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David Millar knows he’ll likely never get another shot at the Olympics, but he’s hoping to gain a redemption gold medal riding for his native Scotland in Wednesday’s individual time trial at the Commonwealth Games.
Millar served a two-year ban for admitting to doping during his go-go days at Cofidis, a confession that cost him any chance of Olympic glory due to strict rules that forbid dopers from representing Great Britain in the Olympic Games.
That ban does not extend to the Commonwealth Games, and the reformed Millar is hoping for a gold medal when he lines up as the favorite in Wednesday’s 40km race against the clock.
“I hope to win,” Millar said after inspecting the out-and-back 40km course Tuesday. “I have great form right now. I feel like I am ready to race the Tour de France. I’m really enjoying India. It’s been great to race with the Scottish team. I really raced with passion on Sunday.”
Millar sounded defiant as he met with reporters ahead of Sunday’s road race, when he finished on the podium with third in a hard-fought race that saw Allan Davis win for Australia.
Rather than challenge his Olympic ban, Millar has accepted it and instead focused on his professional career. He said the legal battle would be too much of a distraction.
“I could fight it but I am not going to. It’s just one of those things, and it makes me appreciate this all the more for it,” he continued. “I’ve fought enough battles the past few years. And I’ve weighed the cons and pros of it. For me, the pros are outweighed by the negative energy it would involve. And it doesn’t mean that much to me. If they don’t want me, it’s their loss, because in many ways I could have been a huge benefit to their team. So let’s see how they perform at the Olympics.”
Millar remains outspoken about the doping culture that he says remains in cycling, but at a smaller level than ever in the sport’s history. He insists the sport has made fundamental changes despite the seemingly endless string of doping scandals that continue to plague the sport.
“It’s been a pretty dark history. Our sport was a doping sport and I like to think we now have a massive anti-doping culture. We’ve worked very hard to fight it, but unfortunately the story around pro cycling is always anti-doping,” Millar said. “Ten years ago in cycling it was nigh on impossible to do that because you were competing against a majority who were doping but now you have no excuses. You can’t say ‘oh the other guys are doing it’ because most aren’t.
“Cycling has changed infinitely in the last four or five years. It’s in constant progression. We’re at a point now where it’s never been cleaner in the history of professional cycling,” he continued. “That doesn’t mean it’s absolutely clean, but it’s cleaner. And look at guys like Mark (Cavendish), who are phenomenal — they are a new generation of clean cyclists.”
Millar, 33, said he’s enjoying racing now more than ever and hints he might still be around when the Commonwealth Games are held again in 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
“As long as I keep my motivation. The thing about being an endurance athlete, especially a cyclist, is they keep ticking at their best until their mid- to late 30s,” he said. “Normally, it’s our heads that let us go first. So as long as my head stays healthy, and I’m motivated, I can keep going another four or five years.”