Cycling was a refuge for me. Long, hard training rides were cathartic and provided an escape from the difficult home life associated with a parent with an addiction. My father had a long history of substance use and addiction. Seeing what happened to my father from his substance abuse, I vowed never to take drugs. I viewed cycling as a healthy and wholesome outlet that would keep me far away from a world I abhorred.
In 1996, soon after joining a local cycling club and winning a state championship, I qualified to participate in training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. After winning the GP Des Nation under 23 category in 2000, I was invited onto a pro-level team. Ironically, the sport I had turned to for escaping drugs turned out to be rampant with doping. I chose not to focus on that. I was young, everyone was telling me I had a great future – and I knew I could do it clean. From the beginning, I always had.
After distinguishing myself in an important race, management presented me with drugs and instructed me on how to proceed. I was devastated. I was shocked. I had never used drugs and never intended to. I questioned, I resisted, but in the end, I felt cornered and succumbed to the pressure. After one week I stopped. I subsequently succumbed in less than a handful of confined instances never making it a systematic part of my training practices or race routines. But it happened and I couldn’t be sorrier. It was a violation – a violation not only of the code I was subject to, but my personal and moral compass that I had set out to follow. I accept full responsibility and was happy to come forward and tell USADA my whole story; I want to do my share to help bring this entire issue to the fore and ensure a safe, healthy, and clean future for cycling.
I returned to being 100% clean long before the Anti-Doping Commitment was issued for riders to sign in 2007. I was one of the first to sign. I embraced complete transparency. When Slipstream surfaced I was eager to join for all that it stands for and its unwavering commitment to clean cycling. I only wish a team like this had existed when I was a neo pro. Cycling started out as a refuge for me and I want to play my part in making it the sport I had always hoped it would be and know that it can be.