Dave Brailsford willing to pick David Millar if Olympic ban is quashed

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The British Cycling performance director, Dave Brailsford, will consider David Millar for a place at the London Games if, as expected, the British Olympic Association next week loses its battle to retain its lifetime ban for drug cheats.

Senior BOA officials are increasingly resigned to the fact that the court of arbitration for sport is next week expected to throw out its appeal against the World Anti-Doping Agency's decision to rule its lifetime ban for drug cheats non-compliant with its global universal code.

Both Brailsford and the UK Athletics head coach, Charles van Commenee, for whom the sprinter Dwain Chambers will be available if the ban is lifted, said on Friday they would pick the strongest team available to them.

Brailsford backs the idea of a consistent global anti-doping policy and he also wants lifetime bans for premeditated drug cheats. But, if Millar is available, then he would be in contention for selection.

"My job is to pick the fastest team, the best team that can win that race in London. It is not my job to decide if somebody is eligible or not," said Brailsford, who helped support Millar after he was banned for two years in 2004 for injecting EPO.

"I will get shown a list of people who are eligible, then I will look at performance and decide who is most likely to get the result and I will pick them."

Mark Cavendish, who won the world road cycling championships last year in Copenhagen in a team featuring Millar, has also backed the Scot to race at the Games. Cavendish said: "I would love Dave to be on the start line. Dave Millar captained our team to the world championships win last year in Copenhagen. I would love him to be in the Olympic Games. He is a loyal team-mate, he is very physically good and experienced. He would make a massive difference to our team. There are no radios allowed in the Olympic Games and you have to be able to read a race and know what is going on."

The Olympic road race will throw up different challenges from the world championships because each nation will have a smaller team, which makes it harder to control the race. That is where Cavendish believes Millar's experience, in addition to his own and that of Bradley Wiggins, would count in Britain's favour.

"In Copenhagen we took the race and we controlled how it went. We had eight guys and we controlled how the 200 best bike riders in the world rode that race," Cavendish said. With less guys it is not possible so you have to take it much more on control and how you race your slot in the race. That takes a wealth of experience."

Brailsford said he would consider Millar for selection despite proposing a new range of sanctions that would have seen the cyclist, who has become a committed campaigner against drugs in sport, banned for life if they had been in place when he was suspended.

"I think Wada is important and a global consistency is important," Brailsford said. "If we get consistency, then we need to look at the sanctions and I think they need to become more severe. I would, without a doubt, try and encourage Wada to review their sanctions.

Brailsford proposed a lifetime ban for premeditated blood doping, a six-year ban for "contaminates or the misuse of certain substances" and a C-category with discretionary penalties for "minor infringements".

Van Commenee said that he would discuss the situation once the CAS verdict had been announced: "We'll keep that behind closed doors and discuss it with the relevant people. I'll have to work with the athletes who are there, end of story."

Chambers will want to digest the full verdict before deciding whether to put himself forward for selection but is considered likely to do so.

His agent and lawyer, Siza Agha, said: "In my view the opinions of the BOA, Wada, myself or anyone else is not relevant at this stage regarding the possible outcome. The only opinion that matters will be contained in the ruling of the three arbitrators charged with the responsibility of determining the BOA appeal."Millar, currently recovering from a broken collarbone, has been more equivocal about whether he will compete saying he will race in London only if he feels that he has the support of his team-mates and the public.

"Is it a stronger message if I don't go, is it a stronger message if I do go and perhaps try to change people's opinion that forgiveness should be offered?" he told BBC Scotland last month. "I've nailed myself to a few crosses and I'm not sure if I'm prepared to go for the final big one on this."

The BOA chief executive, Andy Hunt, this week told the Guardian that Chambers and Millar, both banned for two years in 2004 for doping offences, would be welcomed back into the fold if it lost its appeal.

"If we were to lose, we will absolutely embrace any athletes that are able to compete as a result of the bylaw potentially falling away," he said. "We will set the tone. I hope that by setting the leadership tone in that way it will be reflected by the team."

The BOA has argued for stronger penalties for drug cheats, including at least one Olympics or major championships, in its written submission for to Wada's code review.

But others in the global anti-doping movement have warned that a move to a blanket four-year ban might put the "strict liability" principle that underpins Wada's code at risk of legal challenge.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Owen Gibson, for guardian.co.uk on Friday 20th April 2012 22.40 Europe/London

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