Stuart O'Grady has been around long enough to have witnessed the numerous doping scandals that have plagued the world of professional cycling but admits to being overwhelmed by the findings released in USADA’s report into systematic doping at US Postal.
The Orica-GreenEdge rider has been indirectly affected by the findings after his current director sportif Matt White admitted to being a part of the doping practices during his time at the US Postal team. White has since stepped down from his position at the team until a formal investigation has been conducted.
O'Grady has ridden 14 Tours de France since his debut in 1998 when the Festina scandal occurred and says that while his sport has endured suspicion and rumour throughout the years, he’s remained a believer, until now.
"I'm not stupid - there's always been rumours and talk. Like anything in sport, you have your questions and doubts," he told Adelaide Now.
"I've been around through the good, bad and ugly. From 1998 in the Tour when the Festina affair blew up and what's happened recently. I'm in as much shock as anybody. But you want to believe that what you're seeing is real.
"I believed that he (Armstrong) won those seven Tours clean. I wanted to believe that like everyone else.
O'Grady says that it’s difficult to ignore the evidence against Lance Armstrong in light of the comprehensive USADA report which included 26 individual affidavits and 11 of who were teammates of the former Tour de France winner.
"There's so much damning evidence against him that it's obviously looking like this happened and I'm as shocked as anybody.
It’s not all bad news according to O'Grady who believes the sport will be able to recover and move forward like it has many times before. He also added that he has never considered doping at any point throughout his career.
"It's never been a thought, never been an option. Ever since I've been with (coach) Charlie Walsh through the Institute of Sport, it (doping) and all that was just never an option.
"I've been happy with what I've been able to achieve with my natural ability."
"When these kind of things happened in the past, in '04 when Cofidis went through an affair when I was part of it, I was gutted and shocked,"
"Instead of throwing in the towel and saying 'stuff it', I came out and had the best year of my life. I won an Olympic medal and my first classic.
"We've got to look at how the sport has evolved. It has changed a lot in the last 10 years, all for the good. You've got to stay strong, be positive and look to the future."
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