<i>The following is a message from Levi Leipheimer that was sent to the editorial staff of The Press Democrat regarding the recent news from the US Anti-Doping Agency:</i>

Dear current and past GranFondo participants and supporters,

Thank you for helping to make this year's GranFondo such a success. You and the GranFondo represent the very best things about cycling. You and the GranFondo mean more to me and Odessa than I can express.

I am writing to personally explain the events of the last two days in my own words and with my own voice. Much has and will be written about the USADA Reasoned Decision published on Oct. 10. On Wednesday I released a formal statement published in the Wall Street Journal taking responsibility for my use of performance enhancing methods in a period which ended over five years ago. For this I have accepted a six-month ban from competitive cycling. I truly regret letting you down.

Jason Gay, a writer for the Wall Street Journal writing about the USADA decision said; "This is what honesty often looks like: messy and painful." And he is right. This admission was terrifying to confront, not because I was afraid of the truth — the truth meant a better sport, after all — but because I was afraid of how those I cared about would react. I didn't know whether they would be willing to understand why I made these choices and whether they would continue to invest and believe in the good that Odessa and I have tried to do with the notoriety this career has provided us.

There have been many changes for the better in cycling over the past five years, and I am committed to doing what I can to make these changes permanent. I don't want today's young riders to be discouraged from following their dreams. I want to do what I can to ensure that future riders are not faced with the same dilemmas I was.

Regardless of the mistakes I've made, nothing lessens my commitment to cycling and the good it can do. I hope you understand that the GranFondo is not about me or my racing accolades, my successes or failures. It's about much more than that.

I hope you believe in this as I do, and that you'll join us again next year on Oct. 5 to share in the appreciation of something that has brought people together from around the world. I hope you look forward to sharing that moment with me and others as much I do.


Levi Leipheimer

Resources To Help

North Bay Suicide Prevention 24-hour hotline: 855-587-6373

NAMI Sonoma County warmline: 707-527-6655

Sonoma County Psychiatric Emergency Services: 707-576-8181

For information on Sonoma County support groups, call 707-527-6655 or go to namisonomacounty.org