David Zabriskie was one of many cyclists who signed affidavits testifying that they had seen Lance Armstrong use performance enhancing drugs. But more than testifying against Armstrong, Zabriskie’s heartbreaking testimony detailed how a drug-rich and bullying culture of cycling forced him to make gut-wrenching choices at a young age in hopes of pursuing his dreams. Here’s his story in six quotes from his affidavit.
“Cycling became a refuge for me. Long, hard training rides were cathartic and provided an escape from the difficult home life associated with a parent with addiction. My father had a long history of substance use and addiction. Seeing what happened to my father from his substance abuse, I vowed never to use drugs. I viewed cycling as a healthy and wholesome outlet that would keep me far away from my father’s footsteps.”
“The decision of whether to go to college or continue cycling was upon me. Doping had been in the news a great deal in 1998 with the Festina scandal at the Tour de France, and I knew that I did not want to use drugs. Among the people I went to for advice was [USA Cycling President] Steve Johnson. He said not to worry about drugs in cycling. He said that the sport is cleaning up and it is a great time to enter.”
“At a training camp in Tucson in the beginning of 2001, I got very intoxicated during a celebration of my birthday, eventually falling asleep in a bath tub. Johan [Bruyneel] goaded me into drinking more, saying “take another shot or I’ll fire you.” His comment was in jest, however, those of us not on the Tour team knew that we were expendable and our careers were very much controlled by team management.”
” After the training camp in Tucson, I moved to Spain. I had trouble making the adjustment to living in Spain. I was in a small town, isolated from other teammates. I did not speak the language. I had no support, no help. I was lonely and, for the most part, distant from my older, more experienced teammates. I was struggling mentally and emotionally and it affected my racing season. I had to beg Johan to keep me on the team for 2002. He said he could only pay me $15,000 for the season, so I agreed to the reduction in my pay and rededicated myself to doing my best. I began using the “recovery” injection product provided by the team regularly in 2002 because I came to believe it was just vitamins as consistently represented to [me] by the team doctors.”
“I felt cornered. I had pursued cycling to escape a home life torn apart by drugs, and now I was faced with this. I looked to [teammate] Michael [Barry] for support, but it became clear he had decided to use EPO (a performance enhancing drug). He kept repeating Bruyneel’s opinions that EPO use was required for success in the peloton. At some point I had no more questions. The fear was still there in the pit of my stomach but I could think of nothing else to say. Johan, Dr. [Luis Garcia] del Moral, Michael and I left the Café and we all four went to Michael’s apartment where Dr. del Moral injected both Michael and me with EPO.”
“I went back to my Spanish apartment and had a breakdown. I called home, crying. I had pursued cycling as an escape from drugs and here I was, having succumbed to the pressure.”