The now former TIAA-CREF team physician Prentice Steffen has retracted the comments he made recently in L'Equipe concerning Lance Armstrong and other athletes, and doping. As a one-time doctor with the US Postal Service team in the 1990s, Steffen's comments reverberated around the world as part of the ongoing allegations that Armstrong used EPO in the 1999 Tour.
In a statement, Dr Steffen apologised for any personal comments he made about Armstrong and others: "It was inappropriate for me to suggest that 'the bad guys, like Armstrong, dope, and the good guys, like Hamilton, dope too.' I do not know Lance Armstrong personally and have I never witnessed him taking banned substances. I based my assumptions about Mr. Armstrong on rumours I had heard, instead of on anything remotely factual and I want to issue this public retraction of comments.
"Second, my intentions in participating in the L'Equipe interview were not to impugn anyone's character. I understood the purpose of the interview to be a discussion of the great strides being made by anti-doping agencies around the globe and the opportunity to improve testing for banned substances. As a Board Certified Emergency Room and Sports Medicine physician, I feel it is my duty to help USADA, WADA, and the UCI when I see a potential problem with testing protocols or methods. Unfortunately, the L'Equipe article overshadowed these issues and focused, instead, on my comments relating to specific athletes.
"Third, it is true that some athletes in the professional peloton, accused of doping, have willingly confessed that it is prevalent in the professional cycling. Just as many athletes, however, have done exceedingly well in the sport and have never been implicated in any way. It is an unfair assertion that the only way to achieve success in cycling is through doping. Many other factors such as hard work, dedication, and natural ability play crucial roles in any athlete's success.
"Fourth, I am extremely sorry for any negative impact my comments may have had on Team TIAA-CREF, its sponsors, or staff. My personal comments were not intended to reflect their views. My comments were not approved by Team TIAA-CREF, its sponsors, or staff. I am gravely sorry that Team TIAA-CREF was even mentioned in association with my personal comments."
Dr Steffen finished by announcing his resignation from TIAA-CREF. "I should permanently remove myself from the role of team physician at Team TIAA-CREF, as my comments have damaged and dampened the spirits of these young athletes," he concluded.
Cyclingnews coverage of the L'Equipe allegations
June 27, 2006 - Carmichael defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006 - Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
June 2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
June 1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
May 14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation
Click here for full coverage of the L'Equipe allegations.