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MONTREAL (AFP) — Canadian 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 U.S. Postal Service doping scandal.
Barry, who rode more recently for Team Sky, told AFP from his home in Spain that the sport must 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 U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) 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, 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 doping, and the American has vociferously denied ever doing so.
“I’ve heard stories about him, but I never saw anything. I don’t know what he did,” said Barry.
Nevertheless, Barry added, 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,” he said.
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.
For starters, he said, “We need to look at the (UCI) calendar, which leaves very little time to rest.”