Saturday 20 January 2018

Cycling: Sacking dopers could hurt battle against drugs, says Armstrong whistleblower

Nick Mulvenney

AUSTRALIA’S decision to get rid of officials who admitted to doping could hamper the fight against the use of banned substances in the sport, according to Lance Armstrong whistle-blower Jonathan Vaughters.

Cycling Australia sacked elite men's road co-ordinator Matt White last week after he admitted to using drugs while riding for Armstrong's US Postal team.

White was followed out the door last Friday by CA vice-president Stephen Hodge, who resigned after admitting that he too had doped during his career in the European peloton.

Vaughters was one of 11 former Armstrong team mates to testify to the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) against the seven-times Tour de France champion, who is expected to be stripped of those titles by the UCI later today.

American Vaughters, who has admitted to doping in his own career, said CA's decisions were wrong as the experience of having been pressured into using banned substances could be key in Australia's battle to rid the sport of doping.

"You're throwing away your greatest asset in the fight against doping, you're throwing away the greatest asset your young riders are going to have," he said.

"When you take away someone who had to deal with the emotional stress, the emotional duress of having to eventually just be beaten down to the point where they said, 'OK, fine, I'll do it because I don't want to give up the sport that I love,' you take that away, and you're making the problem worse."

Vaughters last year sacked White from the Garmin-Sharp team, which he set up with a clear anti-doping philosophy, for recommending a doctor who had been linked with doping to one of his riders.

Nevertheless, Vaughters said he never doubted White's position on doping.

"I fired him because he made a very poor judgment while he was on our team," Vaughters added.

"But I would never fire him, or even consider it, for what he did before. Because his stance as far as anti-doping was concerned was always very clear, in that he acknowledged that he did it to me privately and to the riders privately as well."

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