Lizzie Armitstead says she can look fellow Olympic athletes in the eye
By Mark Crellin
Last Updated: 05/08/16 9:06am
British cyclist Lizzie Armitstead says she missed a doping test earlier this year because she found herself in "a very difficult situation".
The world road race champion says she can look her fellow athletes in the eye on the start-line in Rio on Sunday because she has never doped.
Speaking to Sky Sports News HQ, the 27-year-old explained how she almost came to miss out on the Olympics.
Having won silver in the road race at London 2012, Armitstead has been cleared to compete in Rio after successfully appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against an anti-doping charge.
Armitstead was charged by UKAD with three whereabouts failures on July 11, leading to a suspension, pending disciplinary action.
However, her appeal was successful because the CAS ruled that the UK Anti-Doping's (UKAD) doping control officer had failed to follow procedure on the first of the three 'failures'.
Armitstead has been questioned in some quarters for not doing more to ensure the third 'failure' did not take place.
In an emotional interview, Armitstead explained: "I understand, I would be one of those [questioning] athletes too. I was obsessive, it was all I thought about.
"I have not slept with my phone on silent since, I put my room number in every hotel I go to, I double check, I look at my phone every night, every morning, and then on the 9th of June I didn't do that.
"At that time, being an athlete was not my priority. I was in a very difficult situation, and it is not something that I want to discuss with the media, I just don't feel that I should have to."
Armitstead is now looking towards her race in Rio and added: "The one thing that has kept me going through this whole process is being able to ride my bike, it is what I love doing and it is the place where I feel calm and happy.
"I think when I get a number on, I will be OK.
"This is horrible but I will get through it and I have perspective on it. There are much worse things happening.
"I am not a victim and I don't need to behave like one."
Asked if she was expecting animosity from fellow riders, she added: "I have had animosity from so many corners at the moment and, if I took everything personally, I would break and I can't allow myself to do that.
"I can look every one of my competitors in the eye, because I have not doped.
"I have never cheated anybody out of a victory, I have worked hard for every single race that I have won.
"I don't know how a [possible] medal round my neck is going to feel. For the rest of my life, I realise people are going to ask questions of me but, at the end of the day, I am a clean athlete and I have worked hard.
"I would celebrate that medal with the people who believe in me."