David Millar, who served a two-year suspension from 2004 to 2006 after admitting to taking banned blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO), has been named to the Great Britain cycling squad for London 2012.
The 35-year-old was handed a two-year suspension for admitting use of banned blood booster EPO, but is now a fervent anti-doping campaigner and was last month officially cleared to compete at London 2012 after the British Olympic Association’s bylaw banning drug cheats for life was controversially lifted.
Millar has been included alongside a strong team that also includes Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. Five riders from a list of Millar, Cavendish, Steve Cummings, Chris Froome, Jeremy Hunt, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift and Bradley Wiggins will be chosen to compete in the road race at London 2012.
But Millar played an integral role in Cavendish’s World Championships win last September and is almost certain to fill one of the spots when the final team is named for the road race on July 28, which represents one of the earliest opportunities for Britain to celebrate its first gold medal of the Games.
It will be the first time that Millar has competed in the Olympics since Sydney 12 years ago.
Miller had originally said he would not make himself available for selection when his lifetime Olympic selection ban was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
But he then had a change of heart, saying it would have been “selfish and stupid” not to make himself available as a possible teammate for gold medal contender Cavendish in the road race.
British Cycling has to submit its final decision by June 18.
The squad selected is the strongest that Britain can choose from, including Sir Chris, who will become the most successful Olympian in British history, if he wins another gold medal in London.
He has four gold medals and a silver from his three appearances in the Olympics and will surpass rower Sir Steve Redgrave, who has five gold and one bronze, if he retains one of the three titles he claimed in Beijing.
But it has not yet been confirmed whether he will defend all three titles, with his place looking assured in the team sprint and keirin; but Jason Kenny is pushing hard for the lone spot in the individual sprint.
“We have selected what I believe to be an excellent team going into an Olympic Games and we have a good mix of experienced Olympians alongside young riders who are making their Olympic debut,” said team leader Dave Brailsford. “Overall, though, the GB Cycling Team has had a strong season across all the disciplines and we are ready to step up again at the Olympics.”
Britain won a total of 14 medals in Beijing, eight of them gold, but controversial changes to the track cycling program for London 2012 means it is unlikely it will surpass that total in London.
But Sir Chris is still relishing the opportunity to compete before a home crowd.
“The standard in the British Cycling team is so high and the selection process is always going to be tough, but there’s a great atmosphere in the team and we just need to keep putting in the hours in training and make sure we’re in the best shape possible for race day,” he said. “This is my fourth Olympics, but my first home Games, and it’s going to be an amazing experience and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us.”
Insidethegames.biz is a blog of the British Organizing Committee for the upcoming London Summer Olympics. This article is reprinted here with its express permission. The writer of this story can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.