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David Millar: Armstrong deceit is heavy burden on young riders

Public perception of doping lags behind the cleanup in the sport, he says

A new generation of pro cyclists are being unfairly burdened by the legacy of Lance Armstrong, the reformed doping cyclist David Millar has said.

Speaking after the fifth stage of Paris-Nice, the cyclist, who served a two year ban for doping and now campaigns to clean up the sport, said that the sport was still some way off facing its past and moving on.

He told Eurosport: "He (Armstrong) was on their radar, he was one of the people who inspired them to get into the sport like many when they were younger.

"From the exterior it seems like it's very sudden but it's been a fairly gradual downfall in many ways, especially within the sport," he added, saying cycling lived in the 1990s and the 2000s with that "big elephant" (doping) in the room.

"Now it makes them more angry than anything else to have to deal with the mistakes of another generation, it's something they have to deal with which is not fair."

He said that although the public was only just waking up to the realities of doping during the Armstrong years, the sport was ahead of public perception.

He said: "We are hearing and seeing the truth of what really happened rather than what we thought or believed happened. In a way it's interesting but not very representative of where cycling is at the moment.

"Within Garmin-Sharp we've always had a very proactive anti-doping stance.

"We educate our young riders that they can talk about this, we never gag them."

It's unsurprising that, as poacher turned gamekeeper, Millar believes in second chances, and he doesn't think that all those involved need to face lifetime bans.

He added: "We don't have to remove the people from that era, we proved that with our team. In many ways, having people who want to make a difference like JV (Vaughters) and myself, Christian, David, it helps confront the past and be very pragmatic about it.

"There are also a lot of guys out there in the sport who are blinkered, who are in denial, they're also scared because they don't know what is going to happen to them if they do (talk)."


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dullard | 11 years ago

I like Millar. I like how he speaks about the doping issue and I think he's a good ambassador for the sport. But there's still a huge credibility gap, which is going to be very difficult to bridge. Many in the cycling world are banging on and on and on about how it's changed, it's much better now, there's no doping, we're all clean, but stories like this - - totally undermine that. Cleaner, maybe. But who now totally believes what they're seeing in races - Peter Sagan's antics showboating over the line while other riders are falling apart? Spanish riders riding out of their skins in the Vuelta? Sky come in on a 'no-dopers-here' ticket but hired, unknowingly one assumes, ex-dopers Michael Barry, Stephen de Jongh, Michael Rogers (according to Leipheimer's USADA affidavit), Bobby Julich and, in all likelihood, Sean Yates; but they knowingly took on Geert Leinders who was known to be a doping doctor. Cycling as a professional sport only exists if we, the watching public, believe it as only then will it attract sponsors - when the belief stops, sponsors don't want the association (viz Rabobank). We've been screwed for a long time, and it'll take more than Mark Cavendish getting pissed off with questions about doping or Lizzie Armitstead bemoaning her lot and saying they're pure as driven snow to get back the trust. Maybe it won't return.

Colin Peyresourde | 11 years ago

I think that cycling needs to get rid of the doctors and incorporate a level of testing and scrutiny that shows itself to be clean.

The big problem with the whole Armstrong saga, and the whole drug testing debate was that for so long he was able to say that he passed the tests he was put under the scrutiny of. It is patently clear that these were inadequate.

It is also clear that there is not enough direction from the UCI on finding a procedure that makes drug taking either impossible or very hard.

The fact that EPO is widely abused at the amateur level indicates that this problem is widespread.

BTW does anyway think that the time for the winner of Haute Route 2012 seems a little on the suspicious side? (check out time at 24:30)

issacforce | 11 years ago

Pot calling kettle!!!

seanboy | 11 years ago

i do like millar,but im a bit sick of him banging on about doping as if someone held a gun to his head and made him dope!!,i did read his book,and i thought it was interesting read,but the way i see it,millar doped because he wanted to be up with the big boys,truth is,he was always a good rider,but never good enough to win a big race,dope,or no dope!!!

Some Fella | 11 years ago

I wish Millar would stop beating himself over this.
I dont know if he does it out of guilt or as a way of reinforcing his own redemption but the fact is non dopers are now winning the big races more often than dopers and natural selection will see the current generation of dopers wither up.
For the first time doping just cant compete.
Dont deny the past but dont dwell on it either.

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