2012 Giro champion Ryder Hesjedal admits to doping

Garmin-Sharp rider's oblique admission may undermine his achievements - and credibility of his team's anti-doping stance

by Simon_MacMichael   October 31, 2013  

Ryder Hesjedal in Naples © Simon MacMichael

Ryder Hesjedal, the 2012 Giro d’Italia champion, has made a veiled admission to doping – but the Garmin-Sharp rider says it happened a decade ago.

With an eight-year statute of limitations applying under the World Anti-Doping Code, no action can be taken by sporting authorities against the Canadian rider.

The 32-year-old made his what is widely viewed as being an admission to doping - he couched it in oblique terms - on the same day it emerged that Danish ex-pro Michael Rasmussen claimed to have taught Hesjedal how to take EPO in 2003.

Following Rasmussen's allegations, contained in his autobiography, Hesjedal said in a statement: "I have loved and lived this sport but more than a decade ago I chose the wrong path.

"Even though those mistakes happened more than 10 years ago, and they were short-lived, it does not change the fact I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since.”

He added: "I believe that being truthful will help the sport continue to move forward, and over a year ago when I was contacted by anti-doping authorities I was open and honest about my past."

While Hesjedal, who rode for US Postal and Discovery Channel in 2004 and 2005, gave testimony to the United States Anti-Doping Agency as part of its investigation into Lance Armstrong, his statement was not included in its Reasoned Decision, published in October 2012.

Many will wonder why it is only now that he has been named by another rider that Hesjedal’s admission has become public.

His confession, however oblique, to having doped at the start of his career will cast doubt on the validity of his subsequent achievements.

While his Garmin-Sharp team believes in giving riders who have doped a second chance, epitomised by part-owner David Millar's presence in its line-up, some will view Hesjedal's statement as further undermining the credibility of its anti-doping stance.

Three of its riders – David Zabriskie, Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde – received six-month bans last year after admitting to doping in testimony provided to USADA.

Team manager Jonathan Vaughters, who is also CEO of its management company, Slipstream Sports, also confessed to having used performance enhancing drugs during his riding career.

There is no insinuation that any of those riders took drugs while with Garmin-Sharp.

But Hesjedal’s confession raises questions of how much the team knows about a rider’s background when it engages him, and whether it should disclose such information to the relevant authorities.

Garmin-Sharp gave Hesjedal its support yesterday evening, however.

In a statement, the US-based team said: “As we have previously stated, our expectation is that anyone in our organisation contacted by any anti-doping authority must be open and honest with that authority.

"Ryder is no exception and a year ago when he was contacted he cooperated fully and truthfully testified to Usada and CCES [Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport].

“For this reason and because of our desire for 100% truth and reconciliation in the sport of cycling, we support him."

Hesjedal spent two spells in the race leader’s maglia rosa in the 2012 Giro d’Italia, but lay second overall to Katusha’s Joaquin Rodriguez going into the final day’s individual time trial in Milan.

A much stronger rider against the clock than the Spaniard, Hesjedal overturned what had been a 31-second deficit at the start of the day to win the race by 16 seconds to become the first Canadian to win one of cycling’s three Grand Tours.

While there is no suggestion that he has taken drugs during the past decade, for many – including fellow Canadians his exploits introduced to the sport – that achievement will now be forever tarnished.

32 user comments

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Shock horror... what a surprise, its a sad fact that "most" riders doped during that period, why are we so surprised by this.

Let just forget about the past and move on, its what's happening today onwards that count.

posted by mikeprytherch [219 posts]
31st October 2013 - 8:44

15 Likes

Some Fella wrote:
Only fesses up when he is just about to get outed not because he feels its the right thing to do.
I have some respect for dopers who come clean on their own admission and then speak out against it. I have much less respect for ones who lie until they are caught and cry like a baby when they do.

Completely agree, how credible is his apology when he's only making it because he's been outed?

Asolare

posted by Goldfever4 [169 posts]
31st October 2013 - 8:53

9 Likes

What a farce.

...and the problem with "move on" is that time has moved on too. They doped in the past because they were confident that they would not get caught. They can dope for the same reasons now. New drugs and doping methods make avoidance of positive test results entirely plausible... once a doper, always a doper.

posted by mythbuster [31 posts]
31st October 2013 - 9:04

17 Likes

Quote from the BBC science pages, 'New research suggests that athletes who use steroids for a short period can benefit for their entire careers.'
Support indeed for those who believe in lifetime bans for doping.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [985 posts]
31st October 2013 - 9:10

14 Likes

Has he actually lied, what did he say to USADA?

If it 10 years ago, forget it, move on, worry about today and tomorrow. It is clear that the drug problem was huge a decade ago.

Investigate, understand what went wrong and learn.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1283 posts]
31st October 2013 - 9:15

8 Likes

Some Fella wrote:
Only fesses up when he is just about to get outed not because he feels its the right thing to do.

Are you really surprised? Most people in his position 10 years ago would have done the same (as we are now finding out).

I don't like this news either but it's too easy to throw stones on a forum, hiding behind a pseudonym. Before you criticise someone you should walk a mile in their shoes. Or at least consider what it would be like to wear them.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2029 posts]
31st October 2013 - 9:27

9 Likes

more proof that Truth and Reconciliation needs to happen very soon, or it will again drag the sport back down. Let's hope Cookson gets this going. I am shocked that the Garmin team failed to make Ryder fess up publicly when he made his statement to USADA, but presumably doing this just after he'd won the Giro would have taken away all the glitz.

posted by Metjas [303 posts]
31st October 2013 - 9:28

10 Likes

antonio wrote:
Quote from the BBC science pages, 'New research suggests that athletes who use steroids for a short period can benefit for their entire careers.'
Support indeed for those who believe in lifetime bans for doping.

bit selective in your quoting here - research was done in mice, no indication yet that this would translate into similar effects in humans.

posted by Metjas [303 posts]
31st October 2013 - 9:30

8 Likes

Simon E wrote:
Before you criticise someone you should walk a mile in their shoes. Or at least consider what it would be like to wear them.

why exactly would one not be allowed to criticise? Because doping was prevalent at the time? Remember that not everyone in the peloton doped. I can certainly understand that some will have found it hard to say no, livelihood etc, but that does not take away personal responsibility.

posted by Metjas [303 posts]
31st October 2013 - 9:42

12 Likes

Metjas wrote:
more proof that Truth and Reconciliation needs to happen very soon

Can we please stop calling it 'Truth and Reconciliation'? It's really, really inappropriate to compare this to state violence, war crime and human rights abuses.

posted by hoski [69 posts]
31st October 2013 - 9:48

8 Likes

The statement in the story:
"There is no insinuation that any of those riders took drugs while with Garmin-Sharp."

Undermines the stories sub-heading:
"Garmin-Sharp rider's oblique admission may undermine his achievements - and credibility of his team's anti-doping stance"

Poor journalism.

posted by kitkat [220 posts]
31st October 2013 - 9:51

17 Likes

kitkat wrote:
The statement in the story:
"There is no insinuation that any of those riders took drugs while with Garmin-Sharp."

Undermines the stories sub-heading:
"Garmin-Sharp rider's oblique admission may undermine his achievements - and credibility of his team's anti-doping stance"

Poor journalism.

And selective quoting is poor commenting Wink

As the article went on to say: "But Hesjedal’s confession raises questions of how much the team knows about a rider’s background when it engages him, and whether it should disclose such information to the relevant authorities."

And that, for many people, will undermine Garmin's credibility; from their statement it seems clear they've known about this for a long time.

You can certainly argue they could have managed the situation better by going public themselves rather than waiting until someone else publishes a book - and if Rasmussen hadn't, would we ever have known about this?

That applies more so than ever in the post-USADA world.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8391 posts]
31st October 2013 - 10:12

12 Likes

This should feel like a blow for clean cycling but to be honest I am numbed to such an extent that none of them surprise me anymore.

All we need now is a Ricco comeback... oh Sad

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1287 posts]
31st October 2013 - 10:37

6 Likes

kitkat wrote:
The statement in the story:
"There is no insinuation that any of those riders took drugs while with Garmin-Sharp."

Undermines the stories sub-heading:
"Garmin-Sharp rider's oblique admission may undermine his achievements - and credibility of his team's anti-doping stance"

Poor journalism.

Garmin's anti-doping credibility is based on transparency, not the fact that their riders have never doped (cf David Millar). This situation seems a long way from being handled transparently. hence it undermines their credibility.

Poor understanding on your part, I'd say.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7468 posts]
31st October 2013 - 10:37

8 Likes

Slightly off-topic, but on the day this news broke, Paul Kimmage tweeted a quote from Bradley Wiggins saying "We need more guys like Geert Leinders". That was the best he could do.

Leaving aside the fact that this was making an out-of-context insinuation - for me this is proof that Kimmage's crusade only extends to those he arbitrarily decides to start a witch-hunt against.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3419 posts]
31st October 2013 - 10:52

7 Likes

mrmo wrote:
Has he actually lied, what did he say to USADA?

If it 10 years ago, forget it, move on, worry about today and tomorrow. It is clear that the drug problem was huge a decade ago.

Investigate, understand what went wrong and learn.

The problem is that we only have hearsay on the improvements in drug detection. So 'moving on' is effectively saying that you accept the word of cyclists that 'things are different' and that suddenly, after over 50 or more years of different types of doping that cycling has washed itself of its past.
It is impossible to tell if a cyclist has doped during the season, it may not be as bad as the 90s, but neither has it gone away.
I understand the need that people have to try and draw a line under things, but the reality is very different. But you might take heart from the fact that if it is being done in cycling it is being done everywhere.
Part of the problem is the willingness to let the whole thing slide. If you do, nothing changes, but also can anything be done now that the horse has bolted. Only if each professional body spends £60,000 on a testing regime for each athlete according to WADA. The problem is that the athletes are endangering themselves and others in their abuse. Just look at the number of incidents of footballers dropping dead, or contracting 'rare' ailments (Petrov and Abidal). There can be no proof of the necessary link between their ailments and doping, but the incidences are much higher than they ever were. Once players are out if the lime light then few care about their health.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1186 posts]
31st October 2013 - 11:04

6 Likes

Colin Peyresourde wrote:
The problem is that we only have hearsay on the improvements in drug detection. So 'moving on' is effectively saying that you accept the word of cyclists that 'things are different' and that suddenly, after over 50 or more years of different types of doping that cycling has washed itself of its past.

Which is why the learn is so important. There can be no win against drugs in sport if you simply deny a problem exists or claim your systems are enough.

How many teams take suppliments at present? I suspect most, at what point does a suppliment become a banned drug. I believe that Sky are calling for the banning of a certain painkiller. Why are so many cyclists asthmatic, or at least have medication prescribed for such a complaint.

The issues, is it the calendar? is it expectation? is it the money? the number of teams folding?

I don't think anything is achieved by banning riders for offences ten years ago, in my opinion you would be better understanding what drove them, then look at now. What can be done to to prevent some of the problems reoccuring.

Then look at Operacion Puerto, and you realise that the problem isn't always the sport, there are people with vested interests that don't want anyone to know the truth.

As for sport being clean, i looked at Movistar at the tour and wondered.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1283 posts]
31st October 2013 - 11:29

6 Likes

Stories like this will keep coming, as the books get released and ex-riders (in this case Rasmussen) reveal their lives for all to read.

Are any of us really surprised that riders were doping in the past? Take a year, take a race, look at the riders, teams, sports directors et al involved and I think you'll be hard pushed to find anyone clean in the history of the sport.

SteveAustin's picture

posted by SteveAustin [34 posts]
31st October 2013 - 11:29

6 Likes

What a bellend.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
31st October 2013 - 12:27

6 Likes

Does this meam he's going to sign to Astana now?

posted by iamelectron [112 posts]
31st October 2013 - 12:27

8 Likes

Very cynical.

Cycling is still no cleaner than it used to be, possibly even worse.

posted by northstar [1109 posts]
31st October 2013 - 12:35

7 Likes

Metjas wrote:
Simon E wrote:
Before you criticise someone you should walk a mile in their shoes. Or at least consider what it would be like to wear them.

why exactly would one not be allowed to criticise? Because doping was prevalent at the time? Remember that not everyone in the peloton doped. I can certainly understand that some will have found it hard to say no, livelihood etc, but that does not take away personal responsibility.

I didn't say you weren't allowed to. Did you not actually understand me or is it wilful misreading? Merely hurling insults is pointless and says more about the commenter than the subject.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2029 posts]
31st October 2013 - 12:49

6 Likes

mrmo wrote:
Colin Peyresourde wrote:
The problem is that we only have hearsay on the improvements in drug detection. So 'moving on' is effectively saying that you accept the word of cyclists that 'things are different' and that suddenly, after over 50 or more years of different types of doping that cycling has washed itself of its past.

Which is why the learn is so important. There can be no win against drugs in sport if you simply deny a problem exists or claim your systems are enough.

How many teams take suppliments at present? I suspect most, at what point does a suppliment become a banned drug. I believe that Sky are calling for the banning of a certain painkiller. Why are so many cyclists asthmatic, or at least have medication prescribed for such a complaint.

The issues, is it the calendar? is it expectation? is it the money? the number of teams folding?

I don't think anything is achieved by banning riders for offences ten years ago, in my opinion you would be better understanding what drove them, then look at now. What can be done to to prevent some of the problems reoccuring.

Then look at Operacion Puerto, and you realise that the problem isn't always the sport, there are people with vested interests that don't want anyone to know the truth.

As for sport being clean, i looked at Movistar at the tour and wondered.

Fair enough. I guess I thought you were suggesting things had 'moved on' and I would dispute that.

The problem with sport is that the prizes for winning, and the fervor people have for sport/champions (lets not forget the celebrity of gladiators in Rome) drives people to cheat. The fact that cheats prosper then drives each and every one of his competitors to the same point - if I don't do drugs then I am only going to get beaten. The system supports this because it values 'extraordinary' performances.

Even reading Willy Voets' 'Breaking the Chain' you understand that there is a reluctance to constantly use and abuse the drugs even when they could because they knew it was not right (Armstrong just took away the honour amongst thieves and was particularly systematic and unartful about his approach - though I accept he was not merciless. By not competing in most pre-TDF races and post TDF he didn't exclude competition, except for the Tour). Which is understandable, in respect to the general approach, but eventually leads to Armstrong-esque dominance.

It's like cheat modes on video games. Once you know they are there it is hard to resist their use.

The situation was once perceived that 'anti-doping' drug testing would capture the cheats, but the wool has now been partially removed from the eyes of the general public. Dope testing has in fact legitimised doped performances, like Armstrong's in the belief that the appropriate authority could and would take action. Anyway I hope a more satisfactory situation can come about where the likes of Chris Horner are more easily found out.

The actuality of sport is really that you should start of with a presumed guilty point of view - Like Judge Judy says "if it doesn't make sense, it's just not true"....

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1186 posts]
31st October 2013 - 13:33

5 Likes

Ok. Firstly the question of when did Vaughters know about Ryder's doping past? The answer - from Vaughters himself on Twitter this morning: before 2008 (i.e. the start of the team). So he's known for more than 6 years.

Secondly the quote from Slipstream: 'Ryder is no exception and a year ago when he was contacted he cooperated fully and truthfully testified to Usada and CCES [Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport].'

According to USADA's press release last night: '"As has been publicly reported, we can confirm that USADA, along with the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport (CCES), interviewed cyclist, Ryder Hesjedal, earlier this year as part of our ongoing investigation into the sport of cycling.'

http://www.usada.org/media/statement-hesjedal103013

And the CCEI says the same thing: Hesjedal confessed this year.

http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/15743/Canadian-Centre-for-Ethics-in-Sp...

So apart from everything else, here we have Garmin and JV trying to spin away. Or maybe they just have a problem with dates - tricky things, dates.

And this is one of the things that's just turning me. Enough of the BS.

posted by Sim1 [57 posts]
31st October 2013 - 13:51

6 Likes

Some extra punishment should be devised for riders who only admit to doping once they are going to be caught

posted by jarredscycling [457 posts]
31st October 2013 - 14:10

5 Likes

mikeprytherch wrote:
Let just forget about the past and move on, its what's happening today onwards that count.

Sorry but this is an incredibly daft position to take that would be nothing but hugely damaging in the long term.

The past HAS TO be reconciled before anyone can move on from it.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [591 posts]
31st October 2013 - 15:29

6 Likes

Simon E wrote:
Metjas wrote:
Simon E wrote:
Before you criticise someone you should walk a mile in their shoes. Or at least consider what it would be like to wear them.

why exactly would one not be allowed to criticise? Because doping was prevalent at the time? Remember that not everyone in the peloton doped. I can certainly understand that some will have found it hard to say no, livelihood etc, but that does not take away personal responsibility.

I didn't say you weren't allowed to. Did you not actually understand me or is it wilful misreading? Merely hurling insults is pointless and says more about the commenter than the subject.

Some Fella wrote:
Only fesses up when he is just about to get outed not because he feels its the right thing to do.
I have some respect for dopers who come clean on their own admission and then speak out against it. I have much less respect for ones who lie until they are caught and cry like a baby when they do.

where exactly in the original comment by Some Fella is abuse being hurled? I certainly would not be supporting such an approach, but it's just not there.

posted by Metjas [303 posts]
31st October 2013 - 16:39

6 Likes

Whenever i hear another sob story of a doper forced to admit to their cheating and blaming the culture at the time, I like to remember Nicole Cooke's polemic delivered at the time of her retirement.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
1st November 2013 - 8:11

5 Likes

Vaughters says they were restricted from going public by agreements with ADAs due to ongoing investigations.

posted by Paul J [667 posts]
1st November 2013 - 10:08

3 Likes

Hey, I got a speeding ticket in 1993, but I'm still allowed to drive a car. Shock, horror! Find a rider who didn't dope 10-15 years ago. There are some but not many I bet.

Andy

posted by jazzdude [60 posts]
1st November 2013 - 18:09

0 Likes