Aussie Stuart O’Grady Admits To Using EPO

SYDNEY, July 25, 2013 (AFP) – Newly-retired Australian cycling great Stuart
O’Grady has admitted to using the banned blood-booster EPO before the 1998
Tour de France, reports said Thursday.

The confession comes just three days after the 39-year-old Olympic gold
medalist and 17-time Tour rider announced his retirement from the sport.

“Leading into the Tour I made a decision, I sourced it (EPO) myself, there
was no one else involved, it didn’t involve the team in any way,’ O’Grady told
News Limited newspapers.

“I just had to drive over the border and buy it at any pharmacy.

“The hardest part of all this is I did it for two weeks before the Tour de
France. I used extremely cautious amounts because I’d heard a lot of horror
stories and did the absolute minimum of what I hoped would get me through.”

O’Grady, a former track cyclist who won medals at three Olympics, including
gold in the Madison at the 2004 Athens Games, took the first of his four
career Tour stage wins that year in a race that was overshadowed by the
Festina doping scandal.

Festina was kicked off the race after a medical team member was arrested at
the French border and customs officers seized banned substances, including EPO.

News Limited newspapers said O’Grady 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.

“When the Festina affair happened, I smashed it, got rid of it and that was
the last I ever touched it,” O’Grady said.

“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.

“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.”

O’Grady’s most recent team, Orica GreenEDGE, released a statement
supporting his decision, saying that one mistake should not tarnish an
exceptional career.

“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,” general manager Shayne Bannan said.