In the wake of the news late last week that riders Arnaud Papillon and Miguel Agreda Rojas had independently sought out and used the banned performance-enhancing drug EPO, David Veilleux (Europcar) and with Louis Garneau have decided to publicly come out in defence of clean cycling.
In a prepared statement, Veilleux fired back at critics of the sport, and rejected the idea that doping is the only path to success in cycling.
"Today, I take part in high level competitions that I used to watch on video as a kid," said Veilleux. "I have gotten to this level with hard work, self-discipline and lots of determination.
"It has been possible for me, like others, to reach the professional level without risking my health, my life and that of people around me. I sincerely wish that the young people around me who want to become cycling racers do not let themselves be lured by a few individuals’ wrongdoing.
"To race cleanly and win is possible."
Garneau echoed the sentiments of Veilleux in a similarly impassioned statement.
"When the news about Agreda came out last Friday night, I was surprised and angry, but [for David and I] the Papillon and Agreda cases are exceptions."
"I want to ask parents and coaches to be ever vigilant with children and young adults. An athlete on drugs often isn’t very obvious. We must make people aware of the problem again and talk about it as much as needed. Most of all, we all have to work hand in hand to win this fight against the worldwide performance enhancing drugs problem."
A clear approach for the future
Garneau also coupled his words with a strategy to stamp out and discourage future doping practices within his organisation. Among the key steps to be implemented by Garneau's teams in 2012 are to:
- Instil an anti-doping culture and help educate them accordingly to reject the idea of cheating to win
- Identify the Garneau team jersey with the FQSC (Fédération québécoise des sports cyclistes) slogan, “Roulez gagnant au naturel”, as well as its national equivalent, “Race clean, own your victory”, implemented by the CCA (Canadian Cycling Association).
- Institute an internal screening system in conjunction with the CCES (Canadian Center for Ethics in Sports)
- Include an aggressive fine if a rider tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Garneau also vowed to fully investigate the positives of Papillon and Agreda in conjunction with the relevant authorities.
"The next step for us is that we now have to go to the source and find out who the suppliers of performance enhancing drugs are. That is something that will also involve the police over the next few weeks."
Papillon has already accepted a two-year ban from the CCES, while Agreda is still awaiting what will likely be the same penalty.