Jonathan Tiernan-Locke: Team Sky terminate cyclist's contract following anti-doping violation

Cyclist has also been stripped of his 2012 Tour of Britain title

with the tour de france

Team Sky endured a day to forget in the Tour de France on Thursday after news broke two hours before the stage  finish that their rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke had been suspended for two years for a doping offence – and was promptly sacked from the team.

Tiernan-Locke’s offence is linked to irregularities in his biological passport and dates from before his signing for Sky last year. But the former Tour of Britain winner has the dubious honour of being the first Team Sky rider in the squad’s four-and-a-half year history to be found directly guilty of a doping violation.

While Tiernan-Locke now faces a suspension until December 2015, in the short term at the Tour it meant Sky’s top management faced a barrage of questions about the rider’s offence and the recruitment process that allowed him to join the team in the first place.

As the Team Sky riders completed Thursday’s stage and began their process of warming down – riding at a gentle pace to eliminate lactic acid – in a long line in front of the team bus, just a few yards away team principal Sir Dave Brailsford was surrounded by reporters. But for the first time in this year’s Tour, the subject for discussion had nothing to do the day’s racing.

“We respected the process and now it’s been concluded, we terminated his contract with immediate effect,” Brailsford said. “We know that the violation was before he joined Team Sky... there’s no place for cheats in this sport and certainly not in Team Sky.”

Tiernan-Locke was racing with a team at Continental level – in football terms, more or less equivalent to League One – in 2012 when he took a string of wins, including the Tour of the Mediterranean, the Tour du Haut Var in France and the Tour of Britain.


However, at that level of racing there is no biological passport programme in place – and in Tiernan-Locke’s case, given the anomaly dated from pre-2013, the readings that eventually confirmed a possible doping offence were only completed in March of last year.

Tiernan-Locke raced for 39 days with Team Sky before he was notified of the biological passport irregularities and suspended in September 2013. During the investigation that followed – which was subject to several delays – he is reported to have denied doping.

Brailsford recognised, nonetheless, that Sky’s recruiting process had undergone a major review and overhaul after the Tiernan-Locke case. “What we have done since” he said on Thursday “is very much look at our governance. We scrutinise in real detail now all the information we’ve got and our monitoring is second to none.” A compliance officer has also been specially appointed by Sky to keep all these questions under closer control.

Brailsford pointed out that the ongoing difficulty for any World Tour team – not just Sky – when signing either amateurs or riders from lower-division teams is that biological passport programs do not exist at that level. “It does raise the issue of signing riders without a biological passport history, but we’ve got to,” he said.

“There’s a certain age [group], if you want to take on neo-pros, they haven’t got a biological passport, so there’s an element of trust in the situation. The more work we can do on it [the biological passport] the better it is. At the end of the day, if the process is helping to catch people who are trying to cheat, albeit before they came to our team, then all well and good.”

Brailsford finally broke off the impromptu press conference mid-way through a question about Tiernan-Locke’s alleged presence at several Sky training camps prior to signing for the team.But the consequences may well rumble on for some time to come.

Meanwhile after a bunch sprint won on Thursday by Alexander Kristoff, the Tour moves into the first of five crucial mountain stages on Friday, with two full-scale Alpine mountain top finishes starting to carve out the definitive classification of this year’s race.

So far the Tour’s two top pre-race contenders, Alberto Contador and Chris Froome, left early because of crashes and injuries, and a dark horse for the final podium, Andrew Talansky, finally opted not to start on Thursday when the pain from his back injuries got too much.

However, a climb like Friday’s 18.2 kilometres ascent to the ski station of Chamrousse in the Alps will see a lasting hierarchy emerging – and indicate whether Vincenzo Nibali, the current race leader, is strong enough in the high mountains to be able to battle for the title all the way through to Paris.

More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...


Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?