Mark Cavendish has confirmed he missed an out-of-competition drugs test last year while filming with the BBC on Mount Etna. The world road race champion and Tour de France green jersey holder will face no action as it is not until three tests have been missed that an athlete faces disciplinary action. As an elite competitor the Manxman is expected to be available for testing within certain predetermined times.
"I missed an out of competition test last April," Cavendish, the Olympic road race favourite, said. "It was my mistake. I was with a film crew for the BBC and Giro d'Italia on Mount Etna. It was a simple, genuine administrative error. Of course I totally understand the importance of testing in sport. I was tested by the UCI [cycling's world governing body] a couple of weeks before that and twice in the fortnight after and had around 60 tests in all last year. It's part of the job and it's my job to make sure I don't miss another."
Dave Brailsford, who is the performance director of the British Olympic cycling team and head of Cavendish's trade team, Team Sky, added that he has total faith in his rider. "There is absolutely no doubt about Mark's integrity. I am totally satisfied that he made a genuine mistake. He is tested regularly and is a powerful advocate for testing and ensuring that sport is clean."
Coincidentally, the news about Cavendish emerged on the same day that the International Cycling Union confirmed that France's world sprint champion Grégory Baugé would lose his title after being retrospectively banned for 12 months, from December 2010, owing to two infringements of the anti-doping administration and management system (Adams), through which athletes detail their availability for testing, plus a missed test. It was also announced that another French cyclist, Yoann Offredo, faces a disciplinary hearing after missing three tests.
The Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, which broke the Cavendish story, had suggested the missed test was down to an administrative error on the part of the assistant to whom Cavendish had delegated the task of dealing with his whereabouts. Another element in the story may be the fact that in 2011 the Manx sprinter was spending time between races at both his home in the Italian town of Quarrata and in Essex with his girlfriend, Peta Todd.
By William Fotheringham