Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
British cycling today announced that former professional road racing cyclist, David Millar, is working with the Great Britain Cycling Team as a mentor. Millar, who has served a two-year ban for doping, will support, educate and hand down his experience to young British Cycling Academy riders on the dangers of doping. The role is currently on a voluntary basis, however British Cycling’s Technical Director, Shane Sutton has indicated that Millar will be joining British Cycling in a ‘more official capacity’ towards the end of this month.
— David Millar (@millarmind) February 11, 2016
Millar served a two-year ban in 2004 after admitting to using the performance enhancing drug, Erythropoietin (EPO). As part of an investigation into his former team, Cofidis, Millar’s home in Biarritz was raided by French drug police. The police found empty phials of Eprexm, a brand of EPO. Reportedly, following 47 hours of detention, Millar admitted to using the banned substance. The Guardian reported that EPO was introduced to him by an ‘older professional in the team’ and a Cofidis ‘directeur’. Millar’s lawyer released a statement at the time that reportedly read: “Mr Millar has indicated that he used EPO during ‘courses of treatment’ taken outside France in 2001 and 2003…There were a total of three courses of one week. He has not implicated any other individuals.”
Miller, who retired in 2014, described his epiphany moment to Cycling Weekly in 2010. “I thought, you’re a f**king idiot. You’re the bike fan who gets to ride the Tour de France” he recollected thinking, whilst watching the Tour de France while banned from the sport. Following his ban, Millar has enjoyed a celebrated career and has experienced much success, including stages at the Vuelta a España, the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France and a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Millar has been an active campaigner for Anti-Doping. He has said “I regret doping and always will. But there has been a silver lining.” He has called for the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) to follow up on the Cycling Independent Reform Commission’s (CIRC) report with a full audit of the peloton to better understand where current riders stand on doping. “I hope there’s a follow-up report,” he told Cycling Weekly. “I told [UCI President] Brian Cookson they need to do an audit of today’s peloton, as I think that was what was really lacking from the CIRC report; a real, accurate analysis of where the modern peloton is.” He went on to say, “I still think there’s still a bit of an unknown. [The UCI] has no real true idea of what the modern generation is like, what the modern peloton is, in terms of doping and clean performance.”
Millar, however, did not take part in the CIRC’s investigations:
For the record, CIRC and I tried numerous times to find a date that worked. We didn't ever find one. We share the blame on that.
— David Millar (@millarmind) March 9, 2015
I spent 10yrs speaking to police, lawyers, judges, anti-doping authorities, national governing bodies, media, sponsors, race organisers etc.
— David Millar (@millarmind) March 9, 2015
“Having someone of David’s calibre on board to support us in this education process is invaluable; he is readily available to share his well-rounded experiences as a professional cyclist to the young riders who aspire to succeed in their careers”, said Shane Sutton on Millar’s addition to Great Britain Cycling. “In addition to his mentor work, David brings with him a massive amount of training and tactical knowledge which will support the work of the coaches, and he’s become a well-respected figure in cycling which will help us to open doors when it comes to fielding young talent into professional road teams. David will work with the squad on a voluntary basis until the end of the month with a view to subsequently joining the team in a more official capacity.”
The importance of Anti-Doping education remains an important topic in cycling. In December, the cycling community reacted in dismay after Gabriel Evans, an 18 year old British junior national time-trial champion, admitted to taking EPO. He claimed on an online forum that ‘it can be easy to work yourself into a mentality whereby doping can be normalised and justified’.
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