TORONTO -- Star Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal responded to doping allegations Wednesday, saying he "chose the wrong path" and made "mistakes."
Excerpts from a new book by former Danish rider Michael Rasmussen say Hesjedal was shown how to use performance-enhancing drugs at the start of his career.
"And even though those mistakes happened more than 10 years ago, and they were short-lived, it does not change the fact that I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since," Hesjedal said in the statement.
The 32-year-old Victoria native and Giro d'Italia champion did not explicitly say he took performance-enhancing drugs, but he apologized to fans, sponsors and other cyclists.
"To everyone in my life, inside and outside the sport, to those that have supported me and my dreams -- including my friends, my family, the media, fans, my peers, sponsors -- to riders who didn't make the same choices as me all those years ago, I sincerely apologize for my part in the dark past of the sport. I will always be sorry," he said.
A statement from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport confirmed that it met with Hesjedal and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in the spring of 2013 as part of the CCES's ongoing investigation into doping in cycling.
"It is important to note that the World Anti-Doping Code has an eight-year statute of limitations," said the CCES. "As such, unfortunately Mr. Hesjedal's acknowledgment of doping in 2003 will not result in a violation or any sanction."
Hesjedal said that he was explicit in his meetings with the two anti-doping agencies and has tried to help cycling recover from previous PED controversies. "I believe that being truthful will help the sport continue to move forward, and over a year ago when I was contacted by anti-doping authorities, I was open and honest about my past," Hesjedal said. "I have seen the best and the worst of the sport and I believe that it is now in the best place it's ever been."
The CCES said it is disappointed that Hesjedal waited more than a decade to publicly disclose his past involvement in doping, and that his conduct has deprived many clean Canadian athletes from the opportunity to shine in the sport of cycling.
Excerpts of Rasmussen's autobiography Yellow Fever, released Wednesday in Danish newspaper Politiken, claim that Rasmussen taught Hesjedal and fellow Canadian cyclists Seamus McGrath and Chris Sheppard how to use EPO, a banned substance used in blood doping, in 2003 when Hesjedal was a young mountain bike racer.
-- The Canadian Press