Riis admits to EPO use

Bjarne Riis admitted today to using EPO, a lot of EPO, over the majority of his career. I can’t say I’m too surprised at the news as the rumors have been following Riis for many years now. His critics will call him “Mr. 60 percent” in reference to a reported test that put his hematocrit level at 64% during his racing days. Given that and all the revelations coming out of the old Telecom/T-Mobile camps, no one can say they are shocked.

What does surprise me is the utter completeness of his confession. No “I did it once or twice.” or “I only doped in races I didn’t win.” or even “The team made me do it.” He admitted to systematic doping from 1993 to 1998 including doping his 1996 tour win. He took complete responsibility for his actions. Riis even admits that he is not worthy of a Tour de France victory.

What confuses me is what to do with this information. Should/can I separate Riis the rider from Riis the Director? CSC currently has one of the best anti-doping programs in the sport ironically rivalling that of T-Mobile. Can we say that the ’90s were a different time and we should judge a man by his actions today?

OK, what do we do about the 1996 Tour. Will Bjarne be the first Tour winner stripped of his title? This honor the French press has gleefully saved for Floyd Landis. If we do, does the jersey go to the second place finisher? Wait, remember, that person is Jan Ullrich. OK, let’s give it to the third place finisher. Wait, that’s Richard Virenque. Fourth? Laurent Dufaux. Forget that line of thought. If they don’t take it away, can you take Floyd’s? I don’t remember hearing about a statute of limitations on Tour victories.

Can this situation be likened to the parent who did a lot of drugs in college trying to raise their kids drug free? I know quite a few of them and I have to say most of them are great parents. Should they continue to carry the label fashioned during that period of their life?

For me, I think Bjarne the rider should be treated as such. Do what you need to do with the 1996 Tour. Take Riis’ name off and replace it with an asterisk if that is the proper thing to do. Treat Riis the Director by his actions as Director. If he has also ran afoul of the law then throw him out for good. If not, let him continue to manage one of the best teams in the world. I’m sure the board of CSC is currently wrestling with this question.

Riis’ full statement.

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5 Responses to Riis admits to EPO use

  1. Gary says:

    Cycling is nearly dead. Its riddled with drugs and cheater’s, and has no credence as a clean sport, in my opinion. The whole pro cycling sport should be cancelled for one year so that the cyclists, teams and sponcers will see that the sport cannot continue with drugs enhancing the sport. A one year suspension will also give the sport a chance to put the necessary changes in place, and develop the training needed for the cycling sport to return to the international community. The viability of the sport is more important than the loss of money from advertiser’s.

  2. Debby says:

    I think I saw in one of Rant’s posts that there was a cyclist in the early days of the Tour who was stripped of the title, so whomever is de-podiumed next would actually be the second person to lose their title.

    You pose an interesting question. I’m not sure what to think — it’s like a house of cards. Equally scary are the riders already banned who were tested at LNDD with all their false positives. So at this point, none of the standings look accurate to me. At what point do we throw out all the records and start over?

  3. Ed says:

    Debby, that sounds like the only viable thing to do…start over. There’s too much confusion in the current scandals and if you start going backwards, where do you stop? The perverbial Pandora’s box comes to mind.

    That being said, they should set up a redundant, multiple-lab testing system and go forward from here. Riders should unionize and negotiate the standards, timing, threshholds, etc. of testing. Sorting out the issues of the past will prove too onerous and unfair. The whole sport looked the other way over the past three decades, knowing that doping was happening, so the riders shouldn’t be the only ones to suffer. Seriously, I can’t think of anything else except what Gary suggested…the death penalty.

  4. pelotonjim says:

    Gary, I hear the frustration in your voice. While I think cycling has it’s problems, I can’t understand why no one cares as we watch Barry Bonds set the all time home-run record.

    Debby, I think you are right but if memory serves me, that person was stripped prior to the end of the race. Interesting idea about starting over. I’d like to see how that would work. I’m sure many ex-champions would howl esp those with multiple wins.

    All, never understimate the staying power of cycling. Look at the Giro crowds.

  5. Jackback... says:

    Drug addicts…All drug addicts…ha…

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