German ex-professional cyclist Andreas Klier, who moved into a management role with his Garmin-Sharp team after announcing his retirement in May, has been banned from involvement with cycling for six months by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after admitting doping during his racing career.
The 37-year-old from Munich confessed to using substances including EPO, human growth hormone and cortisone, as well as undergoing prohibited blood transfusions, from 1999 to 2006.
During that period he rode for TVM-Farm Frites until 2001, before joining Team Telekom, where the Classics specialist took the biggest win of his career in the 2003 edition of Gent-Wevelgem.
USADA, which says it received the co-operation of German anti-doping authorities in its investigation, has confirmed that Klier’s ban began on 12 August, and says that he has been stripped of results gained since 21 July 2005.
The agency's CEO, Travis Tygart, who achieved international prominence through its investigation of the US Postal team and Lance Armstrong, said: “We are thankful for the assistance in this case provided by our international partners at the German National Anti-Doping Agency and appreciate Mr. Klier’s willingness to provide full and truthful testimony about the culture of drug use in cycling.
“We know that there are still many others in the sport, like Mr. Klier, who have important information to share about how the dangerous use of performance-enhancing drugs and methods took over the sport and was allowed to flourish.
"Our investigation into the sport of cycling is ongoing, and we will continue to fight for the rights of all athletes who want to have the full truth revealed so that the sport can finally move forward toward a truly clean future.”
USADA adds that Klier, who began working as a sports director at Garmin-Sharp in May after confirming he had retired from racing, had received the six-month suspension "in accordance with the [World Anti-Doping] Code, for being forthcoming and providing full and true substantial assistance."
In a statement released via Garmin-Sharp, Klier said: "I have been involved in professional cycling for 17 years, and for those 17 years cycling has been my life. Some of my best memories and moments happened on my bike, and some of my worst too.
"Along the road to the top of the sport, many years ago, I chose the wrong path, and I have been very sorry for it ever since. To everyone both in and out of cycling including my family, the fans, the sponsors, the sport I love, my peers, – especially those who made the right choices - I am deeply sorry.
"I stopped what I was doing and started competing clean well before I ever joined Slipstream, but I am proud today to be a part of an organization that makes racing clean its only priority. In my heart and my mind I know that telling the truth about my past to the proper authorities is the right thing to do to continue to help the sport I love move forward. I accept responsibility for the mistakes I made in my past and the punishment that comes along with them.
"I have seen both worlds of the sport and I believe that today it is in the best place its ever been. The young riders racing now have never faced the same choices I did, and I will do everything I can for the rest of my life to help continue to help build the sport that I love."
Slipstream Sports, the company that holds Garmin-Sharp's UCI WorldTour licence, added: "Slipstream Sports was created because we wanted to build a team where cyclists could compete 100% clean.
"We understood cycling’s history and we wanted to create a different environment for riders where they did not have to make the difficult choices of the past.
"We support Andreas for telling the truth about his past, a past that pre-dates Slipstream Sports by years, and accepting the consequences that come along with it.
"Nothing can erase what happened in cycling’s history, but we can learn from it. We can look at the crop of young athletes coming up not just on our team but on other teams and have confidence that the future of the sport is here. Cycling has never been cleaner and we will work, every day, to help it continue to progress."
USADA's investigation of Armstrong and the USPS team included testimony from several people involved with Garmin-Sharp, including team manager Jonathan Vaughters, who confessed to having used performance enhancing substances while a pro rider.
Three Garmin-Sharp team members - Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie - received six-month bans after admitting their own doping and also providing evidence against Armstrong and others.
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.