British rider David Millar (Garmin-Chipotle) is hopeful that the implementation of anti-doping strategies in cycling will ultimately bear fruit. Millar, who was banned from the sport for two years in 2004 after admitting to using performance-enhancer EPO earlier in his career, said that a "cultural shift" was under way that could finally end the cheating.
"This is the first year where it is very hard to get away with (doping)," he told AP. "There was not an anti-doping culture before. All there was was an ethical thing, right and wrong. ... But if you want to do it wrong nobody is going to stop you. Even three years ago, you could get away with doping easily, (even) two years ago."
At this year's Tour, four riders tested positive for doping products. One of them, Riccardo Riccò of team Saunier Duval, has in the meantime admitted to taking the latest generation of EPO, for which a detection method was elaborated only very recently.
"What has happened of late is forcing people to understand what needs to be done. If they don't do it, they won't survive," Millar continued. "We had a doping culture in the past. In years to come, the cultural shift will allow that there is nothing for cyclists to hide. In five or six years time, we're literally going to be at the vanguard of anti-doping. They will take cycling as an example of what to do."
Millar looked at the anti-doping movement in a wider perspective. With the World Anti-Doping Agency founded only in 1999, its code implemented by sports organisations in 2004, and the UCI's biological passport and online whereabouts system only crated this year, it would take some time for the actions to bear fruit. "What everybody really forgets is that the anti-doping world is so young. WADA has only existed nine years, and the online whereabouts system was only put online this year," Millar said.