Since I heard the news that David Millar would be mentoring British Cycling Academy riders in Italy, I was initially conflicted. On one hand, he’s an individual with a vast amount of experience within professional cycling, who could provide valuable advice to young riders, on the other he made a decision at one point to inject EPO into his veins in order to cheat & temporarily win a World Championships, hardly just a little mistake.
I have no doubt that David Millar’s heart is in the right place, that he would do his utmost to ensure that none of our young riders committed the same sporting frauds that he took part in, but is this really the message we want to send to the rest of the world? That British Cycling is willing to employ riders who have doped at the highest level, while a step up the ladder, the extension of British Cycling, Team Sky, is excluding anybody who has any unsanctioned association to doping. Some of these riders may end up in that team, but will have started out in an organisation where they’ve been forcibly associated to a doper. When I say ‘forcibly’, I’m under no illusions that if Shane Sutton said you were to be mentored by David Millar, and you refused, I assume you’re on the next plane home & destined never to return, potentially damaging your future cycling career.
I put these things into a personal perspective, if your child had worked all those years to get to the point of being selected for the Academy, with all he sacrifices from themselves & family. They progress through the British Cycling system with ethical coaches, given all the advice they require regarding anti-doping, supplements etc. Then they reach the Olympic Academy, are taken to another country & you find out an ex-doper is mentoring them, how would you feel about that? Lets put it in perspective, if it was 2002 World TT Champion Santiago Botero, would you think he was a good mentor for young riders?
David Millar may speak very well, he may be committed to anti-doping & working with WADA towards catching cheaters. But if you want to be taken seriously by the rest of sport, in the current climate, he’s the last person you’d choose to mentor our young riders. They could progress to a fiercely anti doping association team like Sky having already been forced to associate with a former doper.
I have no doubt Millar would do a good job, and that he would in no way glorify doping, but that’s not the point. It’s a tragic message that we have nobody better than an individual who damaged the sport in the UK so badly in the past. In every interview we’re going to hear his introduced as ex-doper & British Cycling mentor David Millar. Can they not just get him in to do a couple of presentations on avoiding doping, does he really have to be with them every day?