Australian cyclist Stuart O’Grady could be stripped of his Olympic medals after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs at the 1998 Tour de France.
O’Grady, who retired this week, told a newspaper on Wednesday that he had used the banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO) before the notorious 1998 race.
The admission came after a French Senate inquiry named him among riders with “suspicious” test results in a damning report.
A successful Olympic track cyclist, O’Grady won a madison gold at the 2004 Athens Games, following a team pursuit silver at the 1992 Barcelona Games and a pair of bronzes at Atlanta in 1996.
“It’s sad,” Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) spokesman Mike Tancred told reporters yesterday. “He won’t be remembered as a fantastic competitor that we all thought he was.”
“In regard to his medals, it’s a matter for the international federation, so the UCI [International Cycling Union] will consider the medals and they will then make some recommendation to the IOC [International Olympic Commission],” he added.
The committee had already called on O’Grady to step down from its Athletes’ Commission.
O’Grady, one of Australia’s most celebrated cyclists, could also stand to lose his three national citations, which include an Order of Australia Medal awarded in 2005.
The French Senate inquiry found the top three finishers at the 1998 tour — Italian Marco Pantani, Germany’s Jan Ullrich and American Bobby Julich — were among 18 riders who tested positive for EPO.
O’Grady was among 12 riders whose tests were said to be “suspicious” and the 39-year-old did not waste time confirming he had used EPO to the Adelaide Advertiser, insisting he had sourced it alone.
He announced his retirement on Tuesday after helping his Orica GreenEdge team to a time trial victory in this year’s Tour in his 17th appearance, tying George Hincapie’s record. However, he had been expected to race this year and push for a record 18th Tour.
Orica GreenEdge were rocked by doping revelations last year involving sports director and former cyclist Matt White, who was implicated in the US Anti-Doping Agency’s dossier on Lance Armstrong.