By Matt Majendie
BBC Sport in Liege
When David Millar donned the yellow jersey at the 2000 Tour de France - his first appearance at the race - talk of a first British winner was rife.
Millar could have his contract with Cofidis cancelled
He went on to win the white jersey - for best young rider in the race - and Lance Armstrong was already on his case, bidding to bring the Scot to his US Postal team whatever the cost.
The Texan continued to hammer the point but Millar stuck to his cause of leading Cofidis' charge and dreaming of future Tour glory.
A fortnight ago, the 27-year-old was the firm favourite to wear yellow at the end of Saturday's prologue in Liege. His picture even graces the official Tour guide.
But then his world came collapsing around him.
After being brought in for questioning, he admitted to the Paris-based judge investigating doping within his team that he had taken the banned substance EPO.
He was barred from competing in the race and his team have been quick to point out that, if Millar repeats such an admission to them, his contract will be ripped up with immediate effect.
And his Olympic ambitions - he probably would have been favourite for gold in the individual time trial - have also been left in tatters.
A seven-year professional career that promised so much could be over.
If banned for the maximum two years, he could come back but, at 29, his chances of rebuilding a career, in which he earned a reported £700,000-a-year salary, look anorexic rather than slim.
Millar is one of the peloton's quirkier characters and one of the more articulate riders.
Unlike many of his peers, he boasts interests far outside the sport. A keen music aficionado, he is also heavily into fashion and toyed with studying art at St Martin's College before taking up a professional cycling contract.
Born in Malta to Scottish parents, he was brought up in Hong Kong where his father still works as a commercial pilot. His parents divorced when he was younger and his mother moved to London.
In 1997 he turned professional, winning his first big race - the prologue of the Tour de l'Avenir in that year. But it was not until his early Tour triumph in 2000 that he started making headlines.
Millar wore the yellow jersey in the Tour four years ago
Soon afterwards, Armstrong came knocking. Some say Millar turned him down because he was too ambitious to support another rider; sceptics suggest he was unwilling to put in the hard work demanded by Armstrong.
His career was still heading in an upward climb, although glandular fever in 2001 effectively wiped out a season.
British journalist William Fotheringham noted: "He had figured out he was probably never going to win the Tour but he was still planning to give the Tour a real shot next year. The future still looked bright."
Should it be confirmed Millar took EPO, ex-British cyclist Graham Jones believes "he will not come back".
Jones, who enjoyed a best Tour finish of 20th in 1981, said: "I think we have seen the last of him. I hope I'm wrong but two years is a long time in cycling."
A popular figure in the peloton, many will hope Millar can rekindle some sort of career. For now, though, the signs are ominous.
His Cofidis sporting director Francis van Londersele said: "It's sad but, if it proves true, we have a zero-tolerance policy towards doping. It will be over."