MICHAEL MORKOV feared he had spread coronavirus to his Danish team-mates and the rest of the world’s leading track cyclists.
The 34-year-old Quick-Step Floors star spent more than 34 hours in a hotel room under quarantine during the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin.
Two-time world champion Morkov flew to the German capital on Thursday from the UAE Tour, which was later cancelled over fears two Italian staff members had contracted the virus.
All 167 tests taken in Abu Dhabi, including samples from Brits Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish, have returned negative, which means riders, staff and journalists will be free to fly home.
Morkov celebrated the world-record performance by Denmark in the men’s team pursuit and then feared the worse when he was told to self-isolate.
He said: "When I came here and I went to the Velodrome watching the guys break the world record in the team pursuit, there were no coronavirus rumours.
"Then I’m coming back to the hotel and we hear this rumour. I realised that I could be a potential carrier of the virus and obviously I was thinking about us hugging a hundred times over there.
"I was feeling really guilty that I might have brought this virus to other people and team-mates. It is not a nice feeling even though I know I couldn’t have done anything about it. I decided it was better to stay in the room for safety reasons.
I was feeling really guilty that I might have brought this virus to other people and team-mates.
"Personally I wouldn’t be feeling well if I jeopardised anybody with the risk of bringing this virus around me.
"I was really nervous it would drag on and we would have to postpone the decision until tomorrow morning which would make it really difficult for racing. So, it is a big relief to be clear."
Morkov, who was released at 8.30am on Saturday morning, spent his time in confinement talking with colleagues, family and friends on the phone and training on rollers in his room.
The 2008 Olympic silver medal-winning team pursuiter is set to compete in Sunday’s Madison and reckons this experience will not have disrupted his preparations.
He added: "Before some races, you are just sitting in hotel rooms and training on home trainers, so one day is quite easy.
"I’m more thinking and reading the news about the guys sitting around for 14 days and we know all about the ship in Japan.
"That must be horrible compared to what I’ve done.
"Yesterday the hours and the minutes went very slow because we really needed a decision, but I think the UCI handed it really well, they took their precautions."
A UCI statement said: “According to an official statement issued by the Emirate’s health authorities on Saturday, the tests were all negative for 167 people in quarantine.
"The person who has been in the UAE for the past few days and who is currently in Berlin, has been subject to preventive quota measures, despite the absence of any clinical signs suggesting Covid-19.
"The rider present in Berlin is currently in excellent health, with no suspicious clinical signs, and we are also guaranteed that he has not contacted the two members of the management of a team participating in the UAE Tour, originally suspected of coronavirus.
"Based on these elements, the UCI and the Organising Committee have judged that the person who has been the subject of prophylactic measures is not at risk.
"The latter is therefore free in his movements and activities, including within the velodrome."
Formula One races, including Grands Prix in Australia, Vietnam, Bahrain and China, are already at risk.
Even the Olympic Games – set to be held in Tokyo, Japan, this summer – could be cancelled due to the deadly illness.
This summer's Euro 2020 tournament, hosted across the entire continent, is also in jeopardy.
And Fifa President Gianni Infantino says the world governing body could step in to cancel next month’s England international friendlies because of the coronavirus.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have banned journalists who are suffering from a cough from attending press conferences.
Across North London, Tottenham star Son Heung-min has been forced to self-isolate for two weeks following his return from South Korea.
And at West Ham, David Moyes has banned hand shakes, forcing players to fist-bump and use anti-bacterial hand gel in a bid to stay safe.
Newcastle, too, have imposed a ban on their own players shaking hands with others in an attempt to prevent any cross contamination within their club.
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