A former professional cyclist who shined a spotlight on cycling’s doping culture with his 2012 autobiography visited Red Deer to share his story.
Tyler Hamilton spoke at the Red Deer Public Library’s downtown branch Friday night.
Hamilton said he released The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France because he had to tell the truth.
“The truth was eating me alive,” he said. “I was at the top level for a long time – eight Tour de Frances. I was a part of the doping culture and it was a big secret for a long time and it got to the point where I had to tell the truth.”
In 2004, Hamilton won a gold medal in the individual time trial event at the Summer Olympics in Greece, but was stripped of the medal in 2012. He was also suspended from the sport for two years after failing a doping test at the 2004 Vuelta a España.
Hamilton, a longtime teammate of Lance Armstrong, said the first time he realized he needed to tell his story was during the Armstrong trial.
“I told the truth in the federal grand jury for seven hours and when I got out of that courtroom it felt like I shed a 100-kilogram backpack,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton said he didn’t know what kind of impact the book would have.
“I had no idea if even 10 or 20 people would buy it,” he said. “I know there are many stories like that out there, but not many are being shared.
“It’s an important story and I wish it wasn’t about myself, but it’s true. Sometimes you just have to eat humble pie and be honest with yourself and others.”
Hamilton said he’s excited to ride in the Berry Architecture Wellness Ride Saturday in Red Deer. The event benefits the Central Alberta Brain Injury Society and the Canadian Mental Health Association – Central Alberta Region.
“Mental illness has affected me and my family, so I feel it’s an important battle to fight,” he said. “Everybody has different challenges and an event like this is a way to get out there and speak about it openly.”
It’s important to break down barriers and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health, he added.
Hamilton will also ride in Cyclovia Sunday in downtown Red Deer.