Devon cyclist Jonathan Tiernan-Locke has withdrawn from racing after being notified of possible discrepancies in his biological passport data by the sport’s global governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI).
Tiernan-Locke joined Team Sky in January after a successful 2012 which included overall victory at the Tour of Britain last year.
The 28-year-old withdrew from yesterday’s elite men’s road race at the Road World Championships in Florence, Italy, where he had been selected to ride for Great Britain, after receiving the information from the UCI.
The UCI screens the blood values of riders as part of its efforts to clamp down on doping in the sport.
Team Sky have confirmed the data being scrutinised in relation to Tiernan-Locke comes from the period immediately before he joined the British squad from his previous team, Endura.
A statement from Team Sky released yesterday read: “Team Sky has been informed by Jonathan Tiernan-Locke that the UCI has notified him of a potential discrepancy in his biological passport data.
“He has withdrawn from racing while his response to the UCI is prepared then considered by the UCI. We have no doubts over his performance, behaviour or tests at Team Sky and understand any anomaly is in readings taken before he joined the team.
“Team Sky has tried to respect what should be a confidential process, allowing the rider to explain in private, without prejudice, and the anti-doping authorities to do their valuable job.
“At this stage in the ongoing process we will not add any further detail.”
A British Cycling spokesman added: “It is not our policy to discuss individual cases until they are concluded and all appeals heard. Until then, information is considered personal and confidential and its release is at the discretion of the athlete.
“We remain committed to respecting what should be a confidential process which allows the anti-doping authorities to do their job in the right way and an individual the chance to explain privately and without prejudice.”
Newly-elected UCI president Brian Cookson, who was able to defeat incumbent Pat McQuaid in last Friday’s vote after pledging to restore credibility to the sport in the wake of a series of damaging drugs scandals, told BBC Sport: “I think this underlines why anti-doping has got to be independent from the UCI and I certainly won’t be interfering in this process at all.
“I wouldn’t have done when I was British Cycling president, and I won’t now I’m UCI president. It’s important that it is handled properly and with integrity under the processes that are laid down.
“I am concerned that it has leaked, because I don’t think this information should be in the public domain while someone is being questioned. That’s not the same at all as them being guilty.”
After winning the Tour of Britain for Endura in 2012, Tiernan-Locke went on to make his debut at the Road World Championships in last year’s edition of the event in the Netherlands.
The Devonian achieved a fine finishing position of 19th in the elite men’s road race last September, five seconds behind the winner, Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert, and his two-year contract with Sky was signed a month later.