Australian Olympic Committee President condemns O'Grady after EPO admission

Thursday, 25 July 2013
By Duncan Mackay

Stuart OGrady head and shouldersJuly 25 - Cyclist Stuart O'Grady has been effectively sacked from the Australian Olympic Committee's (AOC) Athletes' Commission after he admitted doping during the Tour de France in 1998.

O'Grady, winner of four Olympic medals, including a gold in the madison at Athens in 2004, confessed today to using the banned blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) in preparation for the Tour which was overshadowed by the Festina scandal. 

The confession by the 39-year-old from Adelaide came after he was yesterday named, with other riders from that race, including the winner and runner-up, Italy's Marco Pantini and Germany's Jan Ullrich, in a French Senate inquiry into the use of drugs in the sport.

That development emerged a day after he surprised by announcing his retirement after riding a record-equalling 17th Tour, despite recently signing a new deal for another season with Australian-owned team Orica GreenEDGE.

Stuart OGrady celebrates winning Athens 2004Stuart O'Grady of Australia celebrates winning the Olympic gold medal in the madison at Athens in 2004 with partner Graeme Brown, ahead of Italy and Britain

O'Grady insisted his doping in 1998 was a one-off bad decision.

He wore the yellow jersey for three days during that year's race and also won the opening stage of the Tour de France in 2001, winning the yellow jersey, which he held for six days. 

"Leading into the [1998] Tour, I made a decision, I sourced it [EPO] myself, there was no one else involved, it didn't involve the team in any way," O'Grady told News Limited.

"I just had to drive over the border and buy it at any pharmacy.

"The hardest part of all this is I did it for two weeks before the Tour de France.

"I used extremely cautious amounts because I'd heard a lot of horror stories and did the absolute minimum of what I hoped would get me through.

"When the Festina Affair happened, I smashed it, got rid of it and that was the last I ever touched it."

Stuart OGrady Tour de France 2013Stuart O'Grady completed a record-equalling 17th Tour de France when he finished this year's race in Paris on Sunday

But O'Grady, who also won seven Commonwealth Games medals, including four gold, received no sympathy from the AOC, whose secretary general, Craig Phillips, has contacted him to tell him that he must resign from its Athletes' Commission.

"Members of our London Olympic team who elected Stuart to the Athletes' Commission are entitled to be angry knowing they had supported an athlete who had cheated" AOC President John Coates said.

"Athletes' Commission members are chosen for their qualities of integrity and leadership and by his admission Stuart does not deserve to be a member of that group.

"This was a shameful period for the sport of cycling which has been well documented, that is no excuse for the decision taken by Stuart O'Grady, and one can only hope that cycling and especially the Tour de France is cleaner as a result of [yesterday's] revelations and the Lance Armstrong saga."

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz


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