Fifteen years after quitting cycling amid a doping scandal, Geneviève Jeanson is now an ambassador to the organization Sport’Aide, according to a report in La Presse. The group aims to help young people in sport and prevent violence and abuse, assistance that Jeanson never had when she raced. The former pro cyclist was abused and manipulated by her former coach in the teens, and struggled with the repercussions for years.
It’s been quite a year for the former junior world champion. She made up with her formal arch-rival Lyne Bessette after a decades-long feud. During their racing days, the two pro cyclists would argue with each other both off and on their bikes.
When they both retired from cycling, Bessette was still upset over Jeanson’s doping past. However, once Jeanson opened up more to the world about her abusive coach who manipulated her into using EPO, things changed. Jeanson even went as far as saying that her doping positive meant she could turn her life around. “I swear, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “Failing this doping test relieved me. It meant I could finally stop cycling and leave my coach. My life was so difficult at the time that it was only a small inconvenience in comparison. I was ready to see my name sullied forever rather than continue living with it.”
Ultimately, Bessette reached out to her, but it took some time for them to get ahold of each other. Now the two have them have been gravel racing in Quebec together and become close friends.
On Wednesday, Bessette texted Jeanson to congratulate her on her new role with Sport’Aide.
Earlier this year, the two met at a race in Quebec after having made amends through texts and Facebook messages. But Jeanson was still a little nervous before their first meeting in years.
“Meeting her again was so easy and relaxed, as if we’d been friends all our lives. I was nervous because a lot of things happened. She, too, is a victim of my coach. In those years she had a lot of bad experiences, and anger, because of him. The fact that I fell into doping products, all that, it’s him, I didn’t have much of a choice.”
During the ride Jeanson tried to explain to Bessette something she’d wanted to for years.”Lyne, you might never have forgiven me, I would have understood and I would have loved you the same. The fact that you were able to write to me, that you are happy to see me, I can’t believe it. I would have really understood that you hate me for the rest of your life.”
Jeanson said that during the 130 km race, where she finished just behind Bessette, she was exhausted like she’d never been during a race. But it wasn’t just the physicality of it all, but that she was able to put behind the past.
“A big part of it was due to all the emotion.”