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October 11, 2012

PED'S IN OTHER SPORTS: A LEADING CYCLIST ADMITS GUILT
By Scott Shaffer

George Hincapie is world class bicyclist who retired two months ago. He was Lance Armstrong's teammate for all seven of Armstrong's Tour De France victories and an extremely decorated competitor in his own right. The taint of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), however, has  tarnished Hincapie's sport far worse than boxing has been. Yesterday, as part of the ongoing campaign against Armstrong, Hincapie admitted to cheating over the majority of his pro career, which spanned 1994-2012. Hincapie also told the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that Armstrong used a PED called EPO as early as 1998. Armstrong strongly denies all allegations of cheating, but unlike some of the other witnesses against Armstrong, Hincapie was not previously confirmed as a cheater until this week's revelation. According to USADA, Hincapie and Armstrong shared the same doctor who was the source of the PEDs.  

Hincapie posted his admission about his own PED to his website on October 10th. He says he voluntarily stopped cheating in 2006 and competed clean through his recent retirement. While this scandal has no direct connection to boxing, the developing story of Armstrong and Hincapie, and Hincapie's claim that PEDs were prevalent in his sport, is a thought-provoking read for boxing fans, particularly in a year when boxing stars such as Antonio Tarver, Lamont Peterson, Andre Berto and others have been caught cheating.

Here is what Hincapie had to say:

GEORGE HINCAPIE STATEMENT:

For over 30 years I have dedicated my life to cycling. I have always been determined to compete at the highest level, in one of the most physically demanding sports. With hard work and success have come great blessings from the sport I love.

Teammates have become dear friends and I have worked hard to earn the respect of my competitors. I have been associated with managers and team officials whose professionalism is unparalleled. Wonderful fans have supported my family and me since I began this great journey. For all of this and more, I am truly grateful and proud.

Because of my love for the sport, the contributions I feel I have made to it, and the amount the sport of cycling has given to me over the years, it is extremely difficult today to acknowledge that during a part of my career I used banned substances. Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them. I deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologize to my family, teammates and fans.

Quietly, and in the way I know best, I have been trying to rectify that decision. I have competed clean and have not used any performance enhancing drugs or processes for the past six years. Since 2006, I have been working hard within the sport of cycling to rid it of banned substances. During this time, I continued to successfully compete at the highest level of cycling while mentoring young professional riders on the right choices to make to ensure that the culture of cycling had changed.

About two years ago, I was approached by US Federal investigators, and more recently by USADA, and asked to tell of my personal experience in these matters. I would have been much more comfortable talking only about myself, but understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything I knew. So that is what I did.

Cycling has made remarkable gains over the past several years and can serve as a good example for other sports. Thankfully, the use of performance enhancing drugs is no longer embedded in the culture of our sport, and younger riders are not faced with the same choice we had.

I am proud to be part of the cycling community, and believe we continue to make positive changes to our sport. I applaud the extraordinary achievements of my fellow riders on and off the bike. Cycling is an incredible sport that not only requires unbelievable physical ability to ride hundreds of miles a day for many days on end; it also requires a certain type of dedication, ambition and character. I have been fortunate to compete with teammates whose commitment and talent will be hard to match. As a rider I have dedicated a large part of my career to helping those teammates succeed. As I begin the next chapter in my cycling life, I look forward to playing a significant part in developing, encouraging and helping young riders to compete and win with the best in the world.








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