Lizzie Armitstead: “It hurts me to consider anybody questioning my performances”

British world champion reiterates innocence and hits back at Twitter critics after CAS ruling

World champion Lizzie Armitstead has reiterated her innocence in a strongly-worded statement after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) cleared her of an anti-doping rule violation.

Armitstead, who will ride for Great Britain in the women’s road race at the Rio 2016 Olympics on Sunday (August 7), had a provisional suspension overturned after UKAD had charged the Yorkshirewoman with three ‘whereabouts failures’.

It has led to a backlash against the Boels-Dolmans rider, prompting the 27-year-old to release a statement from her twitter account to explain the incidents in more detail and reiterate her innocence.

Lizzie Armitstead has hit back at critics and reiterated her innocence after being cleared to race at Rio 2016 (pic: Sirotti)

“I love sport and the values it represents,” she wrote. “It hurts me to consider anybody questioning my performances.

“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.

“I am sorry for causing anyone to lose faith in sport. I am an example of what hard work and dedication can achieve. I hate dopers and what they have done to the sport.”

Armitstead’s was charged with three whereabouts failures in a 12-month period, which could have carried a suspension of up to four years.

But the Yorkshirewoman, who has seven wins to her name since becoming world champion, insisted the first of those was due to an error on the part of the UKAD tester – something CAS ‘unanimously’ accepted.

Writing about the incident in further detail in her statement, she says the strike against her – which happened in Sweden ahead of the Women’s World Cup event in Vargada – was despite her being in the hotel she had stated she would be in at the time.

“The DCO [doping control officer] didn’t do what was reasonable or necessary to find me,” Armitstead wrote, adding that an initial appeal against the strike was not accepted by UKAD on the eve of the UCI World Road Race Championships, where she pulled on the rainbow jersey.

A second strike was put against her name due to a ‘filing failure’ – different from a missed test – when an administrative spot check in October found an ‘inconsistency between an overnight accommodation and a morning time slot’.

Armitstead explained: “A busy post-World Championship period meant I had no firm plans and as such was changing address and plans very quickly.

“I made a mistake. This was an honest mistake rather than trying to deceive anybody. A mistake that many athletes who are honest with themselves will admit to having made themselves.”

“I am sorry for causing anyone to lose faith in sport. I am an example of what hard work and dedication can achieve. I hate dopers and what they have done to the sport,” Armitstead wrote

Following the second strike, Armitstead sought advice in order to avoid a third – and a potential ban – but a family emergency led to her missing another test on Thursday June 9.

Armitstead will not elaborate on the incident, asking for her right to privacy to be respected, but did state ‘my personal family circumstances at the time of the test were incredibly difficult’.

“I am not a robot,” she added. “I am a member of a family, my commitment to them comes over and above my commitment to cycling.

“This will not change and as a result I will not discuss this further. Our suffering does not need to be part of a public trial.”

Concluding her statement, she explained the reason the provisional suspension had not been disclosed publicly beforehand was due to her right to a fair trial at CAS – with UKAD policy not to name anybody while provisional hearings are in place.

And in response to some of the ‘incredibly painful comments’ levelled at her since the news broken, she concluded: “To any of the ‘Twitter army’ reading this, do yourself a favour and go for a bike ride. It’s the most beautiful thing you can ever do to clear your mind.”

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