.
Britain's Simon Yates during the 6.1km individual time trial of the Paris-Nice race on March 6. The rider tested positive for terbutaline during the race and his team, Orica-GreenEdge, claimed it was caused by his use of an asthma inhaler.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Former world champ Yates could miss Rio as fallout continues in wake of Sutton departure

LONDON • British Cycling was plunged into fresh controversy after Simon Yates, a leading road racer and former world champion, was named as having failed a drugs test.

The revelation follows a new controversy over Shane Sutton, who has been given a hefty payout by British Cycling after resigning as technical director amid allegations of making sexist remarks and derogatory comments about disabled cyclists.

There were further claims that he called a non-white rider "a dirty terrorist" after he turned up to a race unshaven.

Sutton did not comment on these latest allegations. He has previously denied any suggestions that he discriminated against any rider.

Yates was in contention for the Great Britain Olympic team but could now miss the Rio road race .

Orica-GreenEdge, Yates' team, confirmed that the 23-year-old tested positive for terbutaline on March 12, during the Paris-Nice race. The team claimed that the positive test was caused by the rider using an asthma inhaler for which the team doctor had failed to get therapeutic use exemption (TUE).

A statement said: "There has been no wrongdoing on Simon Yates' part. The team take full responsibility for this mistake and wish to underline their support for Simon during this process."

British Cycling did not name Yates but said in a statement: "British Cycling can confirm that it has been notified by the UCI (cycling's world governing body) of a potential anti-doping rule violation against a British rider based on an analysis of a sample provided in competition.

"As with any other doping violation charge at this level, those proceedings will be managed independently of British Cycling by the UCI. It would be inappropriate to comment further until the process has been completed."

British newspaper The Times has also revealed that Sutton has agreed a severance deal that prohibits the Australian from working for any Olympic rivals until after Rio.

The terms of the package, thought to be in the low six figures, were agreed before British Cycling learnt that the 58-year-old had continued to be paid by Team Sky.

British Cycling's chairman, Bob Howden, said that the organisation had been unaware of Sutton's parallel payments from Team Sky continuing after he left the team as head coach in January 2013. "We would have had no way of knowing unless he declared it," he said.

Sutton continues to receive support from former charges. Team Sky cyclist Luke Rowe tweeted: "Some people asking me what I think of Shane Sutton. The answer is he's a great guy with a big heart that has done a lot for me and the sport."

Olympic gold medallists Geraint Thomas and Laura Trott have also praised Sutton's coaching and support.

Mark Colbourne, who won a gold and two silver medals at the 2012 London Paralympics, said he had never heard Sutton make disparaging remarks about disabled athletes, adding: "Shane always treated me with respect and was complimentary after I won world and Olympic gold medals."

An independent review is to be held into the culture and leadership of British Cycling after the controversy and Howden said that he would welcome any recommendations for improvements.

"We are not that big and that arrogant that we think we can't improve. The doors are open and if recommendations are made, then we shall adopt them," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2016, with the headline 'New UK cycling crisis over failed drug test'. Print Edition | Subscribe