Stuart O’Grady and Jacky Durand — both listed in a report on doping from the French Senate on Wednesday — have confessed to having used banned blood booster EPO during their careers.
The report, which focused on doping across multiple sports, identified Durand as having provided a positive sample for EPO at the 1998 Tour de France. Durand, now a commentator for Eurosport, published a response, in which he expressed his hope that today’s riders not be discredited over his generation’s doping, on the international broadcaster’s website.
“You have to take responsibility for your own actions. I have always said that for many years whether it was to young riders, journalists or my employers,” wrote Durrand.
“At the time we the riders could hear the alarm bells sounding. We all agreed that our samples could be retained for a time when there was enhanced research regarding the detection of EPO. In the late ’90s the peloton was a shooting gallery. Everybody was doping and nobody knew how to get out.”
Stuart O’Grady, a starter of every Tour since 1997, confessed on Wednesday to having used EPO, two days after announcing his retirement. After playing a key role for Bjarne Riis’ CSC team from 2006-2010, O’Grady rode his final Tour in service of Orica-GreenEdge, with whom he won the stage 4 team time trial and defended the yellow jersey for Simon Gerrans and Daryl Impey.
O’Grady was listed in the French report as having submitted a suspicious sample, and he confessed to the co-author of his forthcoming autobiography, Reece Homfray of the Adelaide Advertiser.
“I made a decision,” O’Grady told Homfray. “I sourced it (EPO) myself, there was no else involved, it didn’t involve the team in any way.”
According to O’Grady, he used EPO prior to the 1998 Tour, but never again.
“When the Festina Affair happened, I smashed it, got rid of it and that was the last I ever touched it. … That’s the hardest thing to swallow out of all this — it was such a long time ago and one very bad judgement is going to taint a lot of things and people will have a lot of questions.
O’Grady acknowledged that his career would be tainted, but claimed that he achieved his biggest results while riding clean.
“You win Olympics, Paris-Roubaix and now all of that is going to be tainted by this action and I wish it could be changed but it can’t,” he said. “I was lucky enough to win a lot of things, they can test my samples from Paris-Roubaix and my Olympic medals for the next thousand years, they’re not going to find anything.
“There is nothing more to hide.”
Orica general manager Shayne Bannan offered support for his now-former rider.
“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,” Bannan said in a press release. “The team would also like to express its support in Stuart as a person and as an advocate for a clean sport. 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.
“We would like to underline that in all of our interactions with Stuart, he has always been extremely clear about the right path for the sport and we believe that certain mistakes in the past shouldn’t be allowed to tarnish his entire career and his integrity as a person.”
In 2012, Orica suspended team director Matt White over his role in the U.S. Postal Service doping conspiracy. The team reinstated White, who worked with the Garmin team of staunch anti-doping advocate Jonathan Vaughters for a number of years, earlier in 2013.
Full Durand statement:
You have to take responsibility for your own actions. I have always said that for many years whether it was to young riders, journalists or my employers.
Anyway, I don’t think anybody is fooled by the revelations that most of the peloton doped in 1998. The press, supporters, spectators and racers know the difference between current and traditional practices regarding EPO.
But of course, I can understand why the general public may be confused between what happened in 1998 and what is happening now.
The next generation must not pay the price for our crap. Today I am not thinking of myself, but of them. My career is in the past.
Now I’m thinking of the kid that could be a breakout star during the Tour who has to listen to people say: “You’re drugged up like all the others.”
I think of somebody like Thibaut Pinot, who finished 10th in the Tour at age 22, or a Romain Bardet who finished 15th at the same age.
I don’t want these cyclists to be discredited just because everyone from my generation was full of bullshit.
Our sport is much cleaner now, I want people to understand that.
At the time we the riders could hear the alarm bells sounding. We all agreed that our samples could be retained for a time when there was enhanced research regarding the detection of EPO.
In the late ’90s the peloton was a shooting gallery. Everybody was doping and nobody knew how to get out.
Why do you dope? When you want to live your passion but despite working like a madman you are streets behind the competition when clean you analyse the situation. You want to live your passion, you want to succeed in the Tour de France, so you take the plunge.
I hope that the naming of all of us who doped in 1998 brings through new doping reforms.
Otherwise these statements will have no effect other than to discredit our sport.