With his 50th birthday approaching next month, there is still a degree of acrimony as Johan Museeuw looks back on his time in the peloton.
The Belgian, who in 2007 admitted to not being “100 per cent honest”, has given an interview in which he looks back at doping during his era and claims omertà persists to this day. He also opens fire on Wilfried Peeters, a key domestique who helped him to become one of the greatest Classics riders of all time, with three victories at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix to his name.
“I took drugs because everyone took them back then. But is it fair that only me and other familiar faces like [Lance] Armstrong and [Michael] Boogerd now serve as sinners? I think not. It makes me feel wronged. Even today I see riders in the peloton who also rode back then, but they remain silent,” said Museeuw in a Q and A with De Zondag.
“It was inevitable in that period. I only regret that not everyone has confessed. I understand that people were disappointed. Fortunately, they also realise that everyone fought with equal resources and they still see me as the champion of my generation.
"Let me say that in my time, maybe two per cent of riders didn’t take EPO. Edwig van Hooydonck is one of them. But everyone else was on the same track. With the difference that they remain silent and for me that was no longer an option. That confession was for me a salvation."
Museeuw is particularly forthright when talking about the breakdown of his friendship with Wilfried Peeters, who rode by his side over the course of the most successful years of his career. Museeuw claims that Peeters, now a directeur sportif at Etixx-QuickStep under the duo’s old boss Patrick Lefevere, turned his back on their friendship in the wake of the 2007 confession. It has left a sour taste.
“I sometimes dedicated victories to teammates – back then I thought that was friendship. Today I know that it is not possible to hold onto friends in cycling. You are no more than the number that sticks to your back," said Museeuw.
“We spent years together, we went on a journey together. If you have 10 years of sharing rooms, then you know everything about each other. Everything.
“After my confession he turned his back on me. You’d think at such a difficult time, you’d be able to call your good friend, but he turned his back to protect his position at Quick-Step. Then you know: that was not friendship. That's a wound that cannot be repaired.”
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