Reprieved Millar is welcomed back for Olympics

Sir Chris Hoy insists he will give David Millar his 100 per cent backing for the Olympics but still believes there should be tougher sanctions for doping offences.

Millar has been selected for the initial eight-man squad for the men’s road race – he became eligible last month after the British Olympic Association were forced to drop their lifetime ban for doping offenders.

The 35-year-old was banned for two years in 2004 after admitting to taking the blood-boosting agent EPO, since when he has become a leading campaigner against drugs.

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Four-times gold medallist Hoy had supported the lifetime ban, but when asked about Millar’s inclusion yesterday stressed his backing.

Hoy said: “I will 100 per cent be standing behind whoever is part of the team. I’m comfortable with whoever is selected because they are eligible for the team, it has never been about individual athletes.

“For me it’s been about the future and having a meaningful deterrent against people thinking about taking drugs.

“Someone could be sitting thinking about Rio as a target and thinking it’s a risk worth taking as they could test positive, be banned and come back in time.”

Millar’s actual participation in the London Games has yet to be guaranteed – the eight-man squad will be reduced to a five-man team by June 29.

British Cycling’s performance director Dave Brailsford admitted he had considered, and would continue to do so, whether the possible interest surrounding Millar could be a negative influence on the team. Brailsford said: “For sure – as a selector you say ‘let’s have a look at the physical ability of everybody and then what impact will they have on the group dynamic’.

“After the Wimbledon final the gaze of the media will switch to the Games and one of the stories people could focus on is Dave participating in the first event on the first day.

“It would be remiss not to consider whether that would have a negative impact on the group dynamic or on themselves. You could argue that it could be such an emotional environment and challenging thing for Dave to go through that he might not cope with the whole thing, who knows?

“It’s evolving. At this moment in time he’s on the shortlist. We still have to choose the five.”

It would be a surprise if Millar were not chosen however – Mark Cavendish, whom Millar would support in his quest for gold, has already stated his desire to see him as part of the team.

Brailsford also said the cycling team has special responsibilities as hosts.

He added: “This is the third Olympic team I have selected and normally we are very focused about winning, and ruthlessly winning.

“But on this occasion there is a different dimension to it being host nation and it has made the selection committee think a little bit more about it.

“It is the first time we have ever picked a team for a home Olympics. The added dimension of the home Games does make this different and while we are focused on winning I do think the team has to take on a broader aspect for this Games, we want the nation to be proud of this Games and Britain’s competitors. Although all of the riders will fight tooth and nail to win it’s very important we do it in a fair-play way, in the right way without cheating and welcome our competitors. I think we would like people to be proud of us.”

The cycling team announced by Brailsford – including Barnsley-born Ed Clancy, Rotherham’s Ben Swift and Otley’s Lizzie Armitstead – has a number of members who have had strong differences of opinion in the past, but he said it was important those did not affect the team.

He said: “The team is like a family and we are going to have our squabbles and differences, and a family pulls together and it’s important that we do come together under the Union Jack.”

World No 1 Aaron Cook is preparing to take the British Olympic Association to the High Court in a bid to secure his place at London 2012.

At the third time of asking, the BOA ratified GB Taekwondo’s decision to select world No 59 Lutalo Muhammad ahead of Cook in the under-80 kilogram category.

Cook is furious, arguing he has been “cheated” out of his rightful place at the Olympics and that GB Taekwondo are “bringing the sport into disrepute”.

Following advice from Michael Beloff QC, Cook’s lawyers Harbottle and Lewis will send a pre-action letter to the BOA within the next 24 hours outlining their legal case.

That letter will include fresh evidence that the GB Taekwondo selection process was flawed, according to Cook’s management representative Jamie Cunningham.

If there is no progress from the BOA or the World Taekwondo Federation, who are undertaking their own review, by Monday then Cook will pursue his legal challenge in either the High Court or the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“Until it’s dead we are not giving up,” Cunningham said.

“It is a disgrace. We should be ashamed in this country that we have a world No 1 that is not going to the Olympics, particularly when UK Sport set a selection criteria about winning gold medals.

“We would prefer not to pursue any legal route. “