Cycling: Millar's two-year ban stands

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The Independent Online

The highest court in sport yesterday threw out David Millar's assertion that his drug offending warranted just a one-year ban - but the Scottish cyclist won the battle which might matter most.

The highest court in sport yesterday threw out David Millar's assertion that his drug offending warranted just a one-year ban - but the Scottish cyclist won the battle which might matter most.

Millar can now theoretically resume his career on the eve of the 2006 Tour de France - an event for which the London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, wants the start to be held in the capital. Millar succeeded in altering the start date of his ban from 6 August 2004 to 24 June 2004, with the three-man CAS panel agreeing that Millar was unable to compete from the date of his arrest in France on the suspicion of committing a doping offence.

Much, however, will depend on Millar's desire to resume his sporting career and the readiness of a leading team to employ a convicted drug cheat.

The 28-year-old had his day before a Court of Arbitration panel in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 24 January and had also been looking to halve his two-year ban and return to the professional peloton this summer.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport decided, however, that the two-year ban meted out by the British Cycling Federation "was proportionate to the circumstances of the case".

Millar admitted upon his arrest that he had been a user of the banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO). Had the CAS thrown out all aspects of his appeal, then the verdict might have ended Millar's career. As it was, his camp refused to comment on the decision last night.

Soon after his arrest, Millar went public with a full admission of how he had used EPO on three occasions. Detailing a time of personal crisis, Millar said that during the 2001 Tour de France he became aware of the availability of EPO and subsequently paid a fellow rider £250 per syringe for the drug.

Yesterday's declaration from the CAS added: "The panel noted that, from the date of his arrest, David Millar was unable to compete and he promptly [withdrew] from the British team for the Olympic Games. The CAS arbitrators decided the two-year suspension should run from 24 June 2004 and end on 23 June 2006."

The modification of Millar's punishment may be a technicality, but he now has an incentive to revive his career next year.

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