Sydney - The Australian cycling fraternity on Friday closed ranks around retired rider Stuart O'Grady after he admitted to using the banned blood-doping substance EPO in the run-up to the 1998 Tour de France.
O'Grady, a six-time Olympian who this week finished a record-equalling 17 Tours, has not responded to a demand from the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) that he resign from its 10-member Athletes' Commission to atone for using erythropoietin (EPO).
His Australia-based ORICA-GreenEDGE Team issued a statement saying "the past shouldn't be allowed to tarnish his entire career and his integrity as a person."
Last year GreenEdge sacked Matt White as its sports director after he admitted doping when he was on Lance Armstrong's US Postal team but reinstated him after six months.
GreenEDGE lauded O'Grady as "an advocate for a clean sport."
Cycling Australia chief executive Graham Fredericks described O'Grady as "one of Australia's most enduring road riders who appears to have made a poor decision which will regrettably now have an impact on the legacy of his career."
O'Grady has remained silent on his Twitter feed and could not be reached for comment.
The AOC held firm despite the support for O'Grady, with President John Coates demanding the cyclist resign from the athletes' panel and saying Australians "are entitled to be angry knowing that they had supported an athlete who had cheated."
O'Grady, who could be stripped of his Olympic medals, confessed to drug use after announcing his retirement this week.
He told the Adelaide Advertiser he had sourced EPO himself and took it without telling his French team.
O'Grady won gold as a track cyclist at the 2004 Athens Games and in 2007 won the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic.
"All I've ever wanted in my career was to make Mum and Dad and my family proud," he told the paper. "You win Olympics, Paris-Roubaix and now all of that is going to be tainted by this action and I wish it could be changed but it can't."