Garmin-Sharp's Tom Danielson is one of four current professional cyclists, along with teammates Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie plus Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Levi Leipheimer, currently serving a six-month ban resulting from testimony provided to the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as part of the organisation's investigation into doping activities carried out by Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team.
Danielson confessed to using erythropoietin (EPO), human growth hormone (hGH), testosterone, cortisone plus the use of prohibited blood transfusions during the 2005 and 2006 seasons while a member of the Discovery Channel Cycling Team, and the 34-year-old Colorado resident is in the midst of a six-month ban initiated on September 1, 2012.
While Danielson is prohibited from taking part in any activity or competition under the auspices of a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code during his ban, Danielson continues to act as an ambassador for the sport with a book due to be published in January, Tom Danielson's Core Advantage: Core Strength for Cycling's Winning Edge, plus involvement with actor and avid cyclist Patrick Dempsey in their Twenty Twenty (T20) Cycling project, featuring three week-long cycling-focused camps at a California fitness retreat, The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu, with each camp open to 16 guests.
The first of the camps will take place January 20-26, 2013, in the midst of Danielson's six-month ban, and during a media conference call which included Danielson and Dempsey, Cyclingnews asked Danielson about the effect that would have on his role at the camp and his authority as a professional cyclist.
"This sport has been through alot and the riders within the sport made the decision years ago to change the sport and you guys are all writing about that now and that's how it's all out in the public right now," said Danielson. "And the reason why the riders have changed the sport and the reason why we're talking about it now is to make sure it never, ever happens again. That if your kid gets on a bike and dreams about being a professional cyclist he'll never have to make a bad decision ever again. If he wants to be a professional cyclist he knows this is a great sport for him, great for his body, great for his family, great for his fans.
"Our sport has been through some tough times and I think that the people you're asking the question about, the people with the suspension right now in the off-season, have voluntarily taken that suspension to move the sport forward and provide awesome experiences for people, for the future of cycling.
"You're on a phone call with me right now and I knew if we put ourselves out here that I was going to be asked these questions and I want to be 100 percent transparent. I think that's what awesome about our sport, that's what links our fans. We talk about community - it's a community with the journalists, it's a community with the people reading it, it's a community everywhere and we want our bad-ass sport to be a great sport for everybody: professional athletes, aspiring professional athletes, kids, parents, everybody.
"So to answer your question, no, it doesn't affect my participation at the camp. I'm going to be there preaching cycling just like I'm preaching cycling to you, just like I'm going to preach cycling to everyone out here in Florida raising money to give kids bikes for Christmas." (Danielson was en route to Florida for the Everyone Rides event in Ft. Myers)."
Ten percent of the proceeds from the Twenty Twenty Cycling camps will be donated to junior cycling organisations.
"Hopefully we'll be able to raise substantial amounts of money over the years doing this so we'd like to give money along the way to programs that we're a part of," said Danielson. "I know Patrick has had a role in the high school mountain bike leagues in California, so that would be an obvious one to benefit. I'm involved in the Colorado mountain bike leagues so that would be another good one. Along the way we're going to meet great programs. Evelyn Stevens just brought up a great program to me the other day about getting cycling in middle schools called CYCLE Kids. I'd really like to get Patrick and I involved with that as well."
Despite all the sport's been through recently, Danielson remains optimistic about the future of professional cycling.
"I love cycling, I love my sport and I'm very excited about the path that it's moving forward on right now. I'm very excited for my two-and-a-half year-old son to start being more in cycling and I think it's a great sport for everybody."
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