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German veteran reflects on three major doping scandals
Jens Voigt has written a lengthy blog detailing his own career against the backdrop of the various doping scandals that have come to light - from Festina to the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong and his associates.
Voigt, who now rides for RadioShack-Nissan at age 41, explained that he too has been shocked by the depth of the most-recent scandal which claimed the team's general manager Johan Bruyneel.
The German admits that while some people might label him as being "naive", he feels it's important to acknowledge that he has never seen anyone physically dope.
"It's true that I sometimes suspected some riders of doping," he writes on Bicycling.com. "However - and this is important - I never saw anything firsthand. So I couldn't call anybody out, and I wasn't about to focus my energy on something that was not clear. Like I said, it only poisons the soul."
Voigt said that witnessing the fallout from the Festina scandal in 1998 when he was riding with the Crédit Agricole team left him "shattered." He also explained that team management made it clear that doping was not an option.
While riding for CSC in 2006, Voigt was left shocked by Operación Puerto.
"Again it left me thinking, "Really? So many people involved? And almost so perfectly organized. And such little guilt?" I mean, 200 names and about 50 cyclists. So many! I found it hard to believe the dimensions that this affair had."
Voigt also offers that his samples may be tested and re-tested over time because has has "nothing to hide."
He also explained that the focus on doping within the sport has taken a toll on his family, and is "sick" of having his wife asked if he has ever doped throughout his career.
"Once in the German army, when I served my military duty, our commanding officer told us, 'Here we lead by example. I will never ask anything of you that I would not be willing to do myself.' And that's who I am," says Voigt. "I hope to lead by example, helping the people and younger riders to stay away from drugs and have a good and long and healthy career."
Voigt believes that the fact that he is able to continue racing and still be competitive at age 41, is testament to a cleaner peloton.
"We start with the same chances for everyone because there's no organized doping anymore," he said. "It's the cycling of today, where hard work and dedication pay off."