Millar, of course, has been one of the most outspoken riders on the doping issue since his comeback in 2006. He described his two-year ban as a personal liberation and insists that he and today’s peloton are racing clean. When asked about cycling’s continued perception problem, he said the peloton today is radically different than what it was a half-decade ago.
“The sport’s changed incredibly. The peloton believes Bradley Wiggins is clean. I trust him implicitly. And Ryder Hesjedal winning the Giro, which is perhaps physically the most demanding grand tour, that gives us confidence to the peloton,” he said. “The bottom line is now, you’re a young guy coming into the sport today, you can win the biggest races clean. That was something unimaginable even a few years ago. Credit to where credit is due.”
Millar insists that it’s not only the UCI and the peloton that must share responsibility, but also pointed toward the media and even the fans.
“I think we were all blinkered in certain ways. People talk about the omerta, but the media were as well. The fans were, too. We’re all to blame slightly for what happened,” he said. “It was an era in the sport when doping was prevalent. It’s something we all have to admit now. It’s not that we can just pretend it didn’t happen. We’re seeing now there are repercussions and that’s a good thing.”
Millar also said the enormity of the USADA case against Armstrong will act to further bury the ghosts of the sport’s past and help let it move forward with a new future.
“It could end up being the best thing for cycling. I really do believe that. It’s a positive in the long run,” Millar said. “We will no longer have these shadows lurking in the background and this confusion. I think we can all try to be on the same page now moving forward, which we would have never been without the USADA case.”
When asked later by VeloNews about the Armstrong case, Millar said he didn’t expect Armstrong to ever publicly admit to using banned substances. USADA handed Armstrong a lifetime ban in August when the Texan declined arbitration against the agency’s charges that he used, trafficked and distributed doping products between 1998 and 2010.
“It’s unfortunate for him. He’s too far in. Just the scale of him, the legal problems would be massive,” Millar said. “That’s sad, he’s a phenomenal athlete, no matter what happened. And now he has to live with this for the rest of his life without having it very clarified. That’s how the cookie crumbles, I suppose.”