"The damage been done to my family will never be repaired"
Mikel Astarloza stands firm and keeps saying that he never used any illegal substances to win a race.
How are you doing right now?
Personally I am doing better now. The last month was the worst period in my life, the hardest hit I ever received. That's why I gave the press conference. It felt like a liberation, I could finally say what I wanted to say. Since then life started to pick up again, I got a bit of grip on the situation. Before, I wanted to hide. I will keep saying the same thing I said to the end. I will defend my innocence.
Are you aware that many people don't believe you?
I know that I am not in a good position, my word is contrary to the lab results, I am aware of that. But I am optimistic about going in appeal. If I did use drugs I would confess. I would acknowlegde that.
If you work together with the sports authorities you can get a penalty of only one year instead of two years.
I know there are ways to shorten the penalty, for example if I said I doped. But I didn't dope! I wouldn't say I doped even if I got no penalty at all! I then rather be two years suspended. I have good reasons for saying what I say, other authorized people believe in my credibility. I will never confess something I didn't do.
How was life since the positive?
The first two days since the news I didn't train. That was in the weekend, on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday I started training again.
Do you think about the situation in which you're in?
How couldn't I? I think about it all the time. But I know what I have done and I can stand firm.
What are the reactions of the people on the street? Did you get much support?
More than anything I got much support from the people, the family and my friends. Many people believe in my words. I realize that it is hard to believe a cyclist who tested positive because there are many cases of doped cyclists these days. But I didn't lie, and I didn't use any illegal substances either. I didn't lie. I keep saying the same thing. I am innocent.
You say you didn't dope, but the analysis and the counteranalysis is positive. How can that be?
I can not accuse anyone without proof. I can think of seventeen thousand theories of what happened, but I don't know the real story, for I have no proof of what I am thinking. Everything I can do is saying the truth, and that is that I am innocent.
Why should we believe this? Why can the people believe in you?
Because its true. I can repeat it time and time again. If I doped, I would have the courage to say, yes, I doped. And I would go home and do something else. But I don't.
Did you cry?
Yes, because of the helplessness, the shock, and the fact that I don't know why it is me that got into this ****. I am a guy with very expressional emotional feelings, so yes, I cried in anger.
Did you receive much support?
From many people, though I got more calls and messages after I won the Tourstage. If anyone supported me it were my friends and my family. That helped me a lot, though maybe they don't know that. But I am indebted to many people and if they need help in some part of their lifes, I will help and support them.
The press conference in the hotel Amara Plaza was a striking and surprising event.
Why are you surprised? I felt indebted to many people and I thought I had to do this. It is the best decision I made in the worst period of my life. I wanted to tell everyone the feelings of my heart.
How do you remember the stage you won in the Tour?
In my memories and with photos and newspapers in my house. Whatever will happen, nobody is going to erase that memory!
How do you see your future?
I am sure my career is not yet over. I want to prove that I am clean, that my word is true, that there can be a false positive. But I can not end my career like this, on paper.
Does your team support you?
How many teams support positive cyclists? They do. That means something. They have the most data and analysis of everyone from my controls.
For whom it was worse, for you or for your family?
It was harder for them. The damage done to them is unforgivable. They have been worse than me.
Is it true that you use a hypobaric tent?
Yes, I use it now for four years. It is totally legal. There are more things I do to prepare for racing, but it are all legal things.
Further reading also on cyclingnews, where the team doubts the reliability of the dopingtests and hires several experts to prove the innocence of Astarloza. If anything, I love their support for their rider and their courage.