For over 30 years I have dedicated my life to cycling. I have always been determined to compete at the highest level, in one of the most physically demanding sports. With hard work and success have come great blessings from the sport I love.
Teammates have become dear friends and I have worked hard to earn the respect of my competitors. I have been associated with managers and team officials whose professionalism is unparalleled. Wonderful fans have supported my family and me since I began this great journey. For all of this and more, I am truly grateful and proud.
Because of my love for the sport, the contributions I feel I have made to it, and the amount the sport of cycling has given to me over the years, it is extremely difficult today to acknowledge that during a part of my career I used banned substances. Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them. I deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologize to my family, teammates and fans.
Quietly, and in the way I know best, I have been trying to rectify that decision. I have competed clean and have not used any performance enhancing drugs or processes for the past six years. Since 2006, I have been working hard within the sport of cycling to rid it of banned substances. During this time, I continued to successfully compete at the highest level of cycling while mentoring young professional riders on the right choices to make to ensure that the culture of cycling had changed.
About two years ago, I was approached by US Federal investigators, and more recently by USADA, and asked to tell of my personal experience in these matters. I would have been much more comfortable talking only about myself, but understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything I knew. So that is what I did.
Cycling has made remarkable gains over the past several years and can serve as a good example for other sports. Thankfully, the use of performance enhancing drugs is no longer embedded in the culture of our sport, and younger riders are not faced with the same choice we had.
I am proud to be part of the cycling community, and believe we continue to make positive changes to our sport. I applaud the extraordinary achievements of my fellow riders on and off the bike. Cycling is an incredible sport that not only requires unbelievable physical ability to ride hundreds of miles a day for many days on end; it also requires a certain type of dedication, ambition and character. I have been fortunate to compete with teammates whose commitment and talent will be hard to match. As a rider I have dedicated a large part of my career to helping those teammates succeed. As I begin the next chapter in my cycling life, I look forward to playing a significant part in developing, encouraging and helping young riders to compete and win with the best in the world.
It's sad and liberating all in the same breathe.
I'm glad George came forward. Just like Frankie Andreu did. Just like Jonathan Vaughters did. Just like I'm glad that Tyler Hamilton did. Just like I'm glad Floyd Landis did. And I'm sure by the time the dust settles from this whole malay there will be at least a few more that come forward as well (Levi, Dave Z, etc...). That's the liberating part.
I'm very hopeful that through all these guys breaking omerata (The code of silence in pro cycling.) that some real change will come. Hopefully for the better.
I'm also hopeful that something will be done with the UCI and the corruption that has plagued that place for years. But I get the sad feeling that that would be a hail-Mary pass that would take a miracle to happen. Like the lab tech that was involved in the meeting with Lance, Hien and Johan after Lance's alleged positive doping test at the Tour de Swiss for example. If that person came forward we might have enough fire power to root the dead wood out of the UCI. One can dream...
What I'm sad about is that we even needed to go through this in the first place. That the peer pressure for these racers was so fierce that they felt like they had no choice if they wanted to stay with in the sport. That the things that they had worked so hard for up to that point had no meaning unless they took the needle to continue to pursuit of their dreams.
Also find it sad that these men didn't come out with this information until after their cycling (At least on the bike.) careers were over. I mean I get it. You don't want to rock the boat while you're in it. But it makes this whole process drag out that much longer. I don't know. I'm sure that if I were in their situation I probably would have done the same thing. Unless I had a really good back-up plan.
It's going to be big day.
The USADA is suppose to have some more information out later today. I'll rant about it as it comes out...
Rubber side down,