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Suspended for doping, Lemont’s Christian Vande Velde can resume cycling in spring

Christian Vande Velde is surrounded by medias he prepares for start Stage 5 Tour de France.| Getty Images

Christian Vande Velde is surrounded by the media as he prepares for the start of Stage 5 of the Tour de France.| Getty Images

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Updated: November 13, 2012 6:26AM



Lemont native and Tour de France veteran Christian Vande Velde will be eligible to return to professional cycling in the spring.

In the meantime, he’ll be seeking to restore his reputation as a world-class competitor.

Coinciding with the release of a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report Wednesday linking seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong to use of performance-enhancing drugs, Vande Velde released a statement on his website admitting that he used doping products while a teammate on Armstrong’s U.S. Postal riding squad.

Vande Velde, 36, who along with 11 other Armstrong teammates testified to having used performance enhancement drugs, was banned by USA Cycling from competition for six months, retroactive to Sept. 1. He could have received a two-year suspension, but was given a reduced penalty for cooperating with the USADA investigation.

Vande Veldt, who has never had a comfirmed positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, apologized publicly on his website on a day that he described as “the most humbling of my life.”

“As a young pro rider I competed drug free, not winning but holding my own and achieving decent results. Then, one day, I was presented with a choice that to me, at the time, seemed like the only way to continue to follow my dream at the highest level of the sport. I gave in and crossed the line, a decision that I deeply regret. I was wrong to think I didn’t had a choice — the fact is that I did, and I chose wrong. I won races before doping and after doping. Ironically, I never won while doping, I was more or less just treading water. This does not make it OK. I saw the line and I crossed it, myself. I am deeply sorry for the decisions I made in the past — to my family, my fans, my peers, to the sport that I love and those in and out of it — I’m sorry. I always will be.”

In the affidavit, Vande Velde admitted that he began doping in 1999 by taking testosterone and continued to use performance-enhancing drugs until 2006. He left the U.S. Postal team after the 2003 season. He finished fourth in the Tour de France in 2008 and eighth in 2009. He currently rides for Slipstream Sports and claims to have been dope-free since 2006.

“I decided to change what I was doing and started racing clean again well before Slipstream, but I chose to come to Slipstream because I believed in its unbending mission of clean sport,” Vande Velde said on his website. “Today, I am proud of the steps that I and cycling have made to improve the future of the sport that I love so much. I am proud to be a part of an organization that implemented a no-needle policy. I am proud that I published my blood values for all of the world to see after almost reaching the podium at the 2008 Tour de France; showing first and foremost myself that it was possible to and then, confirming it for the rest of the world. I continue to be proud of the strides the sport has taken to clean itself up, and the actions our organization has taken to help shape the sport that I love.

“We’re in a good place now, young riders of the new generation have not had to face the choices that I did, and this needs to continue. By looking at the mistakes of cycling’s history, we have an opportunity to continue to shape its future.

I’m very sorry for the mistakes I made in my past and I know that forgiveness is a lot to ask for. I know that I have to earn it and I will try, every day, to deserve it — as I have, every day, since making the choice to compete clean. I will never give up on this sport, and I will never stop fighting for its future.”



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