Retired Norwegian rider Steffen Kjærgaard, who rode for US Postal from 2000 to 2003, has confessed to using EPO, starting in 1998. He had no knowledge of any other rider using doping products, he said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“For nearly 15 years I have kept a lie. What has emerged in recent weeks from the USADA revelations has forced to pull out my dark lies of the past,” Kjærgaard said, according to ProCycling.no.
He turned pro with TVM-Farm Frites in 1996, and joined Team Chicky World in 1998, before moving to US Postal. He rode the Tour de France in support of Lance Armstrong in 2000 and 2001.
He started doping in 1998, buying EPO on his own initiative, but relied on the help and guidance of Belgian doctor Georges Mouton. “I wanted help with my health and to avoid being caught. Good results paved the way for an offer from the U.S. Postal.”
Kjærgaard did not have to dope alone whilst at the US team, but was taken into the programme. “I was part of the now well-known U.S. Postal regime to prepare riders to the limit. I was on the carousel for nearly three seasons.”
However, he did not know what his teammates were doing, doping-wise, he claimed. “I did not have direct knowledge of this. It was a closed system, and I chose to keep it closed.”
The confession comes the day after the UCI announced that it would accept the lifetime ban for Lance Armstrong, based on USADA's anti-doping investigation.
“I have not been able to carry the lie anymore, so I am sitting here today. Hopefully something good out of it in time, but right now I am very hurt,” Kjærgaard said.
“I hope no other Norwegian cyclists are taking or have taken the choice I made 15 years ago.”
Kjærgaard's sports director at Chicky World was Kim Andersen, who denied knowing about the doping. He told Ekstrabladet.dk that he was surprised,”because I had no idea about it.”
Now with RadioShack-Nissan, Andersen said, “The whole thing is sad. That's all I can say.”