Hesjedal admits doping, says it was ‘short lived’ and more than ten years ago
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hesjedal admits doping, says it was ‘short lived’ and more than ten years ago

by Shane Stokes at 3:47 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Garmin-Sharp team states it supports 2012 Giro d’Italia winner, and that he testified to USADA

Ryder HesjedalRyder Hesjedal has commented in the wake of allegations made today by Michael Rasmussen against him and fellow Canadian riders Seamus McGrath and Chris Sheppard, admitting that he used banned substances in the past.

“Cycling is my life and has been ever since I can remember. I have loved and lived this sport but more than a decade ago, I chose the wrong path,” he said in a statement released a short while ago by his Garmin-Sharp team.

“And even though those mistakes happened more than ten years ago, and they were short-lived, it does not change the fact that I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since. To everyone in my life, inside and outside the sport – to those that have supported me and my dreams – including my friends, my family, the media, fans, my peers, sponsors – to riders who didn't make the same choices as me all those years ago, I sincerely apologize for my part in the dark past of the sport. I will always be sorry.”

An excerpt from Rasmussen’s new book Yellow Fever was printed today by the Danish publication BT, and included claims that the three Canadian riders were coached in how to use EPO and Synacthen ten years ago.

Rasmussen said that they stayed with him in the buildup to that year’s world mountainbike championships, using the banned substances and ending up with haematocrit levels over 48 percent, and close to the UCI limit of 50.

“They stayed around fourteen days time. I trained with them in the Dolomites and taught them how to made vitamin injections and how you took EPO and Synacthen [cortisone],” he stated.

Hesjedal finished second in that year’s worlds.

The national cycling federation Cycling Canada stated today that the alleged offences happened outside the eight year statute of limitations, thus preventing sanctions, but called on anyone with knowledge of doping to speak out.

Hesjedal stated in his statement that he ahead already done that.

“Although I stopped what I was doing many years before I joined Slipstream Sports, I was and am deeply grateful to be a part of an organization that makes racing clean its first priority and that supports athletes for telling the truth. I believe that being truthful will help the sport continue to move forward, and over a year ago when I was contacted by anti-doping authorities, I was open and honest about my past,” he stated.

This has been echoed by the Garmin-Sharp team, which included several riders who gave testimony to the US Anti Doping Agency when it was building a case against Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service/Discovery Channel team.

Hesjedal was a member of that setup in 2004 and 2005, but was not part of its Grand Tour teams. He then moved to the Phonak team in 2006 and the Healthnet Maxis team in 2007 before moving to his current team structure in 2008.

“As we have said from the beginning, Slipstream Sports was created because we wanted to build a team where cyclists could compete 100% clean,” said his current team in the same statement. “And, as we have previously stated, our expectation is that anyone in our organization contacted by any anti-doping authority must be open and honest with that authority. Ryder is no exception and a year ago when he was contacted he cooperated fully and truthfully testified to USADA and CCES. For this reason and because of our desire for 100% truth and reconciliation in the sport of cycling, we support him.”

Hesjedal won the Giro d’Italia in 2012 but his statement today insists that it is many years since he used banned substances. He said that cycling has changed, implying that it is possible to win big races clean.

“I have seen the best and the worst of the sport and I believe that it is now in the best place it’s ever been. I look at young riders on our team and throughout the peloton, and I know the future of the sport has arrived,” he stated. “I'm glad that they didn’t have to make the same choices I did, and I will do everything I can to continue to help the sport that I love.”

Today’s admission follows confessions last year from Garmin-Sharp team-mates Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde and Dave Zabriskie, who all admitted using banned substances in the past. Although they are American and Hesjedal is Canadian, the Garmin-Sharp team may be under pressure on to explain why Hesjedal did not also make a public statement at the time.

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