BRUSSELS – Belgian cyclist Roy Sentjens announced his retirement from the sport on Saturday after admitting taking the banned blood booster EPO.
The Milram team rider’s decision follows the provisional ban he received on Wednesday from cycling’s ruling body the UCI triggered by his positive test for EPO in an out-of-competition control in August.
Sentjens, who had originally denied any wrongdoing, held his hands up to acting illegally in a statement on his personal website.
“I didn’t ask for the second ‘B’ sample (to be tested) because I knew what it would contain,” he wrote.
“I want to apologize to everyone who believed in me.”
The 29-year-old cyclist went on to explain how he had come to obtain the drug.
“I wanted a contract, I have a new house, a son, a car…I made a mistake. In a flash I drove to Barcelona. I was set to visit all the chemists where I could find EPO. From the second (pharmacy) I had what I wanted.
“On August 16 I was tested. I knew already that I was finished.”
EPO (erythropoietin) can significantly enhance performance by boosting the oxygen-rich red blood cells in the blood.
Sentjens, who was born in Holland but took out Belgian citizenship in 2005, retires with four wins after nine years as a professional rider during which time he rode for Rabobank (2002-2006), Predictor (2007), Silence (2008), then Milram.
Sentjens’ frank admission follows Wednesday’s statement issued by the International Cycling Union.
It read: “The decision to provisionally suspend Mr Sentjens was made in response to a report from the WADA-accredited laboratory in Cologne indicating an Adverse Analytical Finding of Recombinant EPO in a urine sample collected from him at an out-of-competition test on 16 August 2010.”