After criticism was angled against British Cycling and David Millar, the former Garmin rider insists he’s in a good position to educate young cyclists about the perils of doping having ‘been there and done it’.
Millar, who retired from professional cycling in 2014, was banned in 2004 after admitting to taking EPO, before returning to the peloton as an anti-doping advocate.
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British Cycling announced this week that Millar would take on an informal role with the BC Academy, which is based in Italy, and the rider says he can give genuine answers to the questions the riders may have about doping.
“I have been there and done it all recently, good and bad,” he told the Guardian. “It will make that world seem real to them. I’m still close to what they are dreaming of. They can ask me things and they will know they will get real-life experiences as an answer. It’s not just a matter of telling them what not to do, but why.
“I can tell them about the risks, how [doping] can damage you. It’s about qualifying them for the world they are going into. Cycling has cleaned up its act, it’s possible to get to the top clean, but you can see from what’s happening in athletics that there is a way to go.
“I’m in a strong position to educate those guys on what happens. If one of them has doubts about someone he is riding against, sees something he doesn’t understand, he can talk to me. He will know I will do something about it and that I will give him an idea of how to cope with it.”
Millar cited the recent doping admission by 18-year-old Gabriel Evans as an example of the decisions some young athletes may take in order to move up the ladder in sport.
British Cycling’s performance director, Shane Sutton, acknowledged that Millar’s appointment was controversial, but insisted that there are few better people to talk about the dangers of doping than the Scot.
“Having someone of David’s calibre on board to support us in this education process is invaluable; he is readily available to share his experiences as a professional cyclist to the young riders who aspire to succeed in their careers,” he said.