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Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) took home the best overall Canadian jersey for today's ride.
Cycling Canada, Garmin say case highlights need for amnesty
According to his team, the Canadian had already given the information of his past doping offences, which took place in 2003, to the anti-doping agencies from the USA and Canada before the statements in Rasmussen's autobiography, which is being published this week, made the press. Rasmussen states in the book that he helped Canadian mountain bikers Seamus McGrath, Chris Sheppard and Hesjedal learn how to dope.
"Cycling is my life and has been ever since I can remember. I have loved and lived this sport but more than a decade ago, I chose the wrong path," Hesjedal said. "And even though those mistakes happened more than 10 years ago, and they were short-lived, it does not change the fact that I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since.
"To everyone in my life, inside and outside the sport – to those that have supported me and my dreams – including my friends, my family, the media, fans, my peers, sponsors – to riders who didn't make the same choices as me all those years ago, I sincerely apologize for my part in the dark past of the sport. I will always be sorry."
Garmin-Sharp stated that Hesjedal had testified to the US Anti-Doping Agency and their counterpart, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports (CCES), well before Rasmussen's story came out.
"As we have said from the beginning, Slipstream Sports was created because we wanted to build a team where cyclists could compete 100% clean. And, as we have previously stated, our expectation is that anyone in our organization contacted by any anti-doping authority must be open and honest with that authority," the Slipstream statement read.
"Ryder is no exception and a year ago when he was contacted he cooperated fully and truthfully testified to USADA and CCES. For this reason and because of our desire for 100 per cent truth and reconciliation in the sport of cycling, we support him."
USADA confirmed to Cyclingnews that Hesjedal had been interviewed by them and CCES. “As has been publicly reported, we can confirm that USADA, along with the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport (CCES), interviewed cyclist, Ryder Hesjedal, earlier this year as part of our ongoing investigation into the sport of cycling," CEO Travis Tygart said. "Athletes like him and others, who have voluntarily come in, taken accountability for their actions and have been fully truthful, are essential to securing a brighter future for the sport of cycling.
"As in all cases, where there is actionable evidence of doping within the statute of limitations, we have imposed discipline and announced sanctions. We continue our ongoing investigation into the sport of cycling, and have also been urging the UCI to take the decisive and transparent action it announced over a year ago to truly set the sport on a new foundation for the good of clean athletes.
"We are hopeful and confident that the new UCI leadership will fulfill its promise of conducting a full and independent process to finally put this sport on a new path toward integrity that protects the rights of clean athletes, and believe strongly the time for this is now.”
Cycling Canada also stated that the allegations "are another example of why the international federation (International Cycling Union - UCI) needs to come to agreement with WADA on a way to deal with such allegations of historic doping".
"The WADA Code has a statute of limitations of eight years. As such, even if these three athletes admitted to these allegations, this information in and of itself, would not result in anti-doping rule violations. We believe that the UCI and WADA should continue to work toward an agreement on an amnesty program that would relate historic cases of doping that are outside the statute of limitations. This type of amnesty could allow cycling to deal with historic cases while learning the scope of the cheating and the methods that were employed to avoid detection."
Hesjedal stated that he "stopped what I was doing many years before I joined Slipstream Sports".
"I was and am deeply grateful to be a part of an organization that makes racing clean its first priority and that supports athletes for telling the truth," Hesjedal said. "I believe that being truthful will help the sport continue to move forward, and over a year ago when I was contacted by anti-doping authorities, I was open and honest about my past.
"I have seen the best and the worst of the sport and I believe that it is now in the best place it’s ever been. I look at young riders on our team and throughout the peloton, and I know the future of the sport has arrived. I'm glad that they didn’t have to make the same choices I did, and I will do everything I can to continue to help the sport that I love."