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Geneviève Jeanson admits to doping

Former junior world champion Geneviève Jeanson admitted to doping during her career in an interview with Radio-Canada’s news magazine "Enquête."

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In the first part of an investigative report on the Radio-Canada television show Enquête, Geneviève Jeanson provided extensive details about using EPO during her career. Read part two here. Below is a summary of the interview.

Former junior world champion Geneviève Jeanson admitted to doping during her career in an interview with Radio-Canada’s news magazine “Enquête”on Thursday.

In the first of a two-part interview, Jeanson spoke candidly about usingEPO from the age of 16, a decision she says was the result of pressure by her former coach and husband Andre Aubut. Aubut denied the charge, according to the program’s producers.

Jeanson, who now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, took a defiant attitude during much of the questioning, although she broke into tears once when talking about lying to her fans.

Below is a summary of the interview.

Geneviève Jeanson told journalist Alain Gravel that she used EPO at races such as the Montreal World Cup on Mont-Royal, a race she won four times in her career, and prior to the 2003 World Championships in Hamilton.

For the majority of the interview, Jeanson adamantly denied using the drug or taking transfusions, arguing that her career success was based solely on training, vitamins and the use of a hypoxic tent nearly 300 days per year.

It was only near the end of Thursday’s program, after a series of interviews with Gravel, that Jeanson finally admitted to using the banned performance-enhancing  drug.

The admission underscores old allegations that  EPO was responsible for spiking her hematocrit level to 56 percent – well over the 47 percent limit allowed for female cyclists – prior to the 2003 World Cycling Championships in Hamilton. Because of the elevated level, she was excluded from the race.

For a cyclist who took EPO her entire career, Jeanson only officially failed one doping test, at the Tour de ‘Toona in 2005. During her interview, she explained that by stopping EPO five days before an event, a positive test could easily be avoided. Up until now, Jeanson has always maintained that the result at the Tour de ‘Toona was a false positive and not the result of having used performance-enhancing drugs.

Jeanson was given a second “positive” after missing a post-race test at Flèche Wallonne in 2004. As a result, Jeanson was eligible for a life-time ban, although the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency eventually agreed to a two-year suspension after she dropped plans for an appeal. She has not returned to competition, despite the expiration of that penalty.

Jeanson says her first experience with EPO came in 2003, with a dose administered by Dr. Maurice Duquette. After that world championship incident, Duquette admitted to having given Jeanson just one dose of EPO, but was later forced to retract his statement after Jeanson’s lawyers threatened to sue.

Jeanson admitted that she knew exactly what she was taking and knew that EPO was both risky and ethically wrong, but said she felt trapped by a desire not to disappoint anyone, especially her coach, André Aubut. The hardest part, she said, was lying to the people who believed in her.

According to Jeanson, Aubut told her that taking EPO was the “only way”she would ever win, something Jeanson still believes is necessary in the sport of professional cycling.

Aubut’s version of the story, much like Jeanson’s, has changed overtime. At first he admitted to having told Jeanson to take EPO, but then recanted, saying it was a decision they made together. By the end, however, Aubut claimed he didn’t even know Jeanson was using EPO and thought her high hematocrit levels were simply the result of the hypoxic tent she’d slept in nearly year round.

Married last year for just six months as a business arrangement for the restaurant they own together in Phoenix (Jeanson has since sold the restaurant), the nature of Jeanson and Aubut’s relationship was often the subject of speculation. Jeanson’s father said that he refused to watch his daughter train under Aubut’s tutelage, fearing he would see her being treated badly.

Although Jeanson said she was responsible for telling Aubut to push her as hard as possible in training, she claimed that Aubut eventually became violent and aggressive in the way he spoke to her. Her performances were never good enough. Jeanson said she was driven to win races, “just to shut him up.”

Former Rona teammate Amy Moore recounted an incident in which Aubut picked up Jeanson’s dinner plate and threw it across the room after being dissatisfied with the way Jeanson was eating. Moore also explained that when she looked at Jeanson, she didn’t see the young, blonde athlete, but rather only saw Aubut, a clear testament to the control and manipulation he had over her.

Another teammate, Manon Jutras, said that it was just part of Aubut’s personality, that he just wanted to win and it was in his blood. She said he was like a passionate hockey coach behind the bench. However, Jutras’ account stands in contrast to the stories of Aubut throwing a race radio at Jeanson after a competition and an unconfirmed claim that he once physically hit her.

The program hinted, but never directly claimed, that Aubut was responsible for administering the drug or forcing Jeanson to use EPO. His role in her life, though briefly touched upon in the interview, remains foggy. While Jeanson explained her method of stopping the drug five days before competition to avoid getting caught, questions still surround how she passed a large number of doping tests in her career.

Program producers promise to address those questions in next week’s episode of Enquête.