PtG Article 27.11.2006

Danish professional cyclist tells all about his doping use in the 1990's

Former Danish cyclist Jesper Skibby has admitted to doping during his professional career in the 1990’s. The confession came in an autobiography published last week. Skibby wants to stop living on a lie and in the book he reveals all about his doping use but does not say who supplied the drugs and helped him avoid testing positive.

In the book, Skibby details how he started taking steroids in 1991, how he switched to EPO in 1993 and how he also used testosterone. The 42-year-old Dane retired six years ago and he is the only Danish rider to have won stages in the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Spanish Vuelta.

The truth about Skibby

For Skibby the impetus for making his doping use public was a personal need to come clean with his family and the public that has admired him during his career.

”I have lived in the public limelight for so long that the public deserves to know the truth,” he says and regrets lying to journalists when the Festina scandal exploded in 1998.

The truth about Skibby was that he spent close to 20,000 Euro annually on illegal doping and that he constantly monitored his hematocrit levels to avoid being caught out by controls. The truth about Skibby is also that at the time he saw doping as a legitimate means to stay in cycling:

”I did not regret or feel bad about what I had done. I did not think about moral and ethics. I was part of a tough profession and I used the means that I deemed necessary. It was that simple. My world was cycling, and if the sport disappeared out of my life, my world - everything I knew - would collapse and leave me empty-handed. Everything wold be gone,” Skibby writes in his book.

The book confirms suspicions

To the Danish public, Skibby’s confessions have not been shocking but served as confirmation of long held suspicions about doping and cycling. Some commentators have complained about Skibby’s decsion not to tell whether other cyclists used doping or who supplied him with the drugs, and they believe it limits the value of the book.

Others such as the Danish minister of sport, Brian Mikkelsen, have welcomed the book. Mikkelsen who is a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s executive committee says that Skibby’s book proves to him that cycling was riddled by doping abuse and deceit during the 1990’s and that it is necessary to continue the hard work to clean up cycling.

But Mikkelsen also believes that it would not have been possible for Skibby to pass all doping tests that are used today.

”We have strengthened the out-of-competition controls which Skibby said were easy to avoid. And the fact that Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis have been caught also shows that we are beginning to be one step ahead of the doping sinners,” Mikkelsen told the Danish newspaper, Ekstra Bladet.

The Danish minister of sport encourages other cyclists to come forward and admit to their doping use as a way of cleaning up the sport.