relatedMay 25, 2007, 2:21 pm NY TimesTour de France Champion Admits Doping
By Mike Nizza
One of the safes hanging over Floyd Landis’s head as he fights doping allegations is the prospect of becoming the first Tour de France winner to be stripped of the title for doping. Today, another candidate volunteered. “My yellow jersey is in box at home, you can come and collect it
,” said Bjarne Riis of Denmark as he admitted today that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his championship run in 1996.
“I have taken doping, I have taken EPO,” the blood-boosting hormone, he said today in Copenhagen. Directing his fans to “find new heroes,” he proclaimed that “the time has come to put the cards on the table.” But the chief of cycling’s governing body said today that no one would be coming to take his jersey. The statute of limitations prevented that
Earlier in the week, three other cyclists admitted to doping, and on Thursday, two German members
of Mr. Riis’s 1996 team made the same admission.
One of them hinted at a much bigger secret. “My generation will probably be remembered as Generation EPO,” Erik Zabel said.
If EPO-proving tests didn’t start until 2000, why is Generation EPO coming clean for abuses in the 1990’s?
With a Spanish investigation implicating over 100 riders so far, and Mr. Landis’s doping trial significantly raising the profile of the issue, former riders and cycling officials are starting to decide to drag the skeletons out of the closet on their own terms.
Perhaps the most shocking example of skeleton-dragging came from a man that didn’t admit to doping at all. Last week, Greg LeMond, the American cyclist who won the Tour three times, announced at the Landis trial that he was molested at the age of 6
. He did so after trying to prove the power of openness in a private talk with Mr. Landis, whose manager then threatened to tell the world if Mr. LeMond testified.
“The law of silence is not totally broken, but the wall is crumbling,” Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France, said. To help that along further, he is calling for “lifetime bans for anyone who remained quiet but was later found to have doped,” The New York Times reported today
Besides the investigations and the threatened lifetime bans, many also seem motivated by a love for the sport and a desire to restore it to its former greatness. Mr. Riis, who is now the sporting director of a cycling team, did so today while refusing to let go of his achievements.
“I’m proud of my results even though they were not completely honest,” he said, according to Reuters
. “I’m coming out today to secure the right future for the sport.”