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Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Time trial world champ admits: 'I cheated'

Reuters

PARIS -- Cycling time trial world champion David Millar, who was ruled out of the Tour de France because of a doping investigation, will by sacked by his Cofidis team, the team's management said on Tuesday.

Millar was placed under official judicial investigation on July 1 and has admitted to taking the banned drug erythropoietin (EPO), an endurance booster, in 2001 and 2003.

"He will receive a letter, notifying him of our disapproval and signalling his dismissal," said Francis Van Londerseele, sports manager of Cofidis, adding Millar had not taken up an invitation for a meeting prior to his dismissal.

"We wanted to listen to him, but he hasn't appeared. We have therefore taken this decision," Van Londerseele told Reuters.

Millar, a Scot, won the penultimate stage of the 2003 Tour de France, a 49 km time trial, to go with a prologue success in 2000 and a stage victory in 2002.

The cyclist was released after questioning in Nanterre, north of Paris, on July 1, but the inquiry continued. Official investigation in France is a step short of pressing charges.

"I dreamed about becoming world champion -- I have achieved that, but I cheated," Millar told investigators, according to a report by L'Equipe daily on Tuesday.

"I wasn't proud to be doping, I wasn't happy about it. I was prisoner of the person I had become," he was quoted as saying.

Millar has also been ruled out of the Great Britain team for next month's Olympics in Athens after being suspended by the British Cycling Federation.

Three Cofidis riders have already been charged, including 1992 Olympic bronze medallist Philippe Gaumont, who was sacked by Cofidis after admitting taking and dealing in drugs.

The affair is the biggest judicial investigation into cycling since the Festina scandal that erupted during the 1998 Tour de France.