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Former cycling champ says doping rife since t -

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Former cycling champ says doping rife since the 1940s
Samantha Turnbull reported this story on Thursday, October 25, 2012 12:34:00

ELEANOR HALL: The 2011 Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans, is urging cycling fans to keep their faith. Speaking after the announcement of next year's Tour de France route, the Australian champion said that cycling had "moved on" from the recent doping scandals.

But former Australian world cycling champion, Reginald Arnold, says that's being optimistic.

The 88-year-old told Samantha Turnbull that doping was rife in the sport as far back as the 1940s.

REGINALD ARNOLD: We had this little jockey from America who was looking after us and massaging us during the six day race. He tried to put us on drugs, he tried to put us on caffeine, which wasn't a bad drug in those days but a lot of the cyclists around me, they took drugs and I can count on 10 fingers 10 guys I raced against who are now dead because they took drugs, amphetamines mostly, you know.

We never had them fortunately and that's why I'm still around at 88 (laughs).

SAMANTHA TURNBULL: What made you resist?

REGINALD ARNOLD: We didn't know what they were all about and we saw the effects that they had on guys that were taking them. Like they'd start taking them on the first night and then by the third night they were no more good, they just petered out.

Even in my day, in the early '50s we had a famous Italian cyclist called Fausto Coppi and he was known to have taken blood from his body three or four weeks prior to the Tour de France and then during the hard hilly stages drain the blood out of his body and put the fresh drug in that he'd taken from his body months previous, you know, helped him climb over the hills.

But he admitted to taking drugs but it didn't matter because he's dead now and there is nothing they can take away from him. He was like a god in Italy.

SAMANTHA TURNBULL: Why do you think drug use is so prevalent in cycling in particular?

REGINALD ARNOLD: Because it's highlighted. Now that Lance Armstrong's been found out to be a cheat they're going to be testing all the bike riders. I know they say even now they are taking this drug called EPO (erythropoietin). I don't even know what it is.

SAMANTHA TURNBULL: How did you feel when you heard about Lance Armstrong? Was he one of your heroes?

REGINALD ARNOLD: Yeah, I was disappointed. You know, I honestly thought that he would have been taking something but that was for his cancer. When all his team-mates explained how he'd induced them to take drugs and everything, I was completely devastated.

SAMANTHA TURNBULL: What do you think about what it's done for the sport, the sport that you loved so much?

REGINALD ARNOLD: It's terrible; it's given the sport a very bad name especially for cyclists.

SAMANTHA TURNBULL: What do you think the solution is?

REGINALD ARNOLD: Well, they either got to let them all take drugs or ban the ones that do take it. There is no in-between. It's black or white and there is no grey.

SAMANTHA TURNBULL: Will you still watch cycling races with the same enthusiasm?

REGINALD ARNOLD: Yes, I will, yes and when I look at them I'll say to myself I wonder if he's taken it, you know (laughs)?

SAMANTHA TURNBULL: What do you think of Cadel?

REGINALD ARNOLD: Cadel is a good bike rider. He's won a world championship, he's won the Tour de France and I don't believe he takes drugs.

Because of his exploits and when you look at the exploits of Lance Armstrong, the way he went over those big mountains in France, Cadel couldn't stay with him because he didn't have the drugs to help him.

It is a funny think about drugs, I was told that drugs only, if you're fit and well, drugs only can enhance your performance by 10 per cent but a lot of the bike riders think that they want the drugs to help them for 90 per cent, you know, and if you're fit and well you don't need them, you don't need them.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Reginald Arnold speaking to Samantha Turnbull from the ABC's North Coast bureau.

And Mr Arnold was recognised at this year's Australia Day awards for his services to cycling.