Montreal – Canadian rider Michael Barry, one of six former Lance Armstrong teammates suspended this week, said Saturday he was relieved at no longer having to live a lie over the doping scandal.
Barry, who rode more recently for Team Sky, told AFP from his home in Spain that the sport must now try to move on from the scandal and overcome the pressures that bred the drug-taking culture that have plunged it into crisis.
“I feel relieved, because I was living a lie. I've done things I'm not proud of and which I regret,” said Barry, whose six-month ban from the US anti-doping authority will have no effect, given that he retired from the sport last month.
The 36-year-old, who was previously a support rider for Armstrong's US Postal Service team, said performance-enhancing drugs were rampant among the top cyclists when he first rose to professional ranks, and he was swept along.
“I was part of a generation that dreamed of going professional, but what I saw when I got to that level was far from” the imagined picture, Barry said.
“I don't want a young (cyclist) to have to live what I did,” he added.
The road racer said he never actually saw Armstrong – who denies ever taking banned substances – doping: “I've heard stories about him, but I never saw anything. I don't know what he did.”
But Barry said he felt it was important to speak out, even if others do not.
“Are others going to come forward in the coming weeks? I don't know. Whatever happens, let's look to the future, let's change this culture.”
The newly retired racer said that Team Sky, the British pro squad he rode with from 2010 until last month, shows it's possible. The team is ranked first on the WorldTour.
Barry added he hopes to contribute to changing the sport to lessen the pressure on would-be champions.
“We need to look at the calendar” set by the International Cycling Union (UCI), “which leaves very little time to rest,” he said.
Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France victories after a long investigation by the Usada, which accuses him of being at the heart of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program” ever seen in sport.
His five other former teammates now suspended are Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, Tom Danielson and George Hincapie. – Sapa-AFP