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Exclusive interview: Stuart O'Grady breaks silence on doping

Aaron S. Lee & Zeb Woodpower
February 25, 23:20,
February 25, 23:32
First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Stuart O'Grady is launching his book Battle Scars and answering questions on his career

Stuart O'Grady is launching his book Battle Scars and answering questions on his career

  • Stuart O'Grady is launching his book Battle Scars and answering questions on his career
  • Stuart O'Grady (Orica GreenEdge) said that doping was never an option thoughout his lengthy career
  • Stuart O'Grady's book is titled 'Battle Scars'
  • Stuart O'Grady spoke to Cyclingnews while Sydney

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Australian transitioning to family life following doping admission

With the impending release of his book, Battle Scars, former Australian cyclist Stuart O'Grady has embarked on a media tour and sat down with Cyclingnews for his first major interview since his retirement and shares exactly what the title means to him personally.

"Battle Scars is a name that is very appropriate to my career it has been one hell of a journey," O'Grady said. "There have been some fantastic moments, and there have been some horrible moments. It's a cycling career that spans over 20 years and I have plenty of scars and seems like an appropriate title considering what's come out."

Having announced his retirement from professional cycling on the first Monday after the 2013 Tour de France, O'Grady then admitted to using EPO ahead of the 1998 Tour on the eve of the French Senate report into doping during that year's grand tour being publicly released.

Following his admission, O'Grady told the Australian newspaper, The Herald Sun, "I sourced it (EPO) myself. There was no one else involved. It didn't involve the team in any way," he said.

The French senate report indicated that O'Grady had recorded a ‘suspicious' doping test. O'Grady has reiterated that he only used the drug once, in the build up to the Tour, and following the discovery of numerous doping products in the car of Festina soigneur, Willy Voet, he explained to The Herald Sun that, "When the Festina Affair happened, I smashed it [EPO], got rid of it and that was the last I ever touched it."

O'Grady's admission of doping cast into doubt his subsequent results while racing, although he insists that his 2007 Paris-Roubaix and Olympic successes were achieved without the aid of drugs.

In the sit-down interview with Cyclingnews on Wednesday, O'Grady said of his time withholding the truth: "I just kind of buried it so far back in my mind because it was just one of those things that I hoped would never surface. It was the darkest period of my career. It was the darkest period of cycling in general."

Since his admission of doping, O'Grady has retreated from public life and told Cyclingnews that he has ridden his bike once since July – a casual ride in Luxembourg with his father and 10-year-old son.

"It's been a big transition, but to be honest I'm really enjoying it. Just being a dad and husband. Being normal," he said.

"I see my bikes in the shed and look at them and just shake my head and say no, not yet… it just symbolizes pain and suffering and a lot of hard work – or Battle Scars."

ralphbert 5 months ago
Don't buy dopers books when they aren't telling the whole truth IMO.
Silver Bullet 5 months ago
"breaks silence on doping" - what a farkin joke of a title that is.
Particle 5 months ago
As an Australian, I would like to believe O'Grady but I don't.
NashbarShorts 5 months ago
He stopped using EPO in '98, even though there wasn't even a test for it until '01. Yeah, that's believable. Crikey, mate --
rastymick 5 months ago
How convenient: I used it only once, no one else was involved... only a complete idiot would believe him. That's not a doping admission, that's a marketing gag to sell just another "after-career" book. And I just can't hear those sort of statements any longer: "I just kind of buried it so far back in my mind because it was just one of those things that I hoped would never surface. It was the darkest period of my career..." Those guys dope for 15+ years, find it the most normal thing in the world and when their back is against the wall, they tell us, I tried only once, it weighed so heavy on my conscious, it destroyed my life, I just had to get the truth out (in form of a book and a massive media campaign)... This has absolutely NOTHING to do with a doping confession and I rather prefer those guys who say nothing at all and don't try to sell us just another "my incredible up and down career" book.
yossarian42 5 months ago
Silver Bullet 5 months ago
You are so full of sh1t Stuey. Your personify Omerta and all the muck it layers on our sport Seriously, how dare you so forcefully insult the intelligence of your fans with this "only once, was only me" garbage. The only saving grace of this act is that it rids any doubt of your complete lack of character. I am sure there are parts of your book which are true, and a great read. But in terms of a pure work of non-fiction, Your omerta b/s has ensured that it as useful as toilet paper. maybe.
Southernman 5 months ago
spot on silver bullet, how embaressing for him I just think he's a complete dork.
RiccoDinko 5 months ago
I call BS.
Getagrip 5 months ago
No really... I didn't even inhale.... !
wirral 5 months ago
Of course he is lying. Everybody knows he is lying on a number of levels. He didn't source it himself. It wasn't only once, etc. etc. But it needs to be put in perspective. Everyone was doing it and all the other sports like NFL, NBA, association football, Australian football and cross-country skiing get a free pass.
ianfra 5 months ago
How do you know he is lying. He may well be telling the truth. You do not know. Only Stuart knows and he has to live with that. No need for your anger. Calm down!
PatsyCline 5 months ago
Well the evidence, both circumstantial and from other riders doesn't bode well for O'Grady. I wished the media would ask the hard questions. For instance, O'Grady claims to have only doped once, in 1998, prior to the start of the TdF. His motive? If he didn't then there was no way he would even be able to keep up with anyone at all. Fast forward to mid-00s. The peloton is faster than ever. The doping is more sophisticated than ever. And now, here we have O'Grady driving the peloton over mountain after mountain, tirelessly might I add. And at such a pace he is actually dropping GC favourites - riders who have since admitted they were doping at the time. Why can't a journalist ask O'Grady how he improved so much? From a 'no hoper' to less than 10 years later dropping dopers in the TdF? You never know, if he rode clean for CSC [tongue in cheek], and the rest of the peloton remained off the juice, perhaps he was good enough to win the race! And let's not kid ourselves here. CSC / Bjarne Riis - of course there was systematic doping in place. If I had to choose between Riis' version of events and Hamilton's, I would choose the later.
yenrod 5 months ago
Are you for real 'ianfra' = He rode for Festina (everybody was doped to fk in that team), Everyone of that period bar 1 or 2 wasn't, i could go on...You're obviously a 'pro' winding the metronome up; eh ?
86TDFWinner 5 months ago
Doesn't matter "if everyone was doing it", that's a strawman argument. If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you then do it too? he could've(and should"ve) never bothered to do it. Stand out and say "nah, I'll pass".
Silver Bullet 5 months ago
Exactly. Per wirral's "perspective", unfortunately the default assumption these days has to be that all pro riders are full of sh1t. Can the pros of genuine character PLEASE STAND UP??? We all know the peloton was doped to the gills. We know it. That was how it was. Just show some damn character instead of trying to throw a book full of sh1t down our throats. thanks.
yossarian42 5 months ago
Good luck with finding a pro to stand up... General operating procedure is: head down, admit absolute minimum. (+ only talk to media when book about to come out),
Pedal Pusher 5 months ago
Hey Silver Bullet - how about you post under your real name - you are asking Ogrady for honesty but cowardly hide behind Silver Bullet - many of the comments on here show the same hypocrisy.....scream OMERTA, he's lying, he's a cheat etc etc and yet don't have the courage to post under their real name - people in glass houses...... Wonder how many of you fine upstanding citizens can stand up and say that throughout your life you have always behaved with honesty and honour and then leave yourself open to public scrutiny that allows others to trash your reputation. Typical crass behaviour of a coward!
Silver Bullet 5 months ago
I would happily tell Stuey everything i have written here right to his face. Just give me that chance. Omerta my *ss. You must know where his is right now, seeing you are so obviously involved in the sale of this folder of lies he calls a memoir. so do tell?
PCM Geek 5 months ago
I'm sure you are the perfect human being yourself and you never did anything wrong or made any mistakes in your entire life. You (and all the rest of the self righteous, self proclaimed arm chair doping and cycling experts on here) are saints and you feel that gives you the right to tell everybody else writing a comment exactly how wrong their opinion is and how stupid they are just because they don't agree with your slanted view. Your hatred for people that you perceive to have done something wrong such as doping and your dislike of people with an opinion different than yours is rather unnerving. It shows an ingrained ignorance and self centered attitude that borders on the absurd. Absurd in that you believe that the way you think is right and everybody else is wrong. How do you know how many times O'grady doped or why he doped and on and on. In reality it has nothing to do with you, it didn't hurt you personally yet you rail against it with such vigor and hatred that it seems to consume you. You need to chill out dude (and so do 90% of the rest of the armchair experts on here) because its not good for your health. Ya know what? In the grand scheme of things all this doping from the past and your anger towards it doesn't mean anything. It's just a bunch of guys riding around on a bike so chill already. There are a lot more important things in this world such as war, famine, disease, poverty and many other worse situations than some doped up athlete. Maybe you need to find something else to occupy your time rather than getting all hot and bothered over some silly comments. Chill out dude and don't let it bother you so much. Who cares in the grand scheme of things... Cheers...
notworthaToot 5 months ago
@PCM - talk about getting all hot and bothered over comments - look in a mirror!
Silver Bullet 5 months ago
yeah nice work Geek. was never angry about doping but dont let that stop you punching out the paragraphs...
sbroaddus 5 months ago
there are some young pros on the scene, good ones, that are doing exactly what you are talking about. Kittel, Phil Gaimon, Phil won his first Pro Tour race in Argentina earlier this year (he's got "clean" tattooed on his arm if I'm not mistaken)... these guys and some of their peers are serious about riding clean and they were not brought up with Omerta hanging over their heads. they could use a little support instead of all the cynical, dire, nihilistic stuff that the "they all dope" crowd keeps spewing out all the time.
B_Ugli 5 months ago
I am not convinced Kittel is clean after it came out about him giving up his blood for manipulation at 18. I know there are various versions of how it came about but whatever way you dress it up it doesn't smack of a lad with a clean attitude towards sport in any way shape or form.
PCM Geek 5 months ago
With views like you hold, perhaps the authorities should just take every rider that has ever suited up for a pro race during the past and the present and line them all up in front of an inquisition. The ones that are "suspected", "thought to have done something wrong", "rumored to have doped or cheated" and the ones that have "hearsay or circumstantial evidence" against them can be "assumed guilty" and then put in front of a firing squad and shot. This would be one way of dealing with all of these dopers and it should serve to satisfy all of you self righteous (never did anything wrong myself) saints. This doping madness is bordering on being just that, an inquisition. So let's break out the tar and feathers or tatoo a big red D on all of their foreheads because we all know they made the wrong choice and that we would never do the same if we were in their position...
danjo007 5 months ago
why.. why... why are the cyclist of "that" generation think here's a way I can cash in on CHEATING
ianfra 5 months ago
They are not cashing in on cheating. People can write their memoirs and very often memoirs help future generations approach their activity with more knowledge. CN may censor their forum and ban people for being honest, but there is no need to censor writers.
PatsyCline 5 months ago
He can also, without making money from a book, donate his time, donate his efforts, all at no cost to educate junior riders about the perils of doping. He could also sit in front of a computer, start up a blog and share his memoirs with us free of change. He could go to the authorities and educate them on why he doped, how he got away with it and offer some insight into how to avoid others from cheating their way through a professional career. Again he could volunteer his services for no charge. He is cashing in. Plain and simple.
Pedal Pusher 5 months ago
PatsyCline - you are an anonymous coward
Matt R 5 months ago
They just might be Pedal. Seriously you would hate your parents calling you Patsy! [No offense Patsy [if that is your name]]. They may or may not be anonymous, but I think they are 100% right. I might just add one further point. O'Grady could take proceeds from book sales and give it to a charity; if of course, he isn't doing this for the money.
nccyclist 5 months ago
So Pedal Pusher what is your name, you are also speaking harse behind your screen name. By the way before you call me a coward; my name is Doug.
Pedal Pusher 5 months ago
Come on guys full names. I'm not passing judgement on O'Grady - I hate the use of Ped's or doping and I'm all for sanctions and suspensions. It's just the those who sit in in Ivory towers and shoot from the mouth without thinking about the consequences - it's cowardly.
Spuddieblue 5 months ago
So come on Pedal Pusher.... You going to use your real name? Put up or shut up.
PCM Geek 5 months ago
Why should he do any of that? It isn't his responsibility to do anything like you say or think he should. His only responsibility is to his own conscience and his god (if he has any.) So go back to listening to your country western music Patsy Cline. A biking / doping expert, you are NOT...
Silver Bullet 5 months ago
his own conscience? seems he might draw blanks there.
PCM Geek 5 months ago
Obviously he has no conscience at all but why does it bother you so much? You are a very angry person Silver, maybe you need to take a step back and try to figure out why you hold so much hatred inside towards people that never did anything to you personally. Maybe you competed against them or something and you feel cheated? Then thats fine but there comes a time when you have to let it go or it will consume you. Or maybe you're just a fan like the rest of us. If thats the case then in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter at all does it? All they are or were was just a bunch of guys riding a bike in some silly race. Its silly to let that bother you so much. If they doped then so what. I feel sad for you having to go through life carrying such anger and hatred inside like that. I pray that one day you can just let it all go and enjoy life. Get on your bike and go for a ride, maybe that will help you cope. God bless you...
Silver Bullet 5 months ago
got 70km in before work today Geek. Feeling just fine! thanks for your genuine concern though.
86TDFWinner 5 months ago
86TDFWinner- LOL, "I only used it once"...sure you did. You're a liar and an admitted doper, why would we believe anything you have to say. Why do dopers think that by lying about how much they did or didn;t do, we'll somehow "forgive"them?
FaustoCoppi 5 months ago
Enjoy life
appelen 5 months ago
The guy is a total duchebag
Pedal Pusher 5 months ago
And you are an anonymous coward
PCM Geek 5 months ago
Plus, it takes one to know one...
BarkingOwl 5 months ago
That's a pretty brief (and lame) interview. Is there a second part?
RidemanRide100 5 months ago
Couldn't agree more Owl. Embarrassing "interview" if that's what they want to call it. I was hoping there might be a little more "juice" in the story instead of this "did it one" stuff.
rastymick 5 months ago
No, no, you got this wrong. It's not an interview, it's an ad for a book called "Battle Scars".