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Hodge sign is 'wrong'

Date

Chris Wilson

Mountain Bike Australia president Russell Baker at Stromlo Forest Park next to a  tribute to Australian representative cyclist, Stephen Hodge. The criterium circuit is named in Hodge's honour.

Mountain Bike Australia president Russell Baker at Stromlo Forest Park next to a tribute to Australian representative cyclist, Stephen Hodge. The criterium circuit is named in Hodge's honour. Photo: Graham Tidy

Mountain Bike Australia president Russell Baker wants the name of confessed drug cheat Stephen Hodge removed from Canberra's Stromlo Forest Park criterium circuit and has begun petitioning for Australian sports administrators to sign declarations that they have never been involved in doping.

Hodge, who has confessed to doping during his professional cycling career and has stood down from the board of Cycling Australia, this week had his name removed from the ACTSport Hall of Fame at his request.

But former ACT chief minister Jon Stanhope has volunteered his support for Hodge, claiming the Stromlo cycling track should remain named in Hodge's honour because he had been the ''driving force that brought it to fruition''.

Baker, however, said the ACT government would be endorsing doping in sport by keeping Hodge's name on the circuit.

Baker's opinion was supported by an online poll of more than 600 readers, with only 27 per cent of respondents claiming Hodge deserved to have the Stromlo track still named after him.

''I don't think [the ACT government] should be sending a message that it's okay to be a drug cheat, because to my mind, as long as they name that track after him, that's [the message] they are sending,'' Baker said.

Mountain biking is often an entry to road cycling, with Australia's Tour de France champion Cadel Evans starting in the sport. As such, Baker said it was essential the sport declare a united stance against all doping.

Baker has written to Mountain Bike Australia members this week outlining a proposed constitutional change that would require all associates - including committee, staff, selectors, coaches, managers and contractors - to sign a written declaration that they have never been involved in doping. Mountain Bike Australia is seeking legal advice from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the Australian Sports Commission before a special general meeting on December 8.

The move also comes after Matt White resigned from his role as co-ordinator of Cycling Australia's road racing program, having admitted he was part of cycling's doping culture during his riding career.

In the letter to Mountain Bike Australia members, Baker wrote he abhors doping in sport and that the sport needed to provide transparent development for young riders.

''When parents are looking at a sport their kids are going to play, they look at the reputation of the sport, they look at the behaviours that are exhibited in that sport. I'd like to think those behaviours should be exhibited by the leadership and management of that sport,'' Baker said.

''I think some form of declaration is a starting point. There might be those out there that say this is just window-dressing, but it's a starting point.

''We already require a similar commitment from our riders when they are selected to national teams and development squads.''

Baker knows Hodge personally and said he admired his contribution to the sport post his professional riding career.

But he said it was inappropriate to have signage at the Stromlo track which spoke glowingly of Hodge's cycling career - competing in 10 world championships and making six Tour de France appearances.

''I would be the first to applaud John Stanhope's leadership and Stephen Hodge's post-cycling work,'' Baker said.

''However, the signage at Stromlo Forest Park refers extensively to Stephen Hodge's cycling career and his race performances, which are now tarnished by his own revelations.''

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