Former US rider Bobby Julich admitted to doping during the late 1990s when he finished third in the Tour de France, a confession that forced him to leave his position as race coach of Team Sky on Thursday.
The British team asked staff and riders last week to confirm they had no past links to doping as the sport tries to clean up in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal.
Julich, who was a teammate of Armstrong’s at Motorola and Cofidis between 1995 and 1997, came clean last week.
In a letter posted on the Cycling News Web site, Julich said he used EPO “several times” between August 1996 and July 1998. He said his wife discovered his doping during the 1998 Tour de France when he finished a career-high third.
“Those days were very different from today, but it was not a decision that I reached easily,” Julich said. “I knew that it was wrong, but over those two years, the attitude surrounding the use of EPO in the peloton was so casual and accepted that I personally lost perspective of the gravity of the situation.”
Julich said he was not doping at the time of his third-place in the time trial at the 2004 Athens Olympics. In August, the IOC upgraded him from bronze to silver when US teammate Tyler Hamilton was stripped of his gold after admitting to doping.
“There were times that I was tempted to return to the dark side, but after some difficult years, I stopped thinking about what others were doing and focused on my own performance and enjoyment in the sport,” Julich said.
“Most importantly, I proved to myself that it is possible to compete clean and I came back with solid, clean results that I am extremely proud of,” he added.
Julich is the latest cyclist to admit to doping as the sport comes to terms with the US Anti-Doping Agency report that led to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in what it called the biggest drug scandal in sports.
Julich is leaving his job at Team Sky after two seasons.
“Bobby has shown courage in admitting to the errors he made long before his time with Team Sky,” team leader Dave Brailsford said. “We understand that this is a difficult step for him and we’ve done our best to support him,” Brailsford said.