Gutted. No other way to describe my reaction to the news overnight that Stuart O’Grady has admitted using EPO before the 1998 Tour de France.
Rather than a blaze of Tour glory, like so many before him his legacy is now shrouded with shame.
The writing was on the wall yesterday afternoon and has now been confirmed. Just like the cheating Texan, the golden haired boy (perhaps appropriately bald these days) of Aussie cycling for so long has been lying to us for 15 years. That’s what rankles the most. Not that he did it, lots did it. But, despite being filled with regret and remorse this morning, that he lied about it for as long as he thought he could get away with it. Which turned out to be pretty much an entire career. He deceived us all, and for all intents and purposes he got away with it. He made his name. He made his millions. He wore winners’ jerseys. He stood on podiums with medals around his neck. Heck, he even kissed a paver. All the while with a dark little secret like so many of his peers.
As for never touching the stuff again as he assured the world in his confession, can we really honestly believe him? Or is it just that, as of right now, nothing has emerged that could pin him to more doping violations? I hope he’s telling the truth. I really do. But how can anyone be certain? Time will tell.
I can’t believe I’m writing these words. Just 48 hours after paying glowing tribute to the stellar and untainted career of a rider I’ve always admired so much. Like I said at the start, gutted.
Begs the question, who’ll be the next green (and gold) bottle to fall?