Canadian Ryder Hesjedal has admitted to taking EPO "over ten years ago", according to BBC Sport.

This admission comes after disgraced Danish cyclist Michael Rasmussen claimed that he taught Hesjedal how to use EPO in 2003. As yet Hesjedal has not confirmed how long he was doping for and whether he has taken performance enhancing drugs recently.

The 32-year-old has enjoyed a glittering career so far, including winning the Pink Jersey in last year's Giro d'Italia; the Italian equivalent of the Tour de France yellow jersey.

He has also won stages in the other two grand tours: the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana as well as winning a mountain biking World Championship silver medal in 2003; the year he was doping.

This admission will not surprise many cyclists as Hesjedal's started his career in one of the darkest eras of cycling, when most cyclists were taking performance enhancing drugs and the culture of cycling was to dope; particularly to take EPO.

EPO is a hormone which controls the production of red blood cells in the body. It was used in cycling so much because it helped to increase haematocrit; the number of red blood cells in the body.

Although now tests have improved to the extent that it is now nigh on impossible to get away with EPO use, at that time the tests were very primitive and it was incredibly easy to pass tests whilst using the drugs; hence why the likes of Lance Armstrong never failed a test.

Michael Rasmussen was part of the disgraced Rabobank cycling team (now Belkin Pro Cycling) at that time and won two polka-dot jerseys (best climber) in the 2005 and 2006 Tours de France.

In 2007 he looked odds-on favourite to win the yellow jersey in that year's tour but was sensationally withdrawn from the race and sacked on the spot by his team for "violating team rules." It later transpired that Rasmussen had mysteriously not turned up for drugs tests and he admitted to doping throughout his career earlier this year.

On that same evening Bradley Wiggins's team mate failed a drugs test and Wiggins's team, Cofidis, had to withdraw from the Tour as well. Wiggins in the airport on the way back home threw his Cofidis jersey in the bin and quit the team.

Hesjedal said in his admission: "More than a decade ago I chose the wrong path. Even though those mistakes happened more than 10 years ago, and they were short-lived, it does not change the fact I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since."

Hesjedal was one of a group of riders called to testify against Lance Armstrong by USADA in the Armstrong doping scandal as he was a teammate of Armstrong's between 2004 and 2005, but now believes that the sport is clean.

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Topics:
Cycling
Lance Armstrong