Former Tour de France winner Riis admits to doping


Copenhagen : Denmark's former cyclist Bjarne Riis ended months of speculation Friday when he conceded that he had used EPO blood doping in his 1996 Tour de France win.

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Riis made the announcement that he took erythropoietin (EPO), a synthetic hormone that stimulates the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, at a news conference in Copenhagen.

"I doped. I took EPO," said Riis.

The admission came a day after two former teammates from Germany's Team Telekom – Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag – made similar confessions.

The floodgates opened on Monday when Bert Dietz was the first former rider to admit to EPO doping at the team and was followed by Christian Henn and Udo Boelts.

Boelts resigned late Thursday from his post as sporting director with his present team Gerolsteiner.

Aldag offered to resign from his post as sports manager at T-Mobile but team boss Bob Stapleton said he decided to keep him on the job because he now stood for clean sport and other riders wanted him to stay.

Another Dane Brian Holm, who was also a former member of Telekom, confirmed in an interview published Thursday that he had taken EPO.

Earlier this year, former team masseur Jef d'Hont said in a book that two doctors gave EPO to some of the team's top riders, including Riis and 1997 Tour winner Jan Ullrich.

Riis, who rode for Telekom from 1996 to 1999 before retiring in 2000 due to a knee injury, had previously always rejected allegations of doping but apparently decided to come clean in the wake of the other admissions.

The confession was likely to tarnish his image, but politicians in his home town Herning earlier Friday said they would not remove the plaque erected in his honour after he became the first Dane to win the Tour de France.