David Millar Documentary

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


This is a Spanish TV sports documentary from Canal+. The Informe Robinson show is a slick production with tight editing and sharp photography. Much of the audio is in English so if you’re don’t speak Spanish, be patient.

After Millar explains what attracts him to the sport, factors I can only agree with, the heavy topic of doping dominates. Normal, Spanish TV isn’t going to do a 30 minute prime-time TV show with an English-speaker for his views on training with a power meter, nor his take on the Spanish economy. It is important viewing, Millar explains out how widespread the practice was and how “being professional” wasn’t the status on your racing licence, it was getting the job done. This meant using banned substances professionally.

The documentary mirrors Millar’s “Racing Through The Dark” autobiography, indeed he reads passages from it. But there is more, especially when Millar speaks about his emotions, past and present although there is more, for example Millar’s views on Miguel Indurain and, topically, he sets himself up for a selective lawsuit from the UCI.

Talking of suits this is worth watching to admire the sartorial panache of Garmin-Sharp team boss Jonathan Vaughters but his snappy outfit shouldn’t distract from his words, he ends with a tribute to his rider.

As the sport finds itself caught up by its past here is someone who, if he hasn’t escaped, is still standing and there are lessons to be learned here. Especially as Millar is articulate and willing to talk about the past, a rarity.

Millar is not for everyone and if he’s won some round there are still many sceptics. A problem perhaps is that he’s almost a lone voice saying “I doped, I’m sorry” and if you don’t like his style, you tend not to listen. If there were others with similar things to say then the message itself would spread instead of stalling on the subject of Millar himself.

Either way press play and the full screen option allows for a good quality resolution. The “Robinson Report” is presented by Michael Robinson, an Irishman and former football player..

Chris E Dub September 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Great documentary – thanks for providing the link and commentary.

Duncan September 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Good report. But, err, is this legal to use?

The Inner Ring September 26, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Yes, it’s approved for sharing by Canal+.

Sir Velo September 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm

An alternative take on DM keeping his syringe from the 03Worlds was not, pace DM, as a memento of a past he had turned his back on, but rather because, subconsciously at least, he was at some level prepared to go back to doping when the results failed to materialise in 04. Elsewhere, he was clearly struggling to find conviction in his voice that his idol,Big Mig, had won at least one tour clean. For behaviourists, there were a couple of instances in the video where DM scratches his nose; a sure sign that he is uncomfortable with the entirety of the truth he is purporting to tell.

psd September 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Because a professional bike rider couldn’t possibly afford to buy a clean syringe, could they?

Sir Velo September 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Of course they could and would. The point is that when we keep things it’s a sure sign that we haven’t let go of that part of our life. DM may not even have known his own motivations clearly, but I suspect that, deep down, he knows he would have doped again if he hadn’t been busted at that time.

Sir Velo September 26, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I say that because it then enables him to say, “Hey guys, look I was already going clean for 6 months before I was busted. I was already a reformed character. I wasn’t shamed into doing this. It’s entirely at my own volition that I’ve gone clean, and if I hadn’t kept that syringe no-one would ever have known any of this.” If the guy had already really reformed himself, why did he then go off the rails for 8 months? This all suggests to me that it wasn’t until the public shaming and the aftermath of being banned that he truly confronted his past.

Tom September 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Another equally probable interpretation for keeping the syringes it that he was willing to be caught.

nick September 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

In his book he says he isn’t 100% sure why he kept them. In his book he also says if he hadn’t been caught he could well have ended up dead. The police helped him turn his life around and he acknowledges that. Please just look at what he has done since he got caught, not how. He has done more for this sport than most others in it.

Luke September 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Or that whole part of the interview is BS. I have a hard time believing his story about being caught. It reminds me of something you make up as a child to get out of trouble. Though I don’t know what incentive he would have to lie about it.

Tovarishch September 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm

So why did I keep half a packet of cigarettes for 3 years after I quit smoking?

HW September 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Thanks for sharing. Just finished reading The Secret Race too. Isn’t Tyler Hamilton one of those ‘others with similar things to say’?

The Inner Ring September 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm

He’s done the book but we’ll see if he keeps up the momentum. Let’s hope the book is just the start of a conversation.

Xris September 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Good distraction from being in the middle of reading The Secret Race. Interesting to note all that’s going on and being able to tie in current events. Also, Vaughters needs to give us the name of his tailor.

Tovarishch September 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

When did Wiggo start wearing Vaughters sideburns?

neil September 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Thanks for posting this… absolutely required viewing… even so, a pity it was only half an hour as it felt like it only really scratched at the surface.

Kastrup September 26, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Unlike many others who are reading The Secret Race i am actually in the middle of Racing through the Dark and the one thing i also couldn’t understand is why he kept those syringes. If he hated most of that period of his life and the fact that he had turned over to “the dark side” that much why keep those syringes as memories?
I truly hope that other drug cheats whether caught or not, assist the struggling governing body and anybody who cares to listen in understanding and eradicating the general problem with abused substances that i believe is affecting pretty much every sport.
Interesting notice with the supposed “tells” of DM, but as pointed out by psd i would also believe that DM would have the funds to invest in new syringes had he ever chosen to dope again.

Sheol September 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm

… perhaps because sub-consciously he was riddled with guilt and wanted to be caught?

jack September 26, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Jonathan Vaughters confessional in the New York Times, Tyler’s Secret Race, David’s book, Levi’s movie coming up in October. They are all pieces of the same “I-doped and I am coming clean” wave. It’s good to see it happening. It’s the only way forward.

PerMHall September 26, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Great documentary, and thanks for posting it. Just wish I could understand the Spanish bits, especially the ones by mr. Vaughters

Buddenbrook September 26, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Interesting programme. I agree Millar slightly broadens his narrative from the book here, no doubt carried along by the growing confessional wave. The book is classic autobiography and works as a narrative of personal redemption (there’s a similar structure in the Canal+ film). Millar is reluctant to name too many names. Hamilton’s text hits far more targets and is possibly more significant in the politics of doping. I’m only half way through but the scope of what he claims is mind boggling.

Here the comment on the UCI is particularly important – this, for me, is where the real burden of the question lies. McQuaid is in trouble I fear – he should be.

Finally, for what it’s worth I’ve had some slight dealings with Millar professionally. He seems a decent and engaging character. Slightly old fashioned in a way (ex-pat style). I hope he continues to develop his response to the history he is part of.

Al September 27, 2012 at 7:52 am

That Millar doesn’t name names is, if anything, due to English libel law as much as anything, something that Hamilton is more or less immune to now US law means English libel rulings cannot be served in the US.

routier September 26, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Very interesting and enjoyable. Thanks for posting it.

peloton.pl September 26, 2012 at 11:50 pm

I just hope all these guys live long and get to their pleasant Safari pensioners trips/sea cruises and don’t have their lifes shortened by any cardiac malfunctions. Such were ( maybe still are ) times in cycling – the greatest endurance sport there is.
I don’t blame them all for doping. He was right saying that foremost you need to be top clean athlete and EPO was giving you and extra few spins to beat other extra spinners

peloton.pl September 26, 2012 at 11:56 pm

….EPO was giving you an extra few spins to beat other extra spinners

Rui Quinta September 26, 2012 at 11:55 pm

So, Vandevelde never had the dilemma about doping and said he never doped… but Vaughters say he did it… what’s happening? Who I must believe?

jack September 27, 2012 at 3:01 am

I understood from Vandevelde on this video that he did not have the dilemma while he was a domestique coming in 70th place in races. He did not address here if he faced the dilemma once he became team leader in a grand tour.

Rui Quinta September 27, 2012 at 10:29 am

Yes, I think you are right, but he just became team leader in Garmin… the team “100% doping clean”. Vaughters said they (VDV, Danielson and Zabriskie) doped in USP, Liberty, CSC… but didn’t in Garmin. It’s incoherent, it isn’t?

Ben September 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I took it as VDV was doping but felt like since he wasn’t taking wins away from anyone he didn’t have the same ethical dilemna

jack September 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Good points Rui and Ben. Probably both right.

Rui Quinta September 27, 2012 at 12:07 am

And the “equipier” (Italian from Tuscany) is easy to find: Massimiliano Lelli. Shouldn’t be a new to anyone.

MikeB September 27, 2012 at 2:38 am

Thanks for posting – I hadn’t read his book so this was a good summary – is it possible to get a Spanish speaker to translate what Vaughters said and stick it in here ? That would be interesting for the non-Spanish speakers. Ta.

Julian September 27, 2012 at 3:12 am

Nothing new here. What they are doing now puts EPO to shame…and it’s not even detectable.
Take a look at “Cobra” like moves….like last Sunday…and you will get the picture.

Salsiccia September 27, 2012 at 11:04 am

Do expand.

Joe September 27, 2012 at 4:07 am

How serious are all these guys about their convictions? They cry about how conflicted they are and how tough it all was or is. Is simply admitting that they did it enough, or should they just retire? They forget how much residual physical benefit they enjoy from their years of doped racing and training, and they carry that benefit into their “clean” racing careers. They delude themselves that the field of play was still somehow level because all the winners doped, and they should therefore still live their privileged life with ill-gotten riches. And when they admit their transgressions, they want to be congratulated for how hard it must have been for them to admit it all. They need to make a gesture that shows more commitment before they can be taken seriously.

Cameron September 27, 2012 at 10:59 am

You don’t think David Millar’s work with WADA “shows more commitment”?

Bob September 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Working with WADA and not racing would have been the right choice. Let’s not forget that he didn’t come clean on his own. He simply got caught and had to figure out what to do. This is not to suggest that he was worse than anybody else. but he doesn’t belong on a pedestal as an example of someone with high ethics. Certain other great riders chose to leave the sport instead of doping. And they too were ostracized as stupid “tree huggers.”

Tovarishch September 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm

People like you drive me mad. You want dopers treated worse than burglars and shop-lifters. They have admitted their guilt and served their time. They deserve to be accepted back into society.

Bob September 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Tovarishch, I was a pro who didn’t dope. It really wasn’t that great riding with guys who were manipulating. It’s frustrating to watch former dopers continue to profit, albeit in an indirect way, from having doped. They made the choice which ultimately advanced their careers the most, despite the penalties of having been caught. But you are right that once the suspension is served they have to be accepted again.

Salsiccia September 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Why should he not race? He loves the sport; and that’s why he’s gone about things the way he has since being caught. He’s been a prime mover in a team that has introduced a whole new culture. He’s probably one of the most important people in cycling right now, and a lot of that influence he has had is *because* he came back to race and race clean successfully.

Tovarishch September 28, 2012 at 10:16 am

For some reason I can’t reply directly to Bob but here goes

Bob – It happens in every walk of life. Perhaps not doping but people who cheat their way to the top. Stabbing co-workers in the back, taking credit for things that someone else has done, etc. etc. The advantage that cycling has is that people can realise their errors and correct them. Frankly a whole lot better than the unfair competition many of us have to put up with.

Paul Gorman September 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

Small gripe:

“Spanish TV isn’t going to do a 30 minute prime-time TV show with an Englishman for his views on training with a power meter”

Millar isn’t English; he’s Scottish.

The Inner Ring September 27, 2012 at 10:11 am

Good point, think I meant English-speaker.

dan September 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm

he’s not really scottish, isn’t he from malta then hong kong or something? didn’t he just live in scotland for a couple of years?

Cameron September 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm

He regards himself as Scottish. Won gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games Time Trial for Scotland. I think that counts as Scottish.

But to avoid confusion it’d probably have been simpler to call him British!

Mendip5000 September 28, 2012 at 8:10 am

The accent sounds like he might come from a posh bit of Devon to me.

I’m sorry he felt he had to dope and accept his explanation of the pressure he felt. I glad for Bob that he didn’t feel the pressure so strongly that he gave in. It’s a shame that Bob now feels the pressure of regret as he sees others profiting from past doping.

In an imperfect world I believe Millar has done the best he could, for the most people he could, without hurting himself further. I was delighted with his TDF stage win this year – probably more than with a Brit winning the whole shebang.

Dave G September 27, 2012 at 10:49 am

Vaughters says in Spanish:

07:18 – The decision to dope or not was always there throughout my career – to realise your dream, you have to dope, if you stop doping or don’t dope then your career will be over very quickly, you are not going to perform. I reached a point, at 29 years of age, very young for a professional cyclist, where I wanted to say goodbye to the sport, not to have that decision to dope or not with me every single day.

27:20 – David is a living example, still racing, for the youngsters on the team.

27:38 – The youngster say, look what has happened to this guy, he’s been in prison, he’s been banned for 2 years, lost all his money and look at him now.

nick September 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

Thanks Dave.
Maybe Joe needs to read the last bit for an answer to his question about ill gotten gains. Fortunately Cameron already answered about his commitment

MikeB September 28, 2012 at 2:37 am

Thanks Dave !

MikeB September 28, 2012 at 2:53 am

Maybe this is how it is going to be – the stories will ebb and flow – with hopefully the nett result that the sport moves slowly forward. I think the chance of a big tell-all is next to zero unless there is a world wide amnesty which indemnifies anyone from any prosecution or civil liability or removal of results. And UCI comments in response to JV’s piece – (” Oh really ? Well we would be interested in talking to those 4 riders ..blah blah “) – from an openess POV sends completely the wrong message to the professional peleton. No wonder people are keeping their traps firmly shut. This is completely in line however with the UCI strategy : its all in the past, lets move forward , stick your head up and we will do you over. Its in the UCI’s interest that people keep quiet funnily enough.

PS I have been speculating that the 30x comment by Tygart and maybe Armstrong has spilled the beans ? I can’t think of anything else which would be 30 x greater.

Another Dave September 28, 2012 at 10:22 am

Thanks insightful, for the cinics I wonder how they would cope if placed in the position of being given the chance to follow your dream to race Pro
David Millar has /is a true cyclist that all the youngsters can adhere to for the future of our EPIC sport

beev September 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm

When I read his book last year, I was left incredibly frustrated – simply at the amount of detail that was left out (as opposed to anything relating to the quality of the writing – which i thought was very good). Watching this documentary rekindled all this frustration as Millar again used his pet names for his doping colleagues and suppliers.

A lot has happened in the last year, and I feel we are now in a position for riders, both past and present, to name names! The possibility of legal repurcussions are very small – especially for someone prepared who’s prepared to risk several in this documentary alone.

So, how about it @millarmind – time to go on the record again and take this to a whole new level?

Sally September 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm

David Millar has already gone further than any current pro in what he’s written and what he’s said. So should be the whole shooting match fall on his shoulders? I think not.

beev September 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Agreed. In life there are leaders and followers. I think we all recognise what camp David is in, so why not go the whole hog….

Sally September 27, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Personally I think its time for others to step up

Salsiccia September 27, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Someone on the Bike Radar Forum put it far better than I ever could:

“Tomorrow, when you go to work gather everyone together. Bring all of your family and all of your friends as well. Then tell them all your secrets – we all have them – and all the secrets you have about everyone sitting there.

Until you can do that yourself, don’t demand others do it.”

GregK September 29, 2012 at 10:27 am

Both JV and DM have explained that their approach is to name names when talking to people who can do something useful with the information Eg. WADA. For me and the general public it makes really interesting reading and great gossip fodder to know all the names but it really serves no great purpose for the sport.
I think they have it right.

Erik September 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I am very fond of Millar and his outspoken admission. That said, it did take me a while to come around to him. I still clearly remember what he said before he was caught regarding his team’s doping problem. “It’s a Cofidis problem, not mine.”

Tom Knox September 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm

I think JV’s last statement said it all. I think David sheds a great deal of light on the culture of doping. He lets you understand how cyclists, with the strength of character it takes to succeed in the sport can make a decision that is contrary to everything they believe in. He is one of the 99% who doped in that era. If they thought others were clean the would never take advantage trough doping. Given an option like team Garmin today they would have taken it. But do not allow the 99% to blind us to the one percenters. They are the few rider with no morals or character that would doper even if the knew all their fellow competitors were clean. Perhaps even if they knew they could win clean. It just takes a few of these cheats to push the sport back to a darker era. And as the tide ebbs and flows between new drugs and techniques and advances it testing capable of detecting the methods there will always be windows where the sport is vulnerable.
This is why it is critical to hold a star of Lances magnitude accountable for his action. Because with out this accountability of unrepentant riders their victories will stand as a shining example that the system can be gamed. Cyclings image has been tarnish because the have taken the lead and shined the light where other dare not look. I think in the future competitors in all sports know the names to JV, David, Riis, and other who have given so much to turn the tide when other said it was impossible.

regsf September 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I’ll be curious to see if the UCI decides to sue him as they’ve done Kimmage. If not, it smells of a vendetta against only Kimmage. If yes, things will get very interesting quickly.

Gingerflash September 28, 2012 at 12:56 am

It always irritates to hear people like Vaughtrs say the choice was to dope or quit.

Matt Hayman put it nicely in the recent Sky documentary. He saw the doping, chose not to do it, chose to settle for a less glamourous, less lucrative but honest career as a domestique. How many other clean riders had humble but solid careers as domestiques or in lower level teams rather than believing there was a binary dope/quit decision to be made?

Despite what Vaughters said, there was always a middle ground between quitting and doping but it seems maybe his ego wouldn’t let him take it.

Many others have said the same about their choices, not just Vaughters. I just wish they’d be a little more honest and just say “I didn’t want to be middle of the pack; I doped to win, to get the bigger contract, the fame, the money”.

Tom Knox September 28, 2012 at 2:31 am

GF It really depended on the Team. Most teams of the era were involved is systemic doping. If a rider was not doping he was not part of the conspiracy and a risk of exposure. Even if a star the liability of a clean rider usually outweighed the benefit. With USPS you doped or went home. Darin Baker and Scott Mercier are rumored to be two of those the chose to go home. And we now know the story behind those who stayed. David is spot on, and proof a person can change.

Andy G September 28, 2012 at 4:04 am

+1 Millar
+1 JV
a beautiful telling of an ugly story.
Gracias.

Mendip5000 September 28, 2012 at 8:14 am

+1 summary Andy G!

Another Dave September 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

+1 Andy G

bikebb September 28, 2012 at 8:22 am

David Miller is a bloody hero! A gifted and great athlete – enters a culture of doping – where he has almost no choice – falls, BUT gets back up and makes cycling more real for all of us by riding clean and talking about it openly. You can see and hear it is not easy – still – but I appreciate and value what I saw in this bit. Thanks Inner Ring for posting this vid.

@bikebb

Gingerflash September 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm

“With USPS you doped or went home”

Or you went to another team. There were some clean teams, there were some clean riders. I do not accept it was as binary as “dope or quit racing”.

As for the liability of having a clean rider on a doping team, is that much worse than the liability of those riders who were asked to dope and had to leave when they refused? I’ve never heard Baker and Mercier telling their stories. Have they?

TGC September 29, 2012 at 3:27 am

Well, as a Spaniard living in the U.S., I have to say that I really enjoyed the documentary, if not for the reason of hearing Vaughters speak Spanish. Robinson has been a commentator on football in the Spanish tv and always a very enjoyable guy.
David Millar doped. It is over. Let’s go forward from now on.

blaireau October 5, 2012 at 3:21 am

Fascinating to see this portrait of David Millar in conjunction with ‘Racing Through the Dark’ – arguably one of the best books ever written on modern cycling. He is a very gifted writer and brave speaker – his recent public comments (reported in the Daily Telegraph), in which he puts strategic pressure on the UCI to open up their side of the story – show a fine sense judgement in how far to go, without directly provoking war or legal battles with the powers that be.

While I am grateful to see this documentary – there are too many talking heads and not enough recent narrative facts. Broadcast at the end of September (?) surely this should have included Millar’s fantastic contribution British Cycling and the Sky Team?

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