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Let's make one thing clear - Cycling Central didn't go about hunting down Jay Sweet in the reveal-all interview regarding his days as a European-based professional who once represented a high-profile French team at the Tour de France.

It was a chance meeting in the lobby of an Adelaide hotel in January when I met Sweet for the first time in 14 years.

To be honest he had to remind me who he was when we first laid eyes on each other, as I initially didn't recognize him.

Gone are the trademark gold chains he used to wear while the well-groomed hairstyle of the late 1990s has also disappeared.

These days, his limbs are littered with tattoos while his thinly-framed physique has been replaced by solid muscle - probably the result of working in the fishing industry as he did in New Zealand where he lived for several years before recently returning to South Australia.

The topic of conversation between us originally centered around Lance Armstrong's confessions with Oprah Winfrey and it was here when the chat moved to Jay sharing his own personal experiences with doping.

It was an interesting, candid, private discussion and Sweet didn't hesitate when asked whether he would be prepared to tell-all in front of the SBS cameras.

For those who may not have seen Sweet in his prime, he was regarded as the fastest sprinter in Australia - even faster than Robbie McEwen.

At the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic, a week-long stage race which followed a course down the eastern seaboard in the 1990s, Sweet was virtually unbeatable when challenging in the bunch kick.

So it came as no surprise when he collected the gold medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

That success was his passport to bigger and better opportunities in Europe when joining the Big Mat-Auber team.

As the only Australian in a French-dominated squad, he was fully aware of the doping culture that existed but he wasn't prepared to being exposed to the normal daily practices the day he arrived for his French employer.

As for the doctor Sweet claims administered a dose of cortisone during a UCI-sanctioned race in Spain in 2001, that practice may have been the catalyst to ending what could have been a brilliant career.

A graduate of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) cycling program, which included the likes of David McKenzie, Henk Vogels and Robbie McEwen, Sweet was a pure, clean cyclist - as all the Aussies were at the time.

Cheating in races was never part of the AIS course under the coaching leadership of German mentor Heiko Salzwedel.

Aussies with stars in their eyes were taught to win on talent and strength alone, and as Sweet explains to Cycling Central, perhaps this was his downfall.

Some like Cycling Central's editor Phil Gomes call for other Australian cyclists who raced from the same era to "come clean" and follow in Sweet's footsteps if any have links to doping.



Yes, there is an argument to be made that only by confessing can we solve the problem of doping in cycling, but what would it prove 10-15 years on?

Australian cycling lost the services of Matt White last year - is the system in a better place for sins committed in the distant past?

Either way, Jay Sweet should be commended for coming clean and giving us a clear insight on the methods used to cheat in what was a "dirty" environment.



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