Danish cyclist Bjarne Riis, winner of the 1996 Tour de France, admitted on Friday that he had taken the banned blood-booster EPO from 1993 until 1998 while competing for German team Telekom.
Riis, the 43-year-old current manager of Team CSC, said he took erythropoietin (EPO) from 1993 until 1998, including the 1996 season when he put an end to Miguel Indurain's five-year reign on the Tour de France.
"I have taken banned substances, I have taken EPO. I bought it and took it myself," Riis said at a press conference, adding that team doctors bore no responsibility for his actions.
"It is ultimately the cyclists themselves who must take responsibility," he said.
Asked by a journalist if he was a worthy Tour de France winner, Riis replied:
"No, I am not."
However, the Dane added that he was "a rider at a time when those were the conditions."
EPO was said to be rife in the professional peloton during the 1990s, when there was still no test able to detect its use by riders.
The Telekom team was a major force in 1996, and in 1997 when Jan Ullrich won the Tour de France yellow jersey.
Since the fall-out of a recent doping affair surrounding Ullrich, who is now retired, the team which is now known as T-Mobile has undergone a thorough clean-out of staff and riders connected with those 'doping years'.
Several of Riis's former Telekom teammates this week confessed to using banned substances, including one of the top cyclists of the past 15 years, Erik Zabel of Germany, as well as Rolf Aldag, Bert Dietz, Christian Henn and Udo Boelts.
Riis said he wanted to come clean to put the past behind him.
"I want to put history behind me to make sure that the good work I have done with my team isn't hindered," he said.
"I am proud of my results as a rider and an owner," he said.
EPO stimulates the production of red blood cells, increasing oxygen-carrying capacity and therefore improving endurance.