Recently retired French rider Jean-Christophe Péraud has claimed that in his career he raced and beat riders who were cheating.
Reflecting on his career after hanging up his wheels following this year’s Vuelta a España, where he finished 13th, the former Ag2r La Mondiale rider, who at the age of 37 rode to a surprising second-place at the 2014 Tour de France, said that he was saddened to admit that he suspected many of his road competitors had cheated.
“Unfortunately, yes, and this is my first sorrow,” he told the Le Parisian newspaper, responding to a question abut if he had questioned some performances.
“Two or three times a year, some things shocked me,” he said.
“There, one thinks, that we had already lost. Early in my career, it gave me a lot to reflect on, but that was not the case in the end. I have been on the bike for 20 years and at a very good level; I almost got to the top. I beat guys who cheated, so it was a little less affected by it.”
Péraud himself has previously been accused of doping. In 1997, he recorded a haematocrit level of over 50 per cent but avoided a suspension because the test was done for research purposes during the early stages of testing for EPO. Now, haematocrit levels above 50 percent result in a ban.
“At the time, we had begun to search for EPO,” he recalled. There was a blood test for the whole peloton. I was over 50 per cent, and I was wrongly accused.
“It was the beginnings of the detection of EPO, and it gave rise to uncertainties. I’m all for the fight against doping, but I prefer to see cheaters race than seeing the innocent accused.”
Péraud rode mountain bike for most of his cycling career and took silver in the cross-country event at the 2008 Olympics when he was still a part-time engineer for a thermo hydraulic station.
He only switched professionally to the road in 2010 following his victory in the 2009 French Time Trial Championships.
Despite his success in mountain biking he wasn’t satisfied that mountain bikers could compete at a high level in road cycling without cheating, so made the switch to find out.
“I wanted to know if, sportingly, we could succeed in this [road] discipline without cheating,” Péraud said. “I wanted to know at what level I found myself in relation to the peloton, to see how the mountain bike rider compared on the road.
“Today, the mountain bike has gained acclaim but when I started, it was a road sub-discipline and we mountain bikers, we lived it a little badly. That was my quest, and I have completed it.”