Steven de Jongh has written an open letter detailing more information about the times he used EPO as a rider.
Earlier today Team Sky announced that de Jongh would leave the team as it continues to strictly adhere to it’s ‘no association to doping’ policy that it launched under at the end of 2009.
Sports Director De Jongh is the latest member or staff to leave the team after Sean Yates (Head Sports Director) who announced his retirement yesterday and Bobby Julich (Race Coach) who last week admitted to doping when he was a rider.
Canadian Michael Barry had already announced his retirement when his name was released in USADA’s files while Dutch Doctor Geert Leinders left the team earlier in the year.
Steven de Jongh writes:
This is a hard thing to talk about, but I’d like to tell the truth about my experience of doping.
I’ve been shocked by the stories and rumours of organised doping programmes because I’ve simply never seen anything like that.
My experience was very different. My doping was done by me, and nobody ever forced me. Of course, I always knew it was wrong and was scared of the risks I was taking. And I will always regret what I did.
I took EPO on a few occasions from 1998 to 2000. It was very easy to get hold of and I knew it couldn’t be detected. I was a fairly young rider, the opportunity was there right in front of me and it was a pretty big challenge to stay away from the temptation. There was no pressure at all from my team, the Directors or the Doctors to take it. This was my choice.
I stopped because it was wrong and it wasn’t worth the risks – to my health, to the family I wanted, or of getting caught. The years after I’d stopped doping were sometimes hard. But cycling was slowly getting better and I managed to win races clean. I think the ‘whereabouts system’ and biological passport were great things for this sport.
I’ve always believed that everyone should take responsibility for their own decisions and it’s easy to see that I made entirely the wrong ones in the past. I made my biggest mistakes a long time ago but I need to admit this so I can move on. I want to stay in this sport but I know that it can’t be with Team Sky. It’s sad to be leaving but there’s no other option.
I’ve learned a lot at Team Sky and have great people around me. We came into the sport with big ambitions, and I’m proud I was part of building this team. It’s hard to let go but after three amazing years I don’t want a price to be paid later, by me or the team. I don’t want to let these people down.
The discussions going on in Team Sky have given me the chance to be honest about all this. Some might think I could have kept quiet, but this is a good chance for me to talk openly, the best moment to admit my mistakes. It’s time to talk.
I love this sport and it has been a huge part of my life. With the steps we’ve been taking in cycling there is a better chance than ever to compete in a clean sport. I’m certainly committed to that and everybody I’ve worked with can assure you that’s the case.
I truly regret what I did. And I believe it’s important that if you make a mistake you can still get a chance in life. It would be a huge regret if my mistakes of 12 years ago meant I could no longer work in cycling. People might accept and forgive if we can only tell them what happened.
This admission has been a big shock to my girlfriend, family and friends, and I am thankful for all the support they are giving me. After this difficult decision I need to re-establish their confidence in me and to prove to my girlfriend and kids that I can give them the future we want.
I hope very much to stay in this sport, and I’m sure I can play my part in its clean future.