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Tuesday 07, Jan 2014

  Ex-Cyclist Reveals Reasons Behind Doping Confession

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Ex-Cyclist Reveals Reasons Behind Doping Confession

@Stuart O’Grady, an Olympic gold medalist in 2004 and winner of Paris-Roubaix in 2007, has revealed there was no turning back from a doping confession after he confessed to his team and family before a French Senate investigation ultimately tabled inconclusive evidence against him.

The retired Australian professional road bicycle racer insisted that he committed a one-off experiment with Erythropoietin (EPO) in the infamous 1998 Tour de France where some cyclists were jailed because of doping. O’Grady said he can comfortably sit back and he knew that no one can come along and say he had a positive test anywhere else and added his grandchildren won’t be hearing any news stories about his racing past in 100 years. The ex-cyclist said he won Paris-Roubaix and his Olympic gold medal plus all his other Tour de France successes clean and he is happy for all his tests ever taken after 1998 to be re-tested.

Stuart O’Grady remarked there was no incentive for him to come forward and face the consequences for doping before the French Senate investigation forced him to after the investigation released names of thirty riders who returned suspicious or positive urine samples in retrospective testing from 1998. O’Grady, who rode as a professional between 1995 and 2013, said he knew he would be implicated and didn’t know exactly what would be revealed. The cyclist was originally listed as a rider who returned a suspicious urine sample, but Stuart O’Grady decided to come clean to his family and Orica-GreenEDGE team boss Shayne Bannan.

Immediately after his doping confession, Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) had called O’Grady to resign from its Athletes’ Commission. Dave Sanders, who has mentored some of Australia’s finest road cyclists including Simon Gerrans and Cadel Evans, said the doping confession of Stuart O’Grady was his greatest disappointment in a lifetime working in the sport. One of Australia’s most experienced cycling coaches, Sanders said of all the things that have happened, it’s probably the biggest thing that’s just gutted him personally in his own soul as he thought Stuart as is the greatest – the greatest – all round cyclist that’s ever come out of Australia.

In the book (Green, Gold & Bold: Australia at the 100th Tour de France, written by Olympic cyclist-turned-race director John Trevorrow and journalist Ron Reed), O’Grady remarked people told him his test came back suspicious – not positive – and why didn’t he just tough it out but said there was no going back after he opened up to Shayne and his family. O’Grady recalls in the book he just didn’t want to be at the Tour and he knew it was time to retire and added he was dreading the Alpe d’Huez stage and wasn’t sure, but he knew there was a possibility his name would be there. O’Grady added he sourced EPO two weeks before his second Tour de France, without informing his French GAN team. He went on to add it was not systematic doping and he wasn’t trying to deceive people and he was basically trying to survive in what was a very grey area.

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Tuesday 30, Jul 2013

  Cycling Australia Shattered By O’Grady’s Doping Admission

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Cycling Australia Shattered By O’Grady’s Doping Admission

Cycling Australia (CA) says the doping admission of Australian cyclist Stuart O’Grady is a “real disappointment” but expressed confidence that cycling can regain public confidence.

The cyclist admitted to using the banned blood boosting agent Erythropoietin (EPO), just three days after he announced his retirement from cycling. The 39-year-old cyclist had been named in a French Senate inquiry into sports doping, which looked at the 1998 Tour and found the top three finishers, Italian Marco Pantani, Germany’s Jan Ullrich, and American Bobby Julich, were taking EPO. The cyclist remarked he used EPO in the 1998 Tour de France that was overshadowed by the Festina doping scandal. The celebrated cyclist recently announced his retirement after helping his GreenEdge team to a time trial victory in this year’s Tour, his 17th appearance tying the record of American George Hincapie. The Australian cyclist was among 12 riders whose tests were said to be “suspicious” and the 39-year-old did not waste time confirming he had used EPO.

Cycling Australia chief executive Graham Fredericks says his organization was shocked by O’Grady’s admission and added this is a real disappointment to us as a custodian of the sport. He added Cycling Australia can only take a fairly hard line in response to this news overnight. Immediately after his confession, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) called for him to resign from its Athletes’ Commission. However, his most recent professional team, GreenEDGE, released a statement supporting his decision to admit to doping, and said it is now O’Grady’s responsibility to help rebuild the public trust in the sport. The statement also said that one mistake should not tarnish an exceptional career.

A six-time Olympian and world champion on the track, O’Grady insisted his doping in 1998 was a one-off bad decision. Cycling Australia chief executive Graham Fredericks however said the decorated career of the cyclist would remain clouded and remarked Stuart has been one of Australia’s most enduring road riders who appear to have made a poor decision which will regrettably now have an impact on the legacy of his career.

The cyclist may be stripped of his Olympic medals after admitting to using performance enhancing drugs at the 1998 Tour de France. Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) spokesman Mike Tancred remarked it’s a matter for the international federation in regard to the medals, so the UCI (International Cycling Union) will consider the medals and they will then make some recommendation to the IOC (International Olympic Commission). O’Grady may also stand to lose his three national citations, which include an Order of Australia Medal awarded in 2005.

Cycling Australia however declined to condemn O’Grady, blaming the era and the European “environment”. In a statement, the governing body said the late 1990s was clearly a dark period in cycling’s international history. AOC president John Coates said in a statement remarked the “everybody else was doing it” line was no defense for cheating and remarked this was a shameful period for the sport of cycling which has been well documented, that is no excuse for the decision taken by Stuart O’Grady.

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Monday 29, Jul 2013

  Australian Cycling Legend Admits To Doping

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Australian Cycling Legend Admits To Doping

Stuart O’Grady has admitted to using banned blood-booster EPO before the 1998 Tour de France. Confession by the Australian cycling great comes just a few days after the 39-year-old Olympian and 17-time Tour rider announced his retirement from the sport, a day after completing a 17th Tour de France.

The 39-year-old equaled the record of American George Hincapie of 17 appearances in the Grande Boucle, the most prestigious cycling race in the world. At the time of announcing his retirement, the Orica-GreenEdge rider said he has always wanted his career to end with something truly special and this year’s Tour de France has given me that.

O’Grady won four Olympic track cycling medals from 1992 to 2004, including gold in the Madison in Athens. O’Grady also won Paris-Roubaix in 2007 and claimed victory in four Tour de France stages (including two individual stages and two team time trials) wearing the yellow jersey for three days in 1998 and six days in 2001, while winning the Tour Down Under in his homeland in 1999 and 2001.

The Australian cyclist admitted that he made a decision leading into the 1998 Tour de France and sourced EPO himself. He added that there was no one else involved and the team was not involved in any way and remarked he just had to drive over the border and purchase EPO at any pharmacy.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has called for O’Grady to resign from its Athletes’ Commission since the news broke.  The AOC released a statement in which it was confirmed that O’Grady has been asked to resign from the Athletes’ Commission. OC President John Coates said members of our London Olympic Team who elected Stuart to the Athletes’ Commission are entitled to be angry knowing they had supported an athlete who had cheated. Coates added that members of the athletes’ commission are chosen for their qualities of integrity and leadership and by his admission Stuart does not deserve to be a member of that group. The AOC President added that there was no excuse for O’Grady’s actions and the 1998 Tour was a shameful period for the sport of cycling which has been well documented, that is no excuse for the decision taken by Stuart O’Grady, and one can only hope that cycling and especially the Tour de France is cleaner as a result of today’s revelations and the Lance Armstrong saga.

The former track cyclist who won medals at three Olympics took the first of his four career Tour stage wins in 1998 in a race that was overshadowed by the Festina doping scandal. O’Grady was recently named in a French Senate inquiry into sports doping which looked at the 1998 Tour and found the top three finishers, Italian Marco Pantani, Germany’s Jan Ullrich, and American Bobby Julich, were taking EPO.

Meanwhile, O’Grady’s most recent team, Orica GreenEDGE, has released a statement supporting his decision, saying that one mistake should not tarnish an exceptional career. General manager Shayne Bannan remarked ORICA-GreenEDGE supports Stuart O’Grady’s decision to step forward and place the findings of the French Senate Report of today into perspective regarding his own past and added that like the majority of the riders in his generation, he was also exposed to the issues and wrongdoings of the sport and made some wrong choices in that environment.

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Saturday 22, Dec 2012

  Doping Was Never An Option For O’Grady

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Doping Was Never An Option For O’Grady

The doping admission of Matt White and his sacking has meant for difficult times at Orica GreenEdge, says Stuart O’Grady.

O’Grady is one of a handful of riders who may be interviewed for three of the separate Australian investigations that are presently stemming from the Reasoned Decision document by USADA on the lifetime ban on Lance Armstrong. The Australian stalwart said the Australian Anti-Doping Authority has already come knocking. The Australian Sports Commission, along with ASADA, has also mounted an inquiry led by Justice James Wood while Orica GreenEdge has begun its own investigations to deal more with internal procedures headed by the former World Anti-Doping Agency director, Nicki Vance.

O’Grady admitted that it is uncomfortable as he is getting asked a lot of questions for which he has absolutely no ideas and the feeling of uneasiness is because he is very happy with his career and what he achieved. O’Grady added that he has been available at the end of the day whenever they want to talk and he is glad to tell them everything he knows and said he can provide insights to his life though he has no answers to most of the questions that are asked.

O’Grady has ridden with some of the teams that have found themselves under the most scrutiny in recent memory, specifically Cofidis and CSC/Saxo Ban, throughout his career that lasted 18 years. O’Grady like former Saxo teammate Brad McGee before him, is adamant that despite the stigma, he saw no evidence of a doping culture. The 39-year-old said he was very lucky, very fortunate that doping was never an option in the teams he was involved in. He further added that the team bosses had a very different mentality to some others. O’Grady further added that the revelations of the use of performance enhancing drugs in cycling in the recent past had left him with “mixed emotions” but he overwhelmingly felt “disappointed in the sport” thanks primarily to the scale of the anti-doping infractions.

The release of the Reasoned Decision documentation by USADA resulted in the sacking of Orica GreenEdge sports director, Matt White, though the same evidence was in the public domain since 2010 when Floyd Landis sent an email to USA Cycling chief executive officer Steve Johnson. After the release of the USADA Reasoned Decision, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of all his titles. Sponsors of the cyclists shunned him and the governing body of cycling, the UCI, was no exception and remarked that Armstrong has no place in cycling.

O’Grady admitted when asked if he was happy about the way the team handled the fallout by USADA that it is difficult and said what gets decided by management is out of my league but added that the team is stronger than ever as a unit and a group of rider and it is more motivated than ever and want to come out firing next year by understanding that there is pressure from higher above that causes these types of decisions to be made but as a group of bike riders.

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