“I forgot about the most important things for a rider, training, nutrition and sleep. I replaced all that with doping.” That’s the frank appraisal of 21-year-old French cyclist Fabien Taillefer, a former winner of the Junior Paris-Roubaix, of how he came to be involved in doping after turning professional.
The cyclist, third in the Under-23 version of the cobbled classic behind Taylor Phinney last year, was this week placed under investigation by police in France as part of a doping ring in cycling in Normandy and Brittany that has been dubbed the "Médi 14,"
Taillefer, who rode last season for the amateur team Véranda Rideau, confirmed to the French cycling website Direct Velo that although he did not know the exact nature of the accusations against him, he together with his father and other suspects stood accused of the sale, use and possession of doping products based on events dating back to 2007.
The youngster turned pro with VC Roubaix in 2009 and says it was then that he became involved in doping. Twice operated on for a cyst in his thigh, Taillefer says that “with the aid of certain people, I ended up doping. The result – I wasn’t better, I was less good. I didn’t train. It was easy. Besides, I didn’t win a race that year.”
The cyclist claims that his doping coincided with a difficult period of his life, adding that he had doped while winning two stages of the Tour de la Manche last year but that he had subsequently stopped using performance enhancing drugs and is now riding clean.
Although he concluded by saying that he still had hopes of following a career as a pro cyclist, his admission of past misdemeanors means that a ban is inevitable, and there is also the possibility of further action as a result of the ongoing investigation in France.
The effect of that is that in all probability he will be remembered as just another young cyclist who succumbed to the temptation to dope at the behest of his perceived elders and betters, leaving his dreams in tatters.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.