Cycling Australia VP Stephen Hodge quits over doping past
Cycling Australia has been rocked by another doping revelation in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal, with vice president Stephen Hodge quitting on Friday after admitting to doping during his time as a professional rider.
“During a stage of my career as a professional cyclist I took performance enhancing drugs – a decision I am not proud of,” Hodge wrote in a letter to CA.
His resignation came in the same week as CA fired road racing coordinator Matt White after it was revealed he was involved in doping while a teammate of Armstrong on the US Postal team in 2003. The admissions follow the US Anti-Doping Agency’s damning report into Armstrong’s career.
Hodge raced as pro in Europe from 1987 to 1996 with several teams including KAS-Mavic, Caja-Rural Orbea and ONCE. He was appointed to the CA board in 1999 and became vice president in 2007.
CA president Klaus Mueller commended Hodge’s decision to confess to his past involvement with performance enhancing substances and praised him for his contribution to the CA board.
“At all times while Stephen was on the board with me he acted with high principle and great integrity and has been a staunch opponent of doping,” Mueller said.
“In light of the current circumstances Stephen has made it clear he doesn’t want a mistake he made two decades ago to affect the work of Cycling Australia to take the sport forward,” Mueller added.
Hodge apologised to the board and other cyclists in the letter.
“I believe other cyclists should never have to face the same pressures I did during my professional career,” he said. “I would also like to believe that in my 13 years as a director of CA I have been able to make a valuable contribution in this regard, as well as helping to encourage the growth and strength of cycling as a sport in Australia.”
Hodge represented Australia at 10 world championships, the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games and the Atlanta Olympics, as well as completing the Tours de France six times.
He is a patron of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Ride for a Cure charity and the mentoring organisation for adolescent boys, Men’s Link.
Hodge said he shared CA’s strong commitment to the fight against doping while serving as a board member.
In announcing White’s termination on Wednesday, CA took the opportunity to criticise the international federation for taking too long to stamp out doping in the sport
“There is now clear evidence that the UCI, until recent times, failed to fully and properly do its part to stamp out doping,” CA said in a statement at the time. But, “We stand by our belief that the UCI deserves significant credit in a number of areas, namely its persistence in dealing with the Operation Puerto files and the ground-breaking introduction of the Biological Passport.
“We believe there is also reasonable evidence to support the view that the current professional peloton is much ‘cleaner’ and fair competition is now taking place. However, we concede questions do remain.”