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Wonderful contributor's image tainted

He was a mentor to generations of Canberra cyclists but Stephen Hodge shocked the capital's tight-knit riding community when he dropped a bombshell on the sport yesterday, admitting he had taken performance-enhancing drugs during his career.

Hodge has resigned as Cycling Australia vice-president.

The Lance Armstrong drug scandal has gripped the world for the past two weeks, but it hit Canberra when Hodge confessed to using EPO between 1989 and his retirement in 1996.

One of the most recognisable figures in Canberra cycling, he is an ACT Hall of Fame member and the criterium at Mt Stromlo is named after him. Along with Michael Rogers, he was considered the capital's best cycling export.

But his image has been tainted.

Hodge worked with aspiring road and track cyclists. He was an inspiration and worked closely with organisations and helped the ACT government in 2004 to design a 1200-metre track at Mt Stromlo.


Canberra track cyclist Daniel Ellis looked up to Hodge as a junior and described him as a "massive superstar" and a "big idol".

Ellis, a Beijing Olympian, won the 2004 Canberra Cycling Club's Stephen Hodge Achievement Award.

"His personality towards myself off the bike was amazing. I don't think my outlook on him [as a person will change], but his success on the bike will change," he said.

"Tactically he always had some very good points, but obviously you have a second thought about the results that happened."

Ellis only heard about Hodge's drug confession when contacted by The Canberra Times.

"The whole Lance Armstrong thing, that's been disappointing because he's such an influential guy within cycling itself," Ellis said.

"For it to come back a lot closer to home with Stephen, it's just on a whole new level, on a personal level where I did know him quite well and looked up to all his results when he was racing, and for this to come out, that's the biggest disappointment."

It is not known how Hodge's admission might affect his Hall of Fame status or the name of the track honouring him.

"Doping at all levels of sport is wrong, and I am disappointed in this news," ACT Sport Minister Andrew Barr said.

ACT Sport chief Mark Cartwright said there had been no discussion about Hodge's Hall of Fame eligibility, but conceded that would likely happen.

"We have a lot of respect for what he has done on the bike and he has been a wonderful contributor to the sport," Cartwright said.

"I was shocked, it has only surfaced today. ACT Sport will need to consider this information, but now it's too early for us to make a sweeping statement."

Hodge has been instrumental in the development of Canberra's junior cyclists. He started Squadra H – a program that  offers services including cycling training, as well as motivational and leadership presentations.

But now he will be viewed in a different light.

Cyclists from around the world have started revealing details of their drug use. ? Hodge's announcement comes two days after Cycling Australia sacked Matt White from a part-time role after he ? confessed to doping during his pro career.

Hodge, 51, had a nine-year professional road career from 1987 and said he took part in doping for the last six of those years so he could gain team selection to big races such as the Tour de France.