Following the news that Team Sky had released Steven de Jongh from his role as directeur sportif, the former professional has now disclosed the details of his past doping. A statement was released by Team Sky announcing his dismissal from the team and now de Jongh has told his side of the story.
De Jongh retired in 2009 after a career that spanned 12 seasons. The Dutchman turned professional in 1998 with TVM – Farm Frites before spending six season, from 2000-2005 with Rabobank. The final four years of his career were spent with QuickStep.
The now 38-year-old’s biggest achievements was winning the 2003 edition of E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and capturing two editions of Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne in 2004 and 2008. In his open letter, De Jongh insists his brief and sporadic use of EPO was undertaken without the encouragement or assistance of others.
"This is a hard thing to talk about, but I'd like to tell the truth about my experience of doping," de Jongh writes on his personal website.
"I've been shocked by the stories and rumours of organised doping programmes because I've simply never seen anything like that."
"My experience was very different. My doping was done by me, and nobody ever forced me. Of course, I always knew it was wrong and was scared of the risks I was taking. And I will always regret what I did."
De Jongh claims his use of EPO occurred in the early years of his career from 1998, when he turned professional with TVM before deciding to stop in 2000 when he joined Rabobank. He won stage 7 at Tirreno-Adriatico and a stage of Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in 1999 while coming close to taking a win at the 2000 edition at the Giro d’Italia, settling for second place behind Guidi Fabrizio in a bunch sprint on stage 16.
"I took EPO on a few occasions from 1998 to 2000. It was very easy to get hold of and I knew it couldn't be detected. I was a fairly young rider, the opportunity was there right in front of me and it was a pretty big challenge to stay away from the temptation. There was no pressure at all from my team, the Directors or the Doctors to take it. This was my choice."
"I stopped because it was wrong and it wasn't worth the risks - to my health, to the family I wanted, or of getting caught. The years after I'd stopped doping were sometimes hard. But cycling was slowly getting better and I managed to win races clean. I think the ‘whereabouts system' and biological passport were great things for this sport."
"I've always believed that everyone should take responsibility for their own decisions and it's easy to see that I made entirely the wrong ones in the past. I made my biggest mistakes a long time ago but I need to admit this so I can move on. I want to stay in this sport but I know that it can't be with Team Sky. It's sad to be leaving but there's no other option."
De Jongh admits that his admission also came as a shock to his family and friends who were also unaware of his part indiscretions.
"I truly regret what I did. And I believe it's important that if you make a mistake you can still get a chance in life. It would be a huge regret if my mistakes of 12 years ago meant I could no longer work in cycling. People might accept and forgive if we can only tell them what happened."
"This admission has been a big shock to my girlfriend, family and friends, and I am thankful for all the support they are giving me. After this difficult decision I need to re-establish their confidence in me and to prove to my girlfriend and kids that I can give them the future we want."
"I hope very much to stay in this sport, and I'm sure I can play my part in its clean future."
De Jongh’s full statement can be read on his personal website.