Millar aims for Tour comeback

British rider David Millar, who is currently serving a two-year ban for possession of EPO, hopes to return to racing in the 2006 Tour de France.

Millar is about to sign a deal with Saunier Duval, according to an interview in The Times, and will be able to race from June 23, though he will have to be selected by the team in order to line up in Strasbourg on July 1.

After his ban, Millar fled France and relocated in Hayfield, Derbyshire and stopped riding. "I had a long time off the bike, when I just didn't even touch it," he told The Times. "Last summer I started riding again, around the Peak District. I loved it and within a month felt like I was flying. It reminded me that actually I am quite good at it."

It was a crucial point in Millar's personal redemption, which required him to come back from further down than many riders convicted of drug use.

"Things kept getting worse, with financial issues and a lot of other escalating worries," Millar said of events after French police found an empty EPO vial at his home. "It was very hard. I think we all deal with those situations and get out of them differently. I had my own way of getting through it and getting my head back above water.

"I lost everything and was punished, but that's what punishment is. You don't come out of it easily. The circumstances dictated that I ended up paying a very high price for my errors compared to other people."

Millar believes his youth and inexperience led to his downfall, and wants to see more out-of-competition testing to deter other riders from following his path.

"The UCI has to instigate more out-of-competition and random testing," he said. "I've hardly heard of any of the boys undergoing random testing by the UCI. So where is all this testing? Random controls are the only way to stop it all.

"By all means test the top Tour favourites, with random tests on a regular basis. Cycling needs those kind of testing tactics - I think that all sport does. The UCI need to get a grip on it. Where is the prevention? Why don't the UCI publish lists of who they random-test each month and the results, so that we know they're doing it? It's the UCI's responsibility and I don't think they're fulfilling that responsibility."

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