Canada’s 2012 Tour of Italy champion Ryder Hesjedal has admitted to having taken performance-enhancing drugs 10 years ago after choosing ‘the wrong path’.
The 32-year-old — who turned professional in 2005 and has won stages on all three Grand Tours – released a statement through his Garmin team responding to claims that he took doping products made in former rider Michael Rasmussen’s autobiography, which was published on Wednesday.
Rasmussen, a serial doper who pulled out of the 2007 Tour de France while leading because he had missed several doping tests before the race, claimed that he had helped teach Hesjedal and two Canadian team-mates who were then competing in mountainbike racing to inject EPO in 2003.
Hesjedal held his hands up to the allegations but insisted that was in a different era and he was clean now.
“I have loved and lived this sport but more than a decade ago, I chose the wrong path,” said Hesjedal, who has ridden for Garmin since 2008.
“And even though those mistakes happened more than 10 years ago, and they were short-lived, it does not change the fact that I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since.
“To everyone in my life, inside and outside the sport – to those that have supported me and my dreams – including my friends, my family, the media, fans, my peers, sponsors – to riders who didn’t make the same choices as me all those years ago, I sincerely apologize for my part in the dark past of the sport. I will always be sorry,” added Hesjedal.
Rasmussen, who was King of the Mountains on the Tour de France in 2005 and 2006 but has since admitted he doped from 1998-2010, recounted in detail the visit of Hesjedal.
“It soon became evident that the three Canadian mountain bikers, Seamus McGrath, Chris Sheppard and Ryder Hesjedal, had seen the light,” he wrote.
“A good result in the World Cup could send them to the Olympics in Athens in 2004.
“They moved into my basement in August, before I went to the Vuelta a Espana, and right after I had done the Meisterschaft von Zurich. They stayed there for around two weeks.
“I trained with them in the Dolomites and taught them how to perform vitamin injections, and how to take EPO and Synacthen (cortisone).”