UCI blocked drugs tests for Jonathan Tiernan-Locke

British rider and former team both demanded biological passport to clear his name last year

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The Independent Online

Endura Racing, who employed Jonathan Tiernan-Locke before Team Sky, has claimed both rider and team pushed to have a biological passport early last year to dispel rumours about doping levelled against him.

The 28-year-old has been called upon by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to respond to allegations of potential discrepancies in his biological passport that revealed suspect blood values. But the rider's camp said they were confident that he would be cleared of any wrongdoing.

Endura insisted that Tiernan-Locke himself had been keen to be tested more rigorously during his 2012 breakthrough season in which he won three races, including the Tour of Britain.

In a statement it said: "Endura, with the full support of JTL [Tiernan-Locke], made a request to the UCI to be allowed to pay to have him put on a biological passport in order to counter the rumours of PEDs [performance-enhancing drugs] that circulated after his wins in the Tour Méditerranéen and Tour du Haut Var in early-season racing during 2012, however this request was refused by the UCI."

Tiernan-Locke grew frustrated with such accusations last season and, in a previous interview, hit back at critics, saying: "I can't let things like that get to me. There were comments made but I think a lot of it is sour grapes."

He has undergone a series of health problems, including a well-publicised battle with the Epstein-Barr virus, and such issues have been known to cause anomalies on a biological passport.

His agent Andrew McQuaid, son of the dethroned UCI president, Pat McQuaid, told The Daily Telegraph he was confident Tiernan-Locke would be proved innocent: "We are currently planning to answer the questions raised by the UCI and we're extremely confident that, once we present our answers, the case won't go any further."

Tiernan-Locke had been due to ride for Great Britain at the World Championship road race in Florence on Sunday. He withdrew citing poor form but news of the passport anomalies were then leaked from the UCI.

As well as a request by Endura to set up a biological passport early in 2012, the team also sought increased testing by the UK Anti-Doping Agency.

Their statement added: "As regards Endura Racing's team culture relating to PEDs, the team owners and management have always been explicit and vociferous in condemnation of their use and, although limited in its resources as a UCI Continental licensed team, Endura Racing previously made attempts to arrange for additional spontaneous testing for its riders through UKAD. Unfortunately, this request was rejected."

UKAD explained it could not commit to every drug-test request it received from different sports. A spokesman said: "UK Anti-Doping operates an intelligence-led testing programme funded by the Government. In addition to this, national governing bodies of sport and event organisers can request contracted domestic testing services which we provide when resources allow."

Endura also pointed out the rider had undergone physiological tests with Team Garmin-Sharp and Team Sky, adding that "although Endura never received any data from these tests, neither was anything raised by Team Sky as unusual or concerning".

As news of the UCI investigation into Tiernan-Locke broke, Team Sky said: "We have no doubts about [Tiernan-Locke's] performance, behaviour or tests at Team Sky and understand any anomaly is in readings taken before he joined the team." But Team Sky had no further comment to make in the wake of Endura's statement and insisted it will now await the outcome of the UCI proceedings.