Former pro says Riis blood doped in 1996
Along with supporting the prospect of a truth and reconciliation programme within cycling, Tyler Hamilton has encouraged two of his former directors to come forward and share their knowledge of doping. Hamilton rode for Johan Bruyneel at US Postal between 1999 and 2001 before moving to Bjarne Riis’s CSC team for the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
Bruyneel is currently embroiled with a USADA investigation and faces charges relating to doping that could see him banned for life. Lance Armstrong, who was the leader of US Postal team at the centre of the investigation, has already confessed to doping during parts of his career.
Riis on the other hand, has been spared any longstanding investigation despite a string of his riders being implemented or involved in doping. Along with Hamilton, Alberto Contador, Frank Schleck, Jörg Jaksche, Michele Bartoli, Dave Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde, and Michael Rasmussen have all either faced doping suspensions or admitted to doping while riding under Riis’s care.
Riis has confessed to his own doping as a rider, and penned his autobiography, "Stages of Light and Dark" in 2012. In the book he admits to his own individual choices but Hamilton confirmed to Cyclingnews that Riis had a blood transfusion during the Tour de France in 1996. Riis won the event but only confessed to taking EPO.
“If they [Riis and Bruyneel] come forward and tell all then why not give them another shot. They shouldn’t just get a free walk. Everyone has to have some sort of consequence,” Hamilton told Cyclingnews.
As for Riis, Hamilton said, “There’s obviously more that he needs to open up about. He should be given that opportunity with some sort of knowledge that he’ll get another chance. If not it will remain the same and secrets will remain in the peloton.”
Hamilton, meanwhile, will give testimony in the ongoing Operacion Puerto trial later this month. He will give evidence from the US, visiting the Spanish embassy in Washington. Hamilton was client of Dr. Fuentes.
“I go in and I’ll be doing it at the Spanish embassy. They can ask any question and I’ll answer it all honestly. There’s a lot of history there, but I don’t think there will be any smoking guns. I’m not really preparing for anything, I’ll just answer the questions truthfully. The more information we can find out about the past the better the sport of cycling will be in moving forward.”