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Gallagher owns up to cheating ahead of Rio

AAP logoAAP 5/09/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Australian Paralympic cyclist Michael Gallagher has issued an emotional apology and admitted he crossed a "dark line" after being kicked out of the Rio Games team for doping.

The two-time gold medallist was slapped with a provisional suspension when he returned a positive sample to erythropoietin (EPO) at an out-of-competition test at a training camp in July in Italy.

The 37-year-old blamed depression, pressure to live up to past performances and the need pay bills for using performance-enhancing drugs.

"Rather than seek help I self-medicated to motivate, crossed the dark line, took short cuts and cheated," Gallagher posted on Facebook.

"I had many ways of justifying this use for Para sport which in hindsight were merely just dark, paranoid and selfish justifications to talk myself into it."

Unable to train like he once did, the Scottish-born rider admitted to using illegal substances in the lead-up to the Para road nationals and track world championships this year, and then again before a mid-year training camp in Europe.

Gallagher said he was seeking help and apologised to his family, coach, teammates, competitors, sponsors, and the Australian Paralympic Committee.

"You guys don't deserve a link to any of my stupid actions. I have let you guys down and I hope I have not lost some good mates," he said.

"Lastly, the greater cycling community and those who looked up to me, especially the youngsters. I was in a role model position, whether I was fit to be there or not."

Australian team chef de mission Kate McLoughlin said Gallagher's admission brought up raw emotions again for a team still in shock.

"The fact that he's owning it is pretty impressive, so respect for that," she said.

McLoughlin urged the athletes to now focus on competition.

"This is a one-off, it's an athlete who's made a really bad choice... but we're moving on," she said.

Gallagher - who is a C5 classified athlete - won gold in the individual pursuit at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics.

His ban was announced just a few hours after an Australian team numbering more than 170 athletes flew out of Sydney.

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