Cyclist Sean Kelly says doping positives weren’t for performance enhancers

Posted on: August 3rd, 2015

Cyclist Sean Kelly comments on his doping positives

Ex pro cyclist Sean Kelly, now head of the An Post-Chainreaction team, has spoken of his two positive doping test results during his career.


Cyclist Sean Kelly comments on his doping positives


Sean Kelly has said the banned substances he tested positive for in doping tests during his career were ingested by him by “mistake” and were not performance enhancers.

Kelly, now a commentator for Eurosport and aged 59 years, returned an adverse doping result for a product called Stimul in Paris-Brussels in 1984.

And he tested positive for codeine in a doping test at the Tour of the Basque Country in 1988.

Speaking to broadcaster Ray D’Arcy on RTE Radio 1, Sean Kelly was asked about the tests.

D’Arcy, a keen cyclist and triathlete, said when he did his research for the interview and read of “the allegations of drug taking, I suppose over the years and you were found with codeine… you were sort of petty, it was sort of nearly by mistake”.

Former pro cyclist Kelly replied: “Yes, yes; by mistake I think, taken with codeine. You know, it was a cough bottle I received in Belgium from a pharmacist who was into the cycling.

“So, yeah; I went specifically (and) asked him (for) something I could take during competition and he gave it to me.

“And then it was a product that came on the list and of courses, yes, he hadn’t been following up closely enough.

“And yeah, codeine; but codeine, yes, you can take it as being a positive but as a performance enhancer, it’s not.”

He added the continued storm around drug use in cycling would only dissipate over many years to come.

“I think time will repair. It will take time because I think the doping problem went on for 50 years. And it’s going to take a number of years before we get out of that shadow.

“That’s something we are paying the price for and it’s going to continue on for a number of years.”

Asked if Chris Froome was clean or doping , he laughed: “Time will tell.”

Sean Kelly continued: “I think he’s clean. We’re coming out of an environment where anybody who does a performance in cycling or in sport; that’s always that suspicion, especially in cycling. But I think yes… I’d put my life on it.

Sean Kelly said the doping case against former pro cyclist Lance Armstrong was well proven before had made his public admission in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“He was always a Texan, he was always very arrogant. When I finished up my career, in my final year he was coming into the sport.

“And even at that time as a young guy, as a new professional on the scene, he was that way.”

He said while it took a long time to learn the truth about Armstrong, it came out eventually.

When asked by D’Arcy about the “instrumental” role Irish journalists David Walsh and Paul Kimmage had played in “exposing” Armstrong, Kelly said:

“Well yes, I think they were part of the sports journalists that went after him.

“And there was a number of other ones as well, some of the French journalists went after him.

“It was amazing; it took such a long time to find it out. I think… in the beginning we all knew over a period of time there was something not right; the way they were performing..

“It took us all a long time to really understand the doping problem, how much it was within the teams and within the team structure.

“And not only Lance Armstrong there was a number of other riders during that era as well.”

When asked about his own record in the Tour de France, Kelly said he could have finished higher than his best of 4th overall and may have even won the race if he had focussed on it more.

“You always look back and in hindsight it’s a great thing,” he said.

“When I look back at my Tour of France performances I think if I had concentrated more on the Tour of France.

“And maybe in the early part of the season not done as many classic races (I) would have got on the podium certainly for the Tour of France.

“And possibly I would have won the Tour of France.”

He believed Ireland could still win the Tour de France again one day.

“I think it’s possible, we’ve got the talent. In such a small country; there’s definitely the talent out there. But of course cycling is not one of the major sports in this country.”