Many have returned to action and succeeded. This summer, Alexander Vinokourov won gold in the Olympic men’s road race.
The 38-year-old Kazakh, who served a two-year ban for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France, had to wait just two questions at the post-race news conference in London before being asked about it.
He called it “a closed chapter.”
Like Vinokourov, who still has a steel plate in his femur from his crash-filled career, Barry sacrificed his body for his sport. He currently has a metal plate and 10 screws in his arm from his latest tumble.
Barry’s story of feeling the pressure to dope — and later regretting his decision — was echoed Wednesday in statements by former Postal riders Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde and Zabriskie, who are now part of Canadian Ryder Hesjedal’s Slipstream Sports team.
In his affidavit to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Barry testified that in 2002 Vande Velde offered to let him stay in his spare room at his apartment in Spain. Teammate Jonathan Vaughters had just moved out.
Barry found used syringes and ampules under the bed.
The Canadian also said while Vande Velde tried to shield his drug use, he found vials of EPO in a coffee bag in the fridge.
Eventually his teammates became more comfortable with Barry and stopped hiding their doping. And in March 2002, he was injected for the first time with a so-called “recovery” product which he was told contained vitamins.
A team doctor deflected questions about such injections, he said.
The next season, Barry testified, teammate George Hincapie “told me he thought I was a talented rider and suggested that I consider using EPO and testosterone.
“He told me the products would make me feel better and that I would not need to use a lot of either substance to see results,” Barry said.
Barry said he met with Dr. Luis del Moral and team director Johan Bruyneel to discuss doping. Instead of a conversation of the merits, he said he and Zabriskie got pointers on how to use EPO before receiving an injection.
They were also given “the basic essentials on how not to get caught.”
“I used EPO and testosterone off and on from 2003 until 2006,” Barry testified. “I also used cortisone on one occasion in 2003 and experimented with hGH (human growth hormone) on one occasion in 2004.
“I obtained doping products from the U.S. Postal Service team doctors and staff and from fellow athletes.”
During the 2003 Tour of Spain, Barry says he and other team riders were given a testosterone product known as “the oil” — a mixture of Andriol (an oral testosterone) and olive oil. Doctors administered it by squirting it into the mouth.
Barry says there was a noticeable difference in his riding while he was doping. But he says he felt better when he stopped using — he slept better and felt better about the way he raced.
“The greatest of ironies, I started having fun again. ... When I look back on that (doping) period, I lost the spark and it’s only in the last five, six years that I realized I regained it .. It was a nice way to end my career. I really, really enjoyed training again and I enjoyed racing again.”
Barry says while doping, he worried “every day” about getting caught. But he never used “massive amounts” so he could avoid test results spiking.
“The only risk was someone coming to the house unannounced after I had doped,” he said. “But generally speaking it was fairly easy to get away with it.
“But I always had a guilty conscience. And when I was out training, I would think about it quite often. And when I was at home. It’s not a great way to live.”
Barry says he was contacted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in the last six weeks.
He had been expecting the call.
Barry acknowledged he could have kept lying.
“But this felt like the right thing to do,” he said.
“And when they called me, I agreed to co-operate,” he added.