Prentice Steffen's retraction and apology
October 8, 2005
My name is Prentice Steffen. I have prepared this statement to apologize and clarify quotes made by me published in a recent edition of L'Equipe, and published elsewhere in other press outlets.
First, I would like to sincerely apologize for the statements that were recently attributed to me in L'Equipe. I am very sorry about personal comments I made about Lance Armstrong and other athletes. It was inappropriate for me to suggest that "the bad guys, like Armstrong, dope, and the good guys, like Hamilton, dope too." I do not know Lance Armstrong personally and have I never witnessed him taking banned substances. I based my assumptions about Mr. Armstrong on rumours I had heard, instead of on anything remotely factual and I want to issue this public retraction of comments.
Second, my intentions in participating in the L'Equipe interview were not to impugn anyone's character. I understood the purpose of the interview to be a discussion of the great strides being made by anti-doping agencies around the globe and the opportunity to improve testing for banned substances. As a Board Certified Emergency Room and Sports Medicine physician, I feel it is my duty to help USADA, WADA, and the UCI when I see a potential problem with testing protocols or methods. Unfortunately, the L'Equipe article overshadowed these issues and focused, instead, on my comments relating to specific athletes.
Third, it is true that some athletes in the professional peloton, accused of doping, have willingly confessed that it is prevalent in the professional cycling. Just as many athletes, however, have done exceedingly well in the sport and have never been implicated in any way. It is an unfair assertion that the only way to achieve success in cycling is through doping. Many other factors such as hard work, dedication, and natural ability play crucial roles in any athlete's success.
Fourth, I am extremely sorry for any negative impact my comments may have had on Team TIAA-CREF, its sponsors, or staff. My personal comments were not intended to reflect their views. My comments were not approved by Team TIAA-CREF, its sponsors, or staff. I am gravely sorry that Team TIAA-CREF was even mentioned in association with my personal comments.
Team TIAA-CREF was founded on the belief that cyclists can compete at the highest levels without resorting to doping. The team is strongly committed this mission. Every athlete, sponsor, and staff member of the team is completely committed to a fervent anti-doping policy. The team has a very strict zero-tolerance policy for any kind of illegal drug use, cheating, or unethical behaviour.
These are not just values that the director, Jonathan Vaughters, stresses to athletes who race for him. These are also values shared by the athletes Jonathan has selected for the team. Jonathan's goal is to teach these athletes alternatives to doping, and how to avoid feeling backed into a corner by statements, like those made by me, suggesting doping is the only way to succeed in cycling. I do not believe that to be true, and that is why I have been happy to be associated with a team that shares my desire to see the use of performance-enhancing drugs eliminated from cycling. Team TIAA-CREF has made a total commitment to producing athletes that will make everyone affiliated with them proud. The team utilizes every ethical and legal method possible to increase athletes' performance. The team seeks to determine athletes' strengths and weaknesses in order to make adjustments in everything from diet to lifestyle and address any weaknesses. It was extremely unfair of me to say that these athletes have accepted that they will have to dope someday. None of our athletes accept this and are committed to achieving their success through hard work, knowledge of their bodies, and dedication to the sport. I sincerely apologize for any misrepresentation of their attitudes. My assertions have damped their spirits, and I hope they can see beyond my impetuous and ignorant statements.
I had my own struggle with substance abuse in my youth, almost 20 years ago. I was able to successfully conquer these issues. This fueled my desire to see that others avoid the pitfall into which I fell.
Since that time, I have served as team doctor for several professional cycling teams. I cherish these opportunities to positively influence future generations of cyclist and to, in my own way, do what I can to eliminate the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs from the sport.
However, I also feel I should permanently remove myself from the role of team physician at Team TIAA-CREF, as my comments have damaged and dampened the spirits of these young athletes
Please accept my sincere apology,
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)