Stuart O'Grady has indicated a willingness to divulge his full knowledge of doping before a commission soon to be established by cycling's world governing body.
Busy promoting a book that he was forced to amend after confessing to his long-guarded doping secret, the Australian Olympic gold medallist and recently retired road pro is elaborating on the extent of his use of banned blood booster erythropoeitin, and what he picked up in the peloton when banned drug use was rife.
Differentiating himself from serial dopers Lance Armstrong and Tyler Hamilton in an interview in Melbourne on Thursday, O'Grady said he was open to participating in an independent reform commission process being funded by the Union Cycliste Internationale, but he also tabled a commonly held frustration in the sport that cycling was an ''easy target'' paying the heaviest price for a problem he says is much more widespread.
''I think it is a good idea,'' O'Grady said of the UCI's proposed commission that would effectively give past dopers the chance to turn themselves in through an ordered process.
''But then the public has to stop. There has to be a line drawn in the sand. If people are going to come up and confess and there's going to be this truth and reconciliation, then they can't be crucified at the same time, otherwise they're just not going to come forward are they?
''I think most people realise … a lot of sports back in the '90s had probably massive doping issues. Cycling has been a bit of an easy target, because we have had some major crises, which is all fair enough. But I think we have to move on, otherwise it's just never going to stop. There's also been a lot of doping stories in athletics, in football codes and everything else. Pretty much every other sport in the world.''
O'Grady, who says he injected EPO five or six times over 10 or 12 days before the 1998 Tour de France, says he only confessed to his doping because he thought he would be outed in the findings of a French Senate investigation that was tabled at the end of last year's Tour. He retired immediately.
Asked in an ABC radio interview on Thursday whether he would have come clean had it not been for the French investigation findings - O'Grady had previously been adamant he had never doped or even had any knowledge of doping - he said: ''I wouldn't have said so at that time".
''I'm not sure, but I don't think I would have gone through my whole life without it coming out. I've been holding onto that - the guilt - for many years. And it's probably the reason I raced for so long, to kind of prove that you can race till you're 40 clean; that you can ride the Tour [de France] 16 times without it.''
O'Grady said he considered the way that Armstrong and Hamilton doped ''a lot more sophisticated, they had a medical team behind them. They were doing it almost using it like a game, beating the system''. Describing his use of EPO as something he did alone when ''our governing body [the UCI] wasn't hard enough'', O'Grady said he had learnt about it by opening his ears during races.