I agree with what you say in general, and think it´s sensible.
But I would like you to explain this comment to me:
>>> I don't buy the 'three years out' excuse for one simple reason - he's no longer been away for three years. <<<
Do you think, that in any sport somebody can stop for 3 years, come back and be still at the top of their game? (without the possibility for training/testing)
That would rather surprise me.
Would it be resonable to think, that (as an example) Roger Federer stop playing tennis for 3 years, then come back only plays
10 matches (no training/testing) and goes on and wins a grand slam?
Not really a valid comparison, is it? I mean, Federer WOULD have 'training' and in terms of fitness we were assured last year that Michael was as fit as ever.
I don't think the comment needs 'explaining'; at the star of the season it was a passable excuse - Michael had been away for three years - but now it's not, as he hasn't. We can't go on excusing him for having been away for ever.