Thursday's Eurofile: Millar: Reform begins with management; Ventoux on tap in June By Andrew Hood VeloNews European correspondent This report filed March 29, 2007
David Millar says the only way to rid doping from cycling will be if the major teams and sponsors drive change from within the sport.
Millar - seen here in the yellow jersey at Paris-Nice - says that doping reform will only happen if teams get serious.
photo: Agence France Presse (file photo) "To me, the buck stops at team management. They can't just go around and blame it on the riders," Millar told VeloNews. "They should know what's going on, they should sign the right kind of riders. [It won't stop] until the teams and the sponsors take responsibility."
Millar, 30, returned to competition before last year's Tour de France after serving a two-year ban for admitting to using the banned blood booster EPO. He's since become an outspoken proponent of clean sport and called for stricter doping controls.
The Saunier Duval-Prodir rider said it's up to sponsors and team management to put a stop to the pressure piled on riders to secure results at any cost. He said some teams are already taking the necessary steps.
"Look what T-Mobile is doing, the team management is making a decision and you can make a difference," he continued. "You screen the riders properly when you sign them onto the team. You be very vigilant in regards of what's going on with their medical situation. You have to stay on top of it. It's more work, but that's what you have to do to. That's the only way it's going to change; sponsors and teams making decisions. The race organizers aren't going to do it, obviously not the UCI, though they're doing everything they can. [The riders] want the sport cleaned up."
Cycling has taken more than its fair share of lumps recently following a string of doping scandals, including the positive test by 2006 Tour winner Floyd Landis and the Operaciˇn Puerto doping investigation in Spain last year.
Speaking with VeloNews earlier this year, Millar said the 2007 season is critical if the sport hopes to recover its standing among fans and media.
"Let's be honest, cycling has no credibility whatsoever," he said. "Whoever says otherwise is either na´ve or just ignoring the situation. We have to sort it out."
Millar - who lost his 2003 world time trial championship crown as part of his sanction - hasn't shied away from speaking openly about doping since his return to competition.
"Journalists know the story they're going to get from me. They tend to come to me when there are some doping stories because I have something to say about it," he said. "No doubt we haven't heard the end of all doping stories. It's a fundamental problem in our sport. It's not going away. I don't know if it will go away in the near future."