After 14 years of cover up, cyclist Bjarne Riis has admitted to using performance enhancers throughout his career. The Danish rider was the winner of the 1996 Tour de France. The list of drugs that Riis used to boost his riding performance includes cortison, a human growth hormone, and EPO, and he says he has no physical effects from taking any of the drugs. EPO is a hormone that boosts one’s red blood cell count to give the user more stamina. In the time that he admits to taking these drugs, between 1993 and 1998, there was no test to measure EPO. When a test was made available in 2000, riders were able to still pass the test by decreasing the amount of EPO taken or underwent blood transfusions to lift their red blood cell count.

While admitting to his wrongful actions does not make him any less guilty or any more admirable, one has to give him credit for doing the right thing. He says he is willing to give back his title and feels that he is not worthy of it, even if he is allowed to keep it. Of course, no one can accuse Riis of being the only athlete who has ever cheated in their particular sport. The top three finishers in the tour that Riis won have all been accused of doping. The Runner-up cyclist, Jan Ullrich denied using performance enhancers though he was implicated in the recent Spanish doping scandal. Third-lace rider Richard Virenque did confess to using performance enhancers after being kicked out of the 1998 Tour de France. Though he never admitted to taking drugs during the race, obviously, Riis like Virenque, wanted to have a clear conscious upon his retirement, despite the damage it would do to his 14-year career, especially in his homeland where he was a national hero. He is now working with a Danish cycling team who practices one of the most rigorous anti-doping programs in the sport.

Whether or not his title will be stripped or not is up to the UCI. With Riis’ new confession, it makes one wonder if another ex-Tour de France winner has something that he would like to confess as well.

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