RIIS: "I TOOK EPO"
Bjarne Riis, CSC team manager and 1996 Tour de France winner, has admitted to using EPO in a televised press conference today (Friday).
This follows Thursday's T-Mobile press conference, during which Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag confessed to using the performance-enhancing drug EPO during their cycling careers. Riis was a team-mate of Zabel and Aldag on the Telekom squad when he won the Tour de France.
"I have taken EPO. I have made errors and I would like to apologise," Riis said to the assembled journalists in Copenhagen, Denmark. Riis stated that he doped between 1993 and 1998, which includes the year in which he won the Tour de France - 1996. However, he did not specify how the drug was administered.
This, we believe, makes Bjarne Riis the first Tour de France winner to openly admit to doping. Perhaps others will follow...
CSC have issued a statement on Riis's behalf, which is reproduced below.
Concerning the current debate in Germany, Bjarne Riis would like to give the following statement:
After the long run of confessions concerning the Telekom team in the 1990s, I have decided to give a statement about my involvement.
I have decided this for two reasons.
First of all, I'm doing this to keep the focus on the work we are doing today that keeps cycling in the right perspective. The massive steps we have taken to fight doping and the ways in which we have secured that the team rests on the right and proper foundations.
I think if we are to talk about doping, we should talk about what to do now and not about the mistakes in the past. The recent developments in Germany have taken the balance out of this and therefore I want to set the record straight. And I want to do this, because the future of cycling needs the right focus.
Second of all, I'm doing this to get rid of the endless discussions about things that are truly in the past and that I personally have put behind a long time ago. I don't want my personal past to overshadow that work and brilliant effort that Team CSC is doing today. We are the number one team in the world for the second year running and I want my riders and sponsors to be proud of that. They work, within the rules, with passion, professionalism and commitment and I want them to keep on doing that. When I was a rider in the 1990s, I worked extremely hard to get my results. I worked extremely hard, day in day out and I sacrificed a lot just even to be part of the best. In that time, the perspective on doping and preparation was wrong and misguided.
That also means that I did things that I shouldn't have and I have regretted that ever since. Those were mistakes that I take the full responsibility for and I don't have anyone to blame but myself. We all make mistakes and I think my biggest mistake was to let my ambition get the better of me. That I have had to deal with a long time ago and I am glad to say that I am a lot wiser now. Both in my personal and in my professional life.
I don't want the mistakes of my personal past to stand in the way of the work we are doing today. I did what it took to compete at the highest level back then, and it's a deep satisfaction for me that those days are long gone and the sport has moved in the right direction. If that wasn't the case, I wouldn't be here today.
I have learned from my past – for better and for worse. The experience and wisdom I have gained informed my decision to come back to cycling and has energized me to create the best team in the world.