Commonwealth Games 2018: Mark Cavendish forced to withdraw through injury

Mark Cavendish

Cavendish was due to compete in the men’s road race on the Gold Coast

Mark Cavendish has withdrawn from the Isle of Man team set to compete at the Commonwealth Games in April.

The 32-year-old had suffered two bad crashes at races in March and will no longer be travelling to Australia.

He said he was “hugely disappointed to have to withdraw”.

Cavendish, a 30-time Tour de France stage winner – the second highest in race history – claimed Commonwealth gold for the Isle of Man at the 2006 Games.

He was due to compete in the men’s road race on the Gold Coast.

“I am immensely proud to represent the Isle of Man and was looking forward to a successful Games with the team,” he added.

“However, unfortunately it’s just come a little too soon in my recovery.”

On 7 March, Cavendish fractured a rib and sustained injuries to his knees, hips, hands on the opening stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy.

On his return, he suffered another fractured rib and ankle damage after crashing heavily into a bollard in the final 10km of the Milan-San Remo on Saturday.

His team – Team Dimension Data – said he had “avoided any serious, long term injury and is now working hard to recover”, adding that he “hopes to be back racing within a matter of weeks rather than months”.

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‘No excuses’ for anything other than equal prize money

Lizzie Deignan

Deignan won the Tour de Yorkshire for the first time in 2017 but she will not race again before 2019

There can be “no excuses” for anything other than equal prize money and coverage for women’s cycling, says Great Britian’s Lizzie Deignan.

The 29-year-old, world road race champion in 2015 and an Olympic silver medallist in 2012, said the success of the women’s Tour de Yorkshire event meant other races should follow suit.

The Tour de Yorkshire in 2016 offered what was then the largest ever prize fund for a women’s race – £55,500 – while also introducing live television coverage equal to the men’s event.

“We’re now at a point where we can’t go backwards,” Deignan said.

“Events like the Tour de Yorkshire are setting a precedent for how races can be now and there are no excuses anymore that anyone will accept.

“There is clearly an appetite on both the men’s and women’s side so it is things like this that can be a catalyst for change.”

This year the total prize money for the Women’s Tour of Britain was more than doubled to bring it level with the men’s event at 90,000 euro (£78,500).

While the total prize fund of cycling’s most prestigious men’s race – the 21-stage Tour de France – was about 2.3m euro (£2m) last year.

The women’s equivalent – La Course – was last year contested over two stages with a total prize fund of 27,700 euro (£24,150).

Deignan, who won the Tour de Yorkshire in 2017, earlier in March announced that she is expecting her first child in September.

She has said she plans to return to racing in 2019, and hopes to use her time out of competition to push for greater equality in her sport.

“Cycling has given me so much and it would be good to give back,” she added.

“There is no one answer to change everything. For me the most positive thing is that we keep moving forward. I think it’s about small steps being made.”

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Mechanical doping: UCI to announce use of X-ray cameras on Grand Tour stages

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Doped bikes: An example of how it works

X-ray cameras will be used on Grand Tour stages and Classic races this season to prevent riders hiding motors in their bikes.

It is one of a raft measures being announced by the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Wednesday in the fight against technological fraud.

Anyone found guilty of a breach will face a minimum ban of six months, plus a fine of up to $210,000 (£150,000).

Thermal cameras have been used in the past two Tours de France.

  • Read more: Can you really ‘dope’ a bicycle?

UCI president David Lappartient promised new measures to tackle “mechanical doping” when he was elected in September 2017.

“I will be focused on guaranteeing the credibility of the results, especially on technological fraud,” he said at the time.

The first proven case of ‘mechanical doping’ saw Belgium’s Femke van den Driessche banned for six years in 2016.


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Doping in sport: Dr Richard McLaren supports keeping TUEs

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We did not cross the ethical line – Wiggins

Athletes should be allowed to take otherwise banned drugs for medical reasons, says the man who investigated state-sponsored doping in Russia.

Dr Richard McLaren said therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) “have a place in sport”.

But he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme they “need to be policed carefully” by medical practitioners.

A recent report by MPs claimed cycling outfit Team Sky and Sir Bradley Wiggins – Britain’s most decorated Olympian and a Tour de France winner – had used TUEs to enhance performance.

Both Sky and Wiggins strongly rejected the findings of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, which said they “crossed an ethical line” by obtaining TUEs for boosting performance and not medical need.

  • Sir Bradley Wiggins Team Sky ‘crossed ethical line’ – doping in sport report
  • I am 100% not a cheat – Wiggins

Canadian law professor and sports lawyer McLaren’s report concluded 1,000 athletes across 30 sports benefited from Russia’s doping programme between 2011 and 2015.

It led to Russia being partially banned from the 2016 Olympics in Rio, while the country incurred a blanket ban for the Paralympics in 2016 and the 2018 Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics in South Korea.

However, athletes from Russia could compete as neutrals at Pyeongchang 2018 if they could prove they were clean. Following the Games, the International Olympic Committee suggested the ban would be lifted on the condition there are no further doping violations.

“There’s nothing wrong legally with the prescription of the TUE,” McLaren said. “It’s the way it’s being used and that’s where the ethics come into it.

“The athlete has to use it on the basis that it’s granted by the medical personnel and not abuse it.”

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Wiggins, who is an asthmatic, was granted TUEs to take the corticosteroid triamcinolone – which can treat allergies and respiratory issues – shortly before the 2011 Tour de France, his 2012 Tour win and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

However, his former team-mate at Team Sky, Geraint Thomas, says “it would be a lot simpler just to get rid” of TUEs.

That view was described as “extremely short-sighted” by Phil Southerland, whose first all-diabetic professional cycling, Team Novo Nordisk, all race with TUEs for insulin.

David Lappartient, the president of world cycling’s governing body the UCI, has said the fallout from the Team Sky saga had reinforced his concerns about the use of TUEs.

He has called on the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to ban corticosteroids and painkiller tramadol, a stance supported by the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC).

Members of the MPCC, a voluntary anti-doping union involving seven of the 18 World Tour professional teams, choose not to compete for eight days after being treated with corticosteroids, even when they have been given a TUE. Team Sky is not a member.

The issue about the use of TUEs was exposed when a group of hackers, known as Fancy Bears, started releasing the medical records of some of the world’s biggest sports stars, stolen from the Wada database.

They claimed TUEs were “licences for doping”.

Russian sports being held ‘hostage’

Meanwhile, Russia’s sports minister Pavel Kolobkov told the TASS news agency that the country’s “sports remains hostage”, despite the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) overturning the Olympic life bans of 28 Russian athletes.

Cas said that in 28 cases evidence was “insufficient” to prove doping, a decision International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach called “extremely disappointing and surprising”.

“When 28 of our athletes were cleared, the decision was made by an independent court, it was a meaningful judicial process, involving witnesses, our athletes, experts and testimonies provided by McLaren and [whistleblower Grigory] Rodchenkov,” said Kolobkov.

“The decision speaks for itself, they have been cleared by professional judges.

“If they demand that we recognise the McLaren report, it means there is no evidence and demands are taking the place of real evidence.”

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Geraint Thomas’ view cycling should scrap TUEs ‘extremely short-sighted’

Geraint Thomas celebrates with the yellow leaders jersey during stage two of the 2017 Tour de France

Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas says getting rid of TUEs “would get rid of the grey area”

Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas’ view that therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) should be scrapped in cycling has been described as “extremely short-sighted”.

Phil Southerland – who founded Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetic professional cycling team – said he “fully disagreed” with Thomas.

All of Team Novo Nordisk’s riders race with TUEs for insulin.

Southerland said it was “sad to read yet another high-profile figure lacking the proper knowledge on the subject.”

Welshman Thomas was speaking to BBC Wales Sport after an MPs’ report said Team Sky “crossed an ethical line” by using drugs allowed under anti-doping rules to enhance performance instead of just for medical purposes.


Phil Southerland says TUEs are “a great concept” and need to be “ethically respected”

Thomas said he had never used a TUE and it “would be a lot simpler just to get rid of them”.

“If someone’s had a TUE, it’s the opposite of doping. They’ve had the go-ahead from the powers that be to use that substance,” he said.

“But this is what’s bringing up the whole ethical debate, so in my eyes it would just be easier to get rid of them.

“In my eyes, if you suffer so severely from asthma or allergies that over-the-counter medications, or medications that don’t require TUEs such as salbutamol can’t control, it’s unfortunate but maybe your body isn’t built for the rigours of professional sport”.

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We did not cross the ethical line – Wiggins

What are therapeutic use exemptions?

A TUE allows an athlete, for medical reasons, to take a prescribed substance or undergo treatment that is otherwise prohibited.

British athletes must contact their national governing body or follow UK Anti-Doping guidance before applying for a TUE.

There are strict criteria for one to be granted:

  • The athlete would suffer significant health problems without taking the substance.
  • It would not be significantly performance-enhancing
  • There is no reasonable therapeutic alternative to its use
  • The need to use it is not due to prior use without a TUE



Team Novo Nordisk was established in 2008 to “inspire, educate and empower” people affected by diabetes”

Southerland, a type one diabetic, said he could see Thomas’ reasoning “due to the current turmoil around Team Sky” but he “completely disagreed with his viewpoint”.

“As a 12-year-old, if I hadn’t been able to dream about racing my bike, I’m not sure what my life would’ve looked like,” said the American.

“The bike allowed me to dream big and I’ve been trying to pay this message forward for my entire life.”

He said there is a need for TUEs in cycling to treat an illness or a sickness, but they should “never been used to improve performance or even to push a grey area”.

Team Novo Nordisk race on the International Cycling Union (UCI) Professional Continental tour, and compete in major professional races around the world.

Its sixteen professional riders all have type one diabetes and need insulin injections to survive.

But insulin is on the prohibited substance list because athletes who do not have diabetes have abused it in the past as it can improve recovery and performance.

‘Without it, we die’


Team Novo Nordisk has a 16-man professional team and a 10-man development team

Sam Brand is Team Novo Nordisk’s only British rider.

The 27-year-old, from the Isle of Man, said: “We are simply taking a substance that our bodies no longer produce. This is a substance that every other athlete I am racing against is naturally producing.

“We only take insulin to bring ourselves up to a level playing ground… without it, we die.”

Brand said it was easy for Thomas to say TUEs should be scrapped, but a “blanket removal” was not the answer.

“It highlights the lack of understanding behind a valid TUE. We should be calling for the removal and eradication of the abuse and grey area,” he said.

Setting the record straight


Brand said the abuse of TUEs brings “a bad light” to athletes who are using one for a valid reason

Southerland said since Team Novo Nordisk’s inception eight years ago, they have always been “proud and thankful” they race with type one diabetes and TUEs.

“We are eager to be a part of this conversation and want to set the record straight by showing the valid and positive side of TUE usage,” he said.

But he said the system was open for abuse and they want to “eliminate the grey area”.

“Anyone using a TUE for marginal gains, performance-enhancement reasons, or pushing the limits into the grey area creates a huge negative perception around sport and can damage the reputation of the athletes who have a vital need for a long-term TUE.

“The good news is that thanks to all the attention this grey area is garnering because of the Team Sky conversation, I feel we can finally and quickly move towards a solution.

“The system needs to be more black and white, and I’m sure Sky would appreciate resolution on this as much as we would.”


It has become very competitive to earn a spot on Team Novo Nordisk

Southerland said the solution is not about eliminating TUEs, but getting “consistency”.

“The process to apply and gain approval for a TUE is never simple, easy or straightforward,” he said.

Brand said it took him “months of deliberation, letters and tests to prove he had type one diabetes”.

Southerland said they need a “consistent and fair process that’s applied (potentially by a medical board), as well as reviews… this hopefully would eliminate the problems, bureaucracy and knee-jerk reactions calling for the end to all TUEs”.

Brand added a lot of TUEs are issued as emergencies during races, and these “should at least be as challenging to receive” as his was.

“I believe a change to that system is that if you need an emergency TUE in order to recover during a race you cannot continue that race,” added Brand.

“Another option would be to at least have more investigation and make it more challenging to hand out an emergency TUE.

“Fundamentally, the system needs to be tougher, tighter and more ridged.”

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