Thoughts on Vaughters Interview – Part I

Friday, 3 December 2010

I’m going to take a quick look at Anthony Tan’s interview with Jonathan Vaughters. “JV” is now running Garmin-Cervélo, a squad that has gone from a small curiosity into one of the biggest outfits in the sport.

Postcard from the past

The team is known for its firm anti-doping stance, one of the few squads that puts it head above the parapet and shouts about doing it clean. Some squads have similar values but tend to keep quieter, preferring not to get tangled in the sticky web of ethics. It’s a tricky line, especially since Vaughters rode with the infamous US Postal squad and is linked to rumours of doping. JV has never admitted to using banned substances and methods but has dropped hints that are very clear. Here’s the latest one, as he recounts his win in the Dauphiné’s mountain time trial up Mont Ventoux in a stunning time:

Well, for sure, it was the best form of my life as a bike rider, but I wasn’t… I was just sort of… I will leave it at this; I wasn’t overly pleased with that victory. It was interesting to me. It answered a lot of questions. But it wasn’t the most ecstatic moment of my life by any means.

Perhaps I have a tendency to search for hidden meanings but the lack of joy suggests Vaughters wasn’t pleased at the methods used to win this race. It seems obvious to me what he is saying, namely that the result wasn’t just down to his legs and lungs but the team doctor as well.

Open and Transparent?
Which leads to the ethical dilemma. If he is ready to leave whopper-sized clues about his past, why is he not willing to actually state what happened? Isn’t he supposed to be Mr Clean?

Time changes many things

For me I think he’s taking the right path. It might not satisfy some – and if he did cheat, perhaps he should be sanctioned – but realistically almost everyone in that period was using banned methods. In the ethics of all this if we assume many were up to no good, a test is whether people have moved on from that period. By running a clean team, Vaughters is buying redemption in bulk. He’s probably a decade in advance of many other team managers.

Irish Peloton December 3, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Couple of quotes from Vaughters just after he won the Ventoux TT, one from Cycle Sport, the other from Cycling News.

"I said, out loud, I was going to win that stage"

"I am not really surprised by my performance. I am both a climber and a rouleur. It will be very nice to be wearing the leader's jersey tomorrow. Especially when it is my birthday."

Sounds like he had huge confidence in the drugs he'd taken!

Jay T. December 3, 2010 at 4:30 pm

I agree that it's a little funky that he hasn't just come clean, but I think when speaking of the USPS team, especially at this time of the investigation, it's a huge decision to make a claim like that. The obvious hints are a satisfactory medium. He was certainly not the only one and I agree that he is doing more than anyone I can think of now to make a clean sport. He'll probably just come out with it one day, but I for one say – Who cares?

Vaughn Trevisanut December 3, 2010 at 9:23 pm

The greatest thing that Vaughters could do now is come clean. It would be a great service to the past, present and future of cycling.
Some would say he would risk everything… I don't agree it would clear the air of all the innuendo of a era in cycling and open the door to the new perhaps golden era of clean sport.
Continuing to tease the public does little good and in the end may harm his reputation and projects.
I wouldn't as any rider to fall on the sword for the sport but now as a person at the front of clean cycling his confessions would be openly welcomed by most fans.
At some point we have to put this era in the books and move on and that will take some being incredibly honest with us who love the sport.
Come on Vaughters tell it like it is let us get off the merry go round and know the truth.
You won't just set yourself free but you might set all of us free.

TheInnerRing December 3, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Not so sure Vaughn. Say he admitted it, then he has to explain where he got it from. Did he know of others using? What about the team as a whole.

He'd reawaken a pack of sleeping dogs. As much as I'd like to see riders held to account, the risk is he'd get buried under the pressure and we'd ultimately lose one of the good guys. Risky.

maryka December 5, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Are Garmin really clean though? I'd really like to believe it because I like the team. But there are some shall we say surprising performances in recent years (Vandevelde in 2008, Wiggins in 2009, Hesjedal in 2010). And Vaughters comes across more salesman than priest.

It's an honest question as a cycling fan as I think we can all say we're pretty sick of being told up and down that X, Y or Z is clean and then finding out they aren't. Is it possible to be clean and finish where Garmin finishes (top 10 in grand tours)? Surely the non-dopers in the peloton are finishing somewhere in 100th placings?

So are they just really clean and talented, coming into their own at a time when everyone else is (theoretically) forced to clean up, or are they just really good at making us believe they are?

Buckwheat December 5, 2010 at 7:20 pm

He has to come clean period. Otherwise this nonsense never ends.

TheInnerRing December 5, 2010 at 7:24 pm

maryka: if that's true then we might as well give up following the pro sport, or just accept it as a circus-style event like a wrestling "show". Certainly the team goes a long way to help the riders perform.

Buckwheat: the trouble is that if he were to confess, then this would be the beginning of a huge headache. Like I say in the comments above, he would suddenly face many more questions and he couldn't answer them all.

Rob H December 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

But preserving the Omerta for the good of the sport, is that not exactly what so many others have been criticized for?

You could equally say that if LA were to confess then that "would be the beginning of a huge headache", but I don't see many people in favour of him keeping quiet / Novitsky going away.

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