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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Cycling News Extra for February 16, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson

Bergman admits EPO use

Adam Bergman
Photo: © Ronald LeBlanc
Click for larger image

Suspended US rider Adam Bergman has admitted using EPO. On April 6, 2004, then-23-year-old Bergman returned a positive result for recombinant human Erythropoietin (rEPO) in an out-of-competition test. He subsequently finished 11th in the Tour de Georgia, before the test result was known, and was subsequently sacked from his team at the time, Jelly Belly.

In July 2004, Bergman accepted a two-year suspension from USADA but did not admit using rEPO. He has now conceded that the test result was correct and he did use the drug, which improves the body's ability to carry oxygen in the blood by stimulating the production of red blood cells, at the risk of death by heart attack because the blood becomes too thick.

Late in the afternoon of February 15, 2006, Bergman issued the following statement.

Almost two years ago, I tested positive for EPO. Until now, I have not been a strong enough person to admit to taking EPO. I never denied the charges, but I hid behind the fact that the test results were not entirely clear, and I hoped that I might be able to get off on a technicality.

It is time to tell the truth. I did it. I experimented with the drug EPO when I was preparing for the Tour de Georgia. This admission has been a long time in coming, and I should have done it a lot sooner. It seemed easier to say the test is bad or blame it on someone else's error than to admit the truth. I made a big mistake when I tried EPO, and I made matters even worse by not having the courage to admit that mistake. My family raised me to be a better person then that.

Being honest at this point can't change what I did. If some other young cyclist is facing difficult personal problems or hardships, however, I hope that my experience might help them deal with life's challenges in a better way. I'm not going to elaborate on the personal difficulties I was going through, because at the end of the day they are just excuses. No excuse justifies what I did. If someday someone else is struggling with problems and is tempted to take the easy way out by cheating my plea to you is don't do it. Even if you're luckier than I was and don't get caught, and even if you think it will help you get through a tough time, its not worth it. You have to deal with your conscience the rest of your life.

I know I can never fully restore my good name, and maybe that's how it should be. I knew the consequences were real and I have to take full responsibility for my actions. What is so sad for me personally is that beyond the damage to my personal reputation, cycling is the sport I love and I only added damage to its reputation.

If anything good comes of this experience, maybe it can show others that drugs have absolutely no positive outcomes. What I did not only ruined my career and personal life in every single aspect but I hurt a lot of other people. My selfish act tarnished the reputation of my sponsors, teammates and manager. I know its too late, but I apologize to them personally. This has been a hard lesson for me, but its one I deserved, and one I would never wish on anyone. I am in my second and final year of suspension (as well as continuing with USADA's out of competition testing program) and am looking forward to competing again, clean, in the sport I love. Though it maybe hard, I hope that one day people can forgive me for what I have done. I don't ask anyone to forget because I know I never will myself.

Adam Bergman

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