By Nigel Wynn
Canadian 2012 Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal issued a statement on Wednesday evening confirming that he doped in 2003, after Michael Rasmussen revealed in his forthcoming book, Yellow Fever, that he showed Hesjedal how to take banned blood booster EPO.
The statement, issued by Slipstream Sports, owner of his current team Garmin-Sharp, also contained a message of support from the squad, revealing that Hesjedal had co-operated with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in the last year with its investigation into widespread doping in the pro peloton.
"Cycling is my life and has been ever since I can remember. I have loved and lived this sport but more than a decade ago, I chose the wrong path," said Hesjedal. "And even though those mistakes happened more than 10 years ago, and they were short-lived, it does not change the fact that I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since."
To everyone in my life, inside and outside the sport - to those that have supported me and my dreams - including my friends, my family, the media, fans, my peers, sponsors - to riders who didn't make the same choices as me all those years ago, I sincerely apologise for my part in the dark past of the sport. I will always be sorry."
"Although I stopped what I was doing many years before I joined Slipstream Sports, I was and am deeply grateful to be a part of an organization that makes racing clean its first priority and that supports athletes for telling the truth. I believe that being truthful will help the sport continue to move forward, and over a year ago when I was contacted by anti-doping authorities, I was open and honest about my past.
"I have seen the best and the worst of the sport and I believe that it is now in the best place it's ever been. I look at young riders on our team and throughout the peloton, and I know the future of the sport has arrived. I'm glad that they didn't have to make the same choices I did, and I will do everything I can to continue to help the sport that I love."
Slipstream Sports issued the following statement: "As we have said from the beginning, Slipstream Sports was created because we wanted to build a team where cyclists could compete 100% clean. And, as we have previously stated, our expectation is that anyone in our organization contacted by any anti-doping authority must be open and honest with that authority. Ryder is no exception and a year ago when he was contacted he cooperated fully and truthfully testified to USADA and CCES. For this reason and because of our desire for 100% truth and reconciliation in the sport of cycling, we support him."
Travis Tygart, CEO of USADA, also issued a statement confirming that his organisation had interviewed Hesjedal: "As has been publicly reported, we can confirm that USADA, along with the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport (CCES), interviewed cyclist, Ryder Hesjedal, earlier this year as part of our ongoing investigation into the sport of cycling. Athletes like him, and others, who have voluntarily come in, taken accountability for their actions and have been fully truthful, are essential to securing a brighter future for the sport of cycling.
"As in all cases, where there is actionable evidence of doping within the statute of limitations, we have imposed discipline and announced sanctions. We continue our ongoing investigation into the sport of cycling, and have also been urging the UCI to take the decisive and transparent action it announced over a year ago to truly set the sport on a new foundation for the good of clean athletes.
"We are hopeful and confident that the new UCI leadership will fulfill its promise of conducting a full and independent process to finally put this sport on a new path toward integrity that protects the rights of clean athletes, and believe strongly the time for this is now."
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