MICHAEL BARRY on doping and coming clean

In the autumn of 2001, my lifelong goal was achieved: I signed a contract with a European-based professional cycling team, U.S. Postal Service. In just a few seasons, U.S. Postal had become the dominant team in the world and I felt honoured to have a spot on its roster. At the first training camp, I was nervous and excited about 2002. I had realized a dream, but as with anything new, the unknowns not only frightened me but also animated me. I soon discovered top-level racing wasn't what I had expected.

During my first season in Europe, I saw the darkness that was behind the façade of professional cycling I had seen on television and in magazines. It was a ruthless world in which riders spoke in hushed voices and performances were suspicious. The peloton moved dauntingly fast.

I performed well on occasions, but by the end of the 2002 season, I was hanging on by a thread. Cycling was a tough job, but it was still one I wanted to pursue despite my fears. By the spring of 2003, my morale was broken. Encouraged by my team, influenced by my peers and pressured to perform, I began using drugs. It was an inexcusable decision I deeply regret.

While I was doping, my passion for riding and racing faded. I felt guilty, was paranoid and hid behind lies and deception. In 2006, I hit my lowest period while lying on a stretcher in a small hospital in France. While recovering and training at home, I decided I needed to change my life. From that summer on, I never doped again and signed on with teams that had strong anti-doping policies. I wrote and spoke about the need for change. But I wrongly remained silent about my past. The lies haunted me. I apologize and will work hard to regain people's trust.

Cycling is a much better place today. Through my generation's admissions, the sport will move forward. Although there are many teams that are committed to clean cycling, and I know from experience that riders and a team can win at the highest level without drugs, there is still work to be done.

Nobody should ever to face the decisions my generation did to purse the sport he or she loves. Sport should be a nurturing environment in which health is the priority. Everybody involved should be held accountable to ensure the culture considers the athlete's best interests and health before the team's or the sport's.

By racing clean, I found my passion for the sport returned. Training in the countryside with teammates and friends no longer felt like a chore. Being on my bike was again something I Loved. –Michael Barry

SOURCE: Canadian Cycling, December & January 2013

Web Master: Fernando Gonçalves             |          Hosting: EZP.net          |              Site Map