Having battled my own demons over the past few years, I find this story to be really sad … I know that I gave Tyler a lot of shit on my blog over the past few years, but even so, he always struck me as one of the most gracious people in professional cycling; especially after Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah last year when he was surrounded by fans and media.
American national road champion Tyler Hamilton announced his retirement from cycling on Friday after confirming that he tested positive for a banned substance in an herbal supplement he used to treat depression.
The 38-year-old Hamilton confirmed that he had tested positive for Dehydroepiandrosterone DHEA a multi-functional steroid he said was in an herbal remedy he took after he had stopped using prescription anti-depressants.
Hamilton said his depression was initially diagnosed in 2003, a year that on the surface “was the best year of my life.”
“Depression has been in my family for a long time,” Hamilton said. “I sought treatment in September of 2003.”
Since then, Hamilton said he’d been using prescription anti-depressants, none of which are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. However, after his recent divorce, his mother’s diagnosis of cancer and other personal issues, Hamilton said he began to experience more severe symptoms and first attempted to double his dosage of those prescriptions.
Feeling the side effects, he then stopped taking the drugs entirely, which further exacerbated his problems with depression. Hamilton said he turned to a “homeopathic” remedy ─ Mitamins Advanced Formula ─ that included herbs, such as St. John’s wort, and DHEA.
“I took a banned substance so I need to take whatever penalty they will give me and move forward,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton suggested that he knew that Mitamins Advanced Formula contained DHEA, which he also knew was banned, when he took it on February 8 and 9, but was acting out of a sense of desperation.
“Anything you can do — even if it was hitting yourself over the head with a hammer — to make yourself feel better, you’d do it,” he said.
“Did I take it for performance-enhancement? Absolutely not. You can look at my results at the Tour of California.”
Hamilton said he decided to retire to deal with issues related to his illness, and that his 2004 suspension and the possibility of a lifetime ban for a second offense were not factors in his decision.
“Today is about my leaving the sport and to talk about my depression, not the past,” he said. “I dont want to talk about that anymore. Its about moving forward and taking care of myself.”
Fare well, Tyler … I hope that you find a resolution to your problems, and that happiness finds you in your future.