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Last Updated: Friday, 25 May 2007, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
Riis confesses to doping offences
Bjarne Riis
For a time it was a part of everyday life for me

Bjarne Riis
The 1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis has admitted using the banned blood-boosting drug erythropoietin (EPO) during his career.

Riis said he no longer considered himself a worthy winner of the Tour having taken drugs from 1993 to 1998.

And the Dane, who is sporting director of Team CSC, added he would willingly give back the title he won for Telekom.

"My jersey's at home in a cardboard box. They are welcome to come and get it," said the 43-year-old.

His confession came a day after former Telekom team-mates Eric Zabel and Rolf Aldag also admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.

Aldag is the sporting director of T-Mobile, which was formerly the Telekom team.

Riis is the first rider to admit having used performance-enhancing drugs while winning the Tour de France.

"I have taken doping. I have taken EPO," he said. "I have made errors and I would like to apologise.

"For a time it was a part of everyday life for me. I have bought it myself and taken it.

"I have lied to myself and to others. For that I would obviously like to say I'm sorry.

I did this for the sake of the team, so the team can continue

Riis on Team CSC

"Like everyone else I've made mistakes in my life. This was my choice and my mistake and I have to take responsibility for it.

"I'm proud of my results even though they were not completely honest. I'm coming out today to secure the right future for the sport."

He went on to allege that former Telekom boss Walter Godefroot turned a blind eye to the drug use in the team and claimed he had not suffered any side effects from EPO.

"The only effect I had was that I rode faster," Riis said, adding he had also used cortisone and human growth hormone.

EPO has been proven to boost endurance levels and two former Telekom doctors have admitted they administered banned substances when working for the team in the 1990s.

Another former team member, fellow Dane Brian Holm, also admitted on Thursday he had taken EPO.

Danish Team CSC recently launched what it described as the most rigorous anti-doping programme in cycling.

All doping sinners now have the chance to be honest and break the cartel of silence

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Riis said he would remain with the team, adding he hoped his confession would let the riders focus on the future instead of on media speculation about his past.

"I did this for the sake of the team, so the team can continue," he added.

"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."

CSC parted company with Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso when the Italian was implicated in a Spanish police probe into blood doping by a group of doctors in Madrid.

Basso has always denied any links with the doctors.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged cyclists who used performance-enhancing drugs to come clean.

"All doping sinners now have the chance to be honest and break the cartel of silence, if they want to give their sport the chance of a clean new beginning, free from manipulation," she said.



SEE ALSO
Defiant Basso protests innocence
01 Jul 06 |  Cycling
Drug probe forces out Tour stars
30 Jun 06 |  Cycling
EPO explained
28 Jan 06 |  Sport Homepage


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