British Cyclist Lizzie Armitstead Insists She's a Clean Athlete

The reigning silver medalist will lead Britain's squad in Sunday's road race

British cyclist Lizzie Armitstead insisted in a two-page statement Wednesday that she is a clean athlete and that three missed anti-doping tests in a 12-month period amounted to honest oversights.

She released the statement one day after U.K. Anti-Doping confirmed the world road race champion had successfully appealed her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Armitstead faced a provisional suspension and two-year ban that could have kept her out of the Rio Olympics.

The reigning silver medalist will lead Britain's squad in Sunday's road race.

"I love the sport and the values it represents. It hurts me to consider anybody questioning my performances," Armitstead wrote. "I hate dopers and what they have done to sport."

The 27-year-old Armitstead outlined the circumstances for each missed test, though she only argued the first miss before a World Cup race in Sweden last August should be thrown out. Armitstead said anti-doping officials had not followed proper procedure and CAS ultimately agreed.

Armitstead explained that she was at the hotel she stated when anti-doping officials arrived, but that her phone was on silent and hotel staff refused to give the tester her room number.

She was tested the following day and the test was negative.

Armitstead said she contested the missed test with a written explanation after learning of it, but that the letter was not accepted before she traveled to the U.S. for last year's world championships.

"Put simply," Armitstead said, "I was available and willing to provide a sample for UKAD."

Armitstead acknowledged fault in the other two missed tests. She called the October 2015 case a "filing failure" after anti-doping officials found an inconsistency in her overnight accommodations and her time slot during a routine spot check, and that her June 2016 missed test came after a last-minute change of plans following an unspecified family emergency.

Last December, Armitstead met with UKAD and British Cycling officials to develop a support plan to avoid another missed test. But a British Cycling official who was supposed to help Armitstead update her whereabouts plan had departed the organization without her knowing about it.

If that "failsafe" was in place, Armitstead said, her third missed test could have been avoided.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has tried to make it easier for athletes to update their whereabouts in recent years. Along with updating their time slots and whereabouts on a website, by email and text message, they can also have agents or representatives submit information on their behalf.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the case was that Armitstead and British Cycling were able to keep it confidential until its resolution, especially with the Rio Olympics beginning in a matter of days.

Armitstead said she the reason it hadn't been discussed publicly was that "I had the right to a fair trial at CAS. It is clear sensational headlines have a detrimental effect to any legal case."

Now, she hopes to turn her attention fully toward competing in Rio.

The road race course is considered one of the toughest in Olympics history, starting with a long, fast stretch away from Copacabana and along Rio's coast. The race then heads into the hills with smaller climbs on the Grumari circuit before hard, steep ascents of Canoas and Vista Chinesa.

Those back-to-back climbs are likely to be where the road race is won or lost.

Armitstead is not a pure climber, but if she can survive the late-race hills, a fast run-in to the finish could give her another opportunity to claim the gold that narrowly eluded her four years ago.

"Integrity is something I strive for in every part of my life. I will hold my head high in Rio and do my best for Great Britain," Armitstead wrote. "I am sorry for causing anyone to lose faith in sport. I am an example of what hard work and dedication can achieve."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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