Only a month ago, Stuart O'Grady announced that he would continue as a professional for one more season, ending at the 2014 Tour de France, where he would have established a record for participations.
By
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

Two days ago, at the conclusion of the 2013 Tour, he surprisingly announced his retirement from the sport.

"Originally, I wanted to keep going, but I've kept thinking that this is the year," he said. "I'm turning 40 very soon, and I've realised there are things in my life that I want to prioritise.

"My family has helped me make this decision. It's been 23 years of top-level performing and 19 years of professional racing, so it's time to move on."

Overnight, at the conclusion of a French Parlimentary investigation and report into doping in sport, which included the infamous 1998 Tour de France, he admitted to doping after being named as a 'suspicious' rider.

"Leading into the (1998) Tour I made a decision, I sourced it myself, there was no one else involved, it didn't involve the team in any way," said O'Grady. "I just had to drive over the border and buy it at any pharmacy.

"The hardest part of all this is I did it for two weeks before the Tour de France. I used extremely cautious amounts because I'd heard a lot of horror stories and did the absolute minimum of what I hoped would get me through.

"When the Festina affair happened, I smashed it, got rid of it and that was the last I ever touched it."

Yes, just that one time at band camp, alone in the closet.

More curious was this...

"After my first Tour (in 1997), when I was dropped after 5km on a mountain day and you're questioning what the hell I am doing in this sport you're not anywhere near competitive at something you're supposed to be pretty good at."

O'Grady was dropped in 1997. He doped in 1998 to keep up, bagging a stage and the yellow jersey for a few days. It is reasonable to ask, as many have since this "news" came out, how for the rest of his career, O'Grady continued to maintain that improved performance?

In 2012 O'Grady said this after talks with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) which came in the wake of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation into Lance Armstrong.

''They need to get all the information they can and then analyse it all, and hopefully then they'll realise that certainly at an Australian level it wasn't anywhere near as bad as they think it is, that's just my view, and then we can move on.

''They've got a lot of questions which have been fuelled by the USADA 1000-page document. So they're asking very point-blank questions, which is hard for me to swallow.

"You've been around a long time, you've achieved a lot of stuff and you're answering questions which you basically have no idea about. But whatever helps clear up this situation. I think we should all help out as much as we can.

''I am probably going to have another (interview with ASADA). I'm quite happy to talk about everything relevant, but I also got asked questions which I had absolutely no idea about. I have been around a long time, but I've been around a long time because luckily I'm a gifted bike rider."

What exactly did he share with ASADA, Taste le Tour recipies?

Sadly, none of this comes as a surprise anymore. It only confirms what we already know or suspected of the sport in both that and subsequent eras.

O'Grady was one of the stand-up guys of the peloton, looked up to and respected by all, but as we know, he wasn't alone.

Hopefully, other riders of that era not named but who may be similarly guilty, will now stand by his side and not for continued omertà and to protect post-cycling careers, but for the sake of the sport.