Australian Paralympic Games individual pursuit champion Michael Gallagher has admitted to using EPO in a candid admission and apology on Facebook, posted on Monday. The Scottish-born 37-year-old said a mixture of depression, low motivation and expectation of results led him to take the drug.
Gallagher was provisionally suspended by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) after failing a test for the banned blood booster from a sample take in an out-of-competition test at a training camp in Italy in July.
“I have done the wrong thing. People deserve an explanation and I want to give it,” wrote Gallagher.
“Worsening mental health issues (depression) and other personal issues in life lead to inability to train and hurt myself like I used to. With the expectations of living up to past performances in a Paralympic year and the need to do so to pay my bills the pressure mounted.
“Rather than seek help l self-medicated to motivate, crossed the dark line, took short-cuts and cheated.”
Gallagher says that he started taking the drug prior to the Australian road national championships and the Paracycling Track World Champions in early 2016. He writes that he acted alone, and that no-one – including his wife and his coach – knew he was taking EPO.
“I sincerely apologise to my wife, family and close friends. People who are standing by me and would have no matter what. It seems so stupid now to have not let them in sooner before things got this far. I feel I have let them down. Also my coach Dan, who had no idea and I’m sure is devastated.”
The provisional suspension means that Gallagher will not ride in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, where he won a gold medal in the 2008 and 2012 Games individual pursuit, in addition to bronze in the 2008 road race and bronze in 2012 time trial.
“I want to thank everyone who has sent messages over the last few days to find out how I’m going and to offer their support. Honestly, I am not ok but will be working with good people to hopefully find the person I used to be,” Gallagher’s Facebook post concluded.