Former Tour de France winner Riis admits doping
Dane Bjarne Riis on Friday became the first rider to admit having used performance-enhancing drugs while winning the Tour de France.
Riis, who won the race in 1996, said he used drugs between 1993 and 1998.
“I have taken doping, I have taken EPO,” Riis told a news conference. “I purchased it myself and I took it myself. It was a part of everyday life as a rider.”
Previously, Riis had denied using the blood-boosting substance erythropoietin (EPO).
“I’m proud of my results even though they were not completely honest,” he said. “I’m coming out today to secure the right future for the sport.”
He went on to allege that former Telekom boss Walter Godefroot turned a blind eye to the drug use in the team.
Riis is now the sporting director of cycling team CSC, which last year parted ways with Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Basso when Basso was implicated in a Spanish police probe into blood doping by a group of doctors in Madrid.
Basso has always denied any links with the doctors.
Germans Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag, who rode for Telekom when team leaders Riis and German Jan Ullrich won the Tour de France in 1996 and 1997, respectively, admitted on Thursday to using EPO in the mid-1990s. No test for EPO existed until 2000. Ullrich retired from racing last month and has previously denied using illegal substances.
Last year’s Tour de France winner, Floyd Landis, is battling the United States Anti-Doping Agency in court in an attempt to keep his title after his urine tests proved positive for a synthetic form of the male hormone testosterone.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme was not reachable by telephone to discuss Riis’s admission.
UCI media officer Enrico Carpani told Reuters the sport’s governing body would issue a statement “later on Friday.”—Reuters