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By GERALD IMRAY,
Updated July 4, 2012
LONDON (AP) David Millar called his selection for the British Olympic cycling team "surreal" on Wednesday, joining sprinter Dwain Chambers and shot putter Carl Myerscough as former doping offenders who had lifetime Olympic bans overturned.
The 35-year-old Millar, selected for the 250-kilometer (155-mile) road race, can compete at the Olympics after missing out in 2004 and 2008 because of a life ban by the British Olympic Association for taking the blood-boosting substance EPO. That sanction was rescinded this year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Mark Cavendish, Chris Foome, Ian Stannard and three-time Olympic gold medalist Bradley Wiggins will join Millar in the road race.
"It's exciting. I can start arranging my post-Tour de France now," Millar said before the fourth stage of the Tour. "It means a lot. It's a lot different for me than other competitors in that it was an event that I wrote off many years ago.
"I've already missed two (Olympics). The first one I was in a drunken haze and as far away from the world of sport as humanly possible, but in Beijing (in 2008) it was pretty hard to avoid how hard it was not being there."
Millar wasn't included for the 44-kilometer (27-mile) time trial, where Wiggins and Foome will ride for Britain.
Like Chambers and Myerscough, who were picked for the athletics team Tuesday, Millar served an international suspension for his doping offense but had his lifetime sanction overturned at CAS, sport's top court, in April.
Millar had to overcome illness to be ready for the start of the Tour de France, Team GB said, but it still included him for the Olympics where he'll try to help Cavendish to the gold medal in the road race on July 28.
"I made the right decision to put myself up and I'm very proud that the team has seen that I won't be a hindrance and that I can be a positive influence," Millar said.
Millar was part of the British team that built Cavendish's triumph at the world championships last year. The ace sprinter strongly backed Millar's inclusion in the Olympic squad.
"He believed I deserved to go," Millar said. "And I think that went beyond his need for me. I think he is actually pleased that I have the right to do it."
Millar thought twice about his decision to make himself available for selection, fearing his inclusion could backfire and hamper the whole team's ambitions.
"There was a risk that I might become a negative story in the buildup to the games," he said. "All of a sudden, it would have been about Millar the drug cheat. I'd like to think the ride has turned slightly and people are starting to understand more of my full story and my reasons for going and that will calm that negative turmoil beforehand."
Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters, the man who helped Millar relaunch his career by hiring him at the end of the 2007 season, was pleased to see his protege being given "a second chance."
"If we all accept that we are humans and not inherently perfect, you have to accept that everyone deserves a second chance, and that everyone deserves to prove themselves in front of the fans and people. That's a fundamental value for me."
Wiggins, meanwhile, is aiming to be the first British winner of the yellow jersey at the ongoing Tour before returning home for the London Games. He'll also support Cavendish in the road race before trying for a fourth gold medal at his fourth games.
The 32-year-old Wiggins has switched to road cycling after a successful Olympic track career, in which he won successive golds in the individual pursuit in 2004 and 2008. He also was a gold medalist in the team pursuit in Beijing four years ago.
"We've got a good chance to win the road race with Cav (Cavendish) and it's a London Olympics which makes it very special," Wiggins said in a statement. "I've also got a chance to go for my fourth gold medal in the time trial."
Steve Cummings, Ben Swift and Jeremy Hunt didn't make the final selection after they were in an initial eight-man training squad. Cummings, who rides for Tour de France champion Cadel Evans' BMC Racing team, had been tipped for a spot.
"The final selection for the men's road race was a tough choice as we had a really strong squad of riders to pick from," British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford said. "We have selected the five riders who we believe are on the best form and will give us the fastest team for the race."
AP Sports Writer Samuel Petrequin in Rouen, France, contributed to this report.