American confesses to using banned substances under Sky's new anti-doping policy
Bobby Julich, widely believed to be one of 22 names redacted in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s Lance Armstrong case file, has confessed to using banned performance enhancers and has resigned from Sky.
The British ProTeam announced last week that it would require all riders and staff to sign a pledge stating that they had never engaged in doping practices.
“After the team reaffirmed its position on anti-doping last week, Bobby has disclosed having taken a banned substance in his past as a professional rider in the late 1990s,” read the team statement.
Julich has acted as a race coach for Sky since 2011, when he left his longtime post as technical advisor with Bjarne Riis at Saxo Bank.
“Bobby has shown courage in admitting to the errors he made long before his time with Team Sky. We understand that this is a difficult step for him and we’ve done our best to support him,” said Sky principle David Brailsford. “It’s important to emphasise that there have been no doubts about his work with us or his approach as a coach. He has done a good job and been a good colleague during his two years with us. Bobby has our best wishes for the future.
“We’ve made clear our commitment to being a clean team and been open about the steps we’re taking. Although it’s never easy to part, we believe this is the right thing to do.”
Julich is one of several former riders to lose their jobs since the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released 1,000 pages in documents from its investigation into the U.S. Postal Service doping conspiracy.
On October 13, former Postal Service rider Matt White stepped down from his position with Orica-GreenEdge, admitting to having doped during his career. Cycling Australia subsequently relieved White of his job as national team director, while Orica has yet to issue a final decision on its top sports director.
Hours before White stepped down, RadioShack-Nissan manager Johan Bruyneel parted ways with the squad in the wake of the USADA investigation. Bruyneel faces arbitration with USADA in the case next month.
Since USADA published its Armstrong case file on October 10, Julich was widely speculated to be the redacted “Rider 4” mentioned in Jörg Jaksche’s affidavit as having received cortisone from a CSC team doctor in 2004.
In a statement posted Thursday on Cyclingnews.com, Julich wrote, “My return to the top level of the sport coincided with signing at Team CSC in 2004 and I want to briefly explain my side of the story. I know that much has been said about what allegedly happened there and about the man that is the figurehead of that team. I am not going to defend him as a person but rather as an organization and what it did for me personally. This organization gave me two things that no illegal substance could ever truly provide. It gave me back my self-respect and my self-confidence. That was all that I needed to perform at the highest level. This was my personal experience. At no time was I offered, or did I receive, any sort of blood manipulation, nor did I witness any systematic doping within the team. I found that I could compete without it and my results during that period were achieved clean.”
Julich lived with George Hincapie, Kevin Livingston and Frankie Andreu in Como, Italy, in 1995 and 1996, when all four rode for Motorola. Hincapie and Andreu have admitted to having doped during their racing careers. Livingston’s name is another widely believed to be redacted in the USADA file, but he has not responded to attempts to contact him in recent weeks.
“I made the decision to use EPO several times from August 1996 until July of 1998,” Julich wrote. “Those days were very different from today, but it was not a decision that I reached easily. I knew that it was wrong, but over those two years, the attitude surrounding the use of EPO in the peloton was so casual and accepted that I personally lost perspective of the gravity of the situation.”
In his statement, Julich contends that he joined Sky’s staff in 2011 because it was a clean team. He also apologizes for his doping past, saying, “I know I cannot change my past, however, I do wish to remain in the sport of cycling in some capacity. I love it with all my heart and I hope that even though I made some poor decisions a long time ago, that I can continue to help contribute to the positive changes in this sport. I believe that it is a sport worth saving.”
Riding for Cofidis, Julich was third in the 1998 Tour de France behind the late Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich, both of whom have served doping suspensions.
Neal Rogers contributed to this report.