Belgian Marcel Six, who rides under a British licence, has been given an 18 month suspension for refusing to take a doping test after a round of the Halfords Tour Series on 31 May 2012.
Six, who rides for British team Metaltek-Scott, has been banned from 28 September 2012 to 27 March 2014 by UK Anti-Doping (full ruling here). His team has since dismissed him for "gross misconduct".
According to UKAD rules, refusing to take a test is a violation of the rules and is normally subject to a two year ban. This can be reduced to a minimum of one year provided the athlete can show 'compelling justification' to refuse the test or show 'no significant fault or negligence' in the case of an accidentally missed test.
In his defence, Six argued that he had only decided to race at the last minute and had to get home to tend to his wife and sick children. The UKAD panel didn't consider this 'compelling justification' to reduce the ban to one year.
The panel said: "Honourable though the Athlete’s motives may have been, we have no hesitation in finding that his refusal was not based on any compelling justification. To be blunt, even if he agreed to race only at the last minute and under pressure, the fact of the matter is that, if he had time to compete in a cycle race, he had to make time to take the test. If, as was later the case, he wished to put his family first, then the time to do that was before he agreed to race rather than when he came to be tested."
The panel did, however, agree to reduce the ban from two years to 18 months as they deemed Six was able to demonstrate "No Significant Fault or Negligence" in refusing the test.
The panel reasoned: "In short, our decision on this finely balanced issue is that the Claimant has established that his clear motivation was to go urgently to the aid of his family whom he believed to be in significant distress with the potential for harm to the health of his wife and possibly also his children. Putting his family first in this way was not, as we have already held, compelling justification, but accepting his motivation as we do, we are able to say he has behaved without significant fault."
UK Anti-Doping Chief Executive Andy Parkinson said: “To fail to comply with sample collection is a serious violation of the anti-doping rules. Testing remains integral to our work and the consequences of failing to provide a sample warrant sufficiently stiff penalties.
“The message to clean athletes is that when anti-doping authorities request a sample, athletes need to do everything they can to cooperate.”
Marcel's team, Metaltek-SCOTT, released a statement that supported both the rider and the ban: "We have found Marcel to be nothing but professional this year and he would not wish to tarnish his name, cherished family and our Team. He of course accepts the outcome of UKAD and the consequences of his actions that evening.
" As a Team we welcome everything UKAD is doing for the good of the sport and will continue to support them."
UPDATE: On October 29, Metaltek-SCOTT announced that "Marcel Six has been dismissed from the Team for gross misconduct; this is following the ruling of UKAD on Friday 26th October for refusing to give a urine sample back in May."