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Michael Barry (Team Sky)
2006 crash made him realize “I don't want to be a doper any more”
Michael Barry has said that he only received “minimal” gains from doping at the US Postal team, and that he “didn't expect the mental toll” that it took on him. It took a serious crash in which he broke three vertebrae before he decided to stop cheating.
In an interview with torontolife.com Barry also talks about the moment USADA contacted him. “We know you were involved with U.S. Postal, and we want you to tell your story and testify,” they told him. “I knew it was time” to confess, he said, in response to a call he had been expecting “on some level” for a long time.
Barry retired from pro cycling this year, announcing his retirement before his affidavit in the USADA case against Lance Armstrong was released. In that document, he confessed to having doped whilst at US Postal Service from 2002 to 2006. He was also given a six-month suspension. Barry made a career as a solid domestique but also cultivated a persona as a staunch anti-doping advocate. Within days of USADA's reasoned decision Barry used an opinion piece within the press to express how cycling could improve its image.
However, in reality he started doping in 2003, “in an apartment in Girona, Spain, with a teammate,” he told torontolife.com. He didn't want to, but felt compelled to do so. “European racing was so fast and I wasn’t performing like I had been back home. I thought I could compete clean, but the pressure to perform was too much. I gave in.
“The drugs made me feel sluggish at first, but eventually I got used to them. I assumed they helped me physically, but I didn’t expect the mental toll. If you’re not sleeping and feel paranoid and guilty all the time, it affects your performance massively. It was only once I stopped that I realized the gains were minimal.”
His wife, Dede Demet, also a retired cyclist, knew of his doping. “It would have been impossible to hide it from here. Most of the doping I did was at our home in Spain. I kept the drugs in the fridge.”
He stopped doping in 2006, after a crash left him with serious injuries. “I crashed in a race and almost died. I came around a corner, hit a crowd barrier and went flying. I was lying motionless in a pool of blood. The TV crews didn’t film my body because they thought I was dead. I woke up in a CT scan machine with three broken vertebrae, and I started to think, “What the hell am I doing?” My wife and I had a six-month-old son. I realized I didn’t want to be a doper anymore.
He did not directly address the question of whether Armstrong doped, saying only, “The evidence is pretty damning. We can all draw our own conclusions.”