'Ex-doper' captures a victory in Tour

Published: Saturday, Jul. 14, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 7C
Last Modified: Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 - 9:04 am

ANNONAY, France – David Millar, a reformed "ex-doper," won a stage at the Tour de France on Friday, saying his victory is proof riders can win cleanly.

His British compatriot, Bradley Wiggins, is of like mind. Wiggins, who holds the overall lead, is looking to not only win the race when it ends July 22 but win over cycling fans troubled by the sport's long history with drugs.

"I do want to start building bridges to prove that I'm doing this off bread and water. … So if I can be as open and as honest as possible, then hopefully that will go some way to gaining people's trust," he said.

Millar's victory and Wiggins' assertions came exactly 45 years after Tom Simpson, the first Briton to wear yellow, died on the slopes of the Mont Ventoux after using a lethal mix of amphetamines and alcohol.

"It's particularly poignant that I win the day of this anniversary because I'm an ex-doper. I made mistakes," Millar said. "It's a nice kind of full circle that I've now won today a clean rider – after making the same mistakes that Tommy made."

Millar, who rides for the U.S. Garmin-Sharp team, has been cycling's most vocal critic of doping for years. The 35-year-old Scotsman says he learned hard lessons after "making a mess" of his life through drugs.

He won the Tour's 12th and longest stage Friday by leading a five-rider breakaway as the race left the Alps. The 140-mile ride from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay-Davezieux featured two big climbs but did not change the top of the standings because Wiggins and his main rivals finished together.

Wiggins, a three-time Olympic track gold medalist, is trying to become Britain's first Tour winner.

Armstrong's coach – The coach of Lance Armstrong's teams during his seven Tour de France victories will go to arbitration to fight charges that he led a doping program for Armstrong and others.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency confirmed that Johan Bruyneel elected to contest his case before a panel of three arbitrators rather than accept sanctions that likely would have included a lifetime ban from sports.

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