ANNONAY, France (Reuters) - David Millar, who returned to cycling seven years ago after a two-year doping ban, urged the media on Friday to keep referring to him as an ex-doper after winning the 12th stage of the Tour de France.
“Don’t stop calling me an ex-doper,” the Scot said after he had crossed the line at the end of a 226 kms ride featuring two demanding climbs.
Millar, 35, who joined the Garmin team in 2008, has become an anti-doping advocate. Last year his book “Racing Through the Dark”, in which he gives a full account of his doping years, was published.
”We are proud of what we do, we came with a mission to change the sport to prove people it could be done differently,“ Millar told a news conference. ”We profess that we are clean and I‘m incredibly proud of my team.
”The reason I was given a second chance is that I have a duty to not forget where the sport comes from.
“I‘m representative of our sport as a whole. We should not forget the past.”
The past featured a first Tour win in 2000 when he beat Lance Armstrong in the prologue, followed by years of doping punctuated by two other victories on the world’s greatest race.
“I made mistakes. I am an ex-doper and now I am clean,” he said. “I want people to have trust in our sport. Cycling has changed a great deal, I want people to understand that.”
Millar’s win came 45 years to the day after fellow Briton Tom Simpson died on the slopes of the Mont Ventoux on the Tour de France after taking amphetamines.
“Today is the 45th anniversary of his death and it makes it a poignant win for me,” said Millar.
His victory drew compliments from compatriot and yellow jersey holder Bradley Wiggins, with whom he has had a sometimes complicated relationship.
In a column in The Guardian on Friday, Wiggins explained that in Britain, an ex-doper like France’s Richard Virenque could not come back and be hailed as a hero.
“I think Dave is one of the very few exceptions to that rule because of what he stands for since he came back,” Wiggins told a news conference.
“He has been very proactive in working with UK Anti-Doping. I think Dave is trying to help the future of his sport.”
Both riders were selected to represent Britain in the Olympics road race, with Millar being picked after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned the British Olympic Association’s lifetime Olympic ban on drug offenders.
Editing by John Mehaffey