Saint Jonathan of Girona

Vaughters interview

It’s not easy being Jonathan Vaughters. The manager of Garmin-Cervélo has a lot on his plate given Matt White got ejected from the team. But in between managing one of the biggest squads around, he’s happy to chat via twitter and even visits the forum where often the loudest rage can drown out more nuanced voices. Indeed he gets a lot of abuse and he’s just blogged on about how difficult this can be:

“I’ve always been infuriated, saddened and hurt watching my friends, peers and myself get accused of everything short of murder on all that new media has to offer. Not by the journalists that have researched the story, no, rather the massacre occurs in the comments and forums that follow the story. The chattering, anonymous fans hurling comments and critiques are so hurtful. I can’t imagine saying such things to anyone, not even my worst enemy.

So this is just a quick word to say thanks to Sant Juan dels Girona, Jonathan Vaughters. It’s not just him but the whole team are willing to express themselves, whether via twitter or just for a chat before a race. I’ve put messages to him via Twitter and he’s been generous to reply.

A bee or a forum user?

A final thought
The “join the dots” mentality identified by Vaughters is understandable, that a rider making sudden gains late in a career can attract suspicion. After all Vaughters has had to fend off doubters over Wiggins in 2009. Scepticism is well-rooted in fans and managers alike. Time after time riders have come from nowhere to dominate a race, only to get busted by the anti-doping controls or even a police raid. Nobody can be blamed for taking a defensive stance.

But dialogue and transparency are part of the process to make the sport more approachable. It would be a shame if the same fans who cry omerta when some teams refuse to explain themselves manage to scare away one of the most approachable and friendly guys in the business.

8 thoughts on “Saint Jonathan of Girona”

  1. Since I reckon JV will read this, I’m just gonna shout it : JV you know I love you!
    And sometimes I think all the anger from fans build up for dushbags, whom are actually the total opposet than JV, but he’s the only one opening up…so BOOM in your face! Not very worthy for such devotion me thinks.

    Good look with keeping it real, cuz I do want clean cycling and do believe in you mr. Vaughters! (Tell Haussler I love him too…) much love!

  2. As I said in a previous comment on the Tondo article, I definitely painted him with a tainted brush just as JV did. And it was based on his association with Portuguese teams and then his seemingly out of nowhere rise with Cervelo TT at a relatively late age.

    Honestly, it is very difficult to avoid becoming completely jaded with professional cycling these days. The past few weeks have driven it home, and much of this is the cycling media. Every doping story becomes a feast on the main sites: Cyclingnews, Velonation, VeloNews. Then each of those sites has a forum or comment section that only serves to wind things up even more. Every now and then I find I have to take step back, stop reading too many doping stories, and stay away from forums and comments. Now that racing season is under way, there is actual racing to watch and read about and much of it is being done by clean riders. An important point to remember in the current climate.

  3. While I applaud people like JV for spinning as much plates as possible and keeping a close watch to all kind of opinions, there’s also a flipside to his blog entry, to which I will go into in just a mo. Guilty as charged, the mirror he put up to himself has a back side and it’s up to each viewer to see his (or her) reflection, or not. It’s very human to join the dots. We all do it, day in they out. There’s no capital crime commited while doing so, but it shows courage to admit to oneself that he or she misjudged a situation in the past. To do it publically, well.. it sets an example. It’s what leaders do. It’s inspiring.

    On the flipside.. told ya there was a flipside, didn’t I 🙂 There’s a flipside to the content of the misjudged situation. The applaudable fact that Xavi Tondo turned in some mischieves, doesn’t give him carte blanche, does it? Does it turn Tondo into a Saint? I think it’s common sense what Tondo did, but it only goes so far. He didn’t to it for publicity, but I reckon it’s a sign of the (hopefully) slowly shifting morale to moral-issues in Spain.
    I’m sure JV is fully aware of this and it’s not up to me to pre-judge or correct his blog (I wouldn’t dare right now 😉 but I’d also like to see it mentioned. Houray for Tondo, sorry for the misjudgement, a firm pat on the back but I don’t build a pedastal just yet.

  4. In response to all three comments I’d just say he’s no saint but he’s a long way ahead of some others. There’s a cultural thing here, some French managers are trying as hard to run a clean team but they don’t communicate well, even the fax machine is a modern invention. JV is very good at getting the message out.

  5. As I don’t consider myself anonymous discussion hater, I feel entitled to get clarification to several inconsistencies in Mr JV’s blog. These are as follows:

    1.One thing is to connect dots when you are just a fan (regardless how insightful) and another thing when you are an insider (being the owner and the manager of one of the major pro teams, not to say an expro = lead role/keyplayer). As Mr JV is a lead role/keyplayer and he doubts someone like Mr Tondo’s (or any pro rider regularly tested and never testing positive) integrity, any reasonable person would assume that the pro cycling system is corrupt based on the fact that even the insiders doubt the current anti-doping system (not only controls but also the biological passport). Furthermore, as Mr Tondo rode for Cervelo last year (understand: the same team that merged into Garmin recently), I found it very strange that Mr JV had not considered Mr Tondo reliable before last week. If I were Mr JV and had doubts about Mr Tondo, that would have been the first thing I would ask Mr Hushovd (understand: Mr Integrity) during the merger negotiations (In plain words: Listen Thor, do you believe Tondo?). Or should we believe (understand: we = the fans) that the insiders only talk chicks and bikes during training camps and do not exchange the war stories?
    2.Mr Tondo did a noble thing. Just to make my position clear: following Mr Tondo last two years, I believe in his integrity (understand: Mr Tondo is a fair guy). Nevertheless, considering the facts of the story (drugs offered by a stranger via e-mail), I do not see why we should consider this extraordinary or special. I believe that any reasonable doper would act similarly (as such email has police agent provocateur written all over it). Considering this, I would like to ask Mr JV (as insider/keyplayer) to clarify: A: Are current pros so corrupt (and unreasonable) that Mr JV finds Mr Tondo’s attitude so remarkable that it deserves whole two blog pages at cyclingnews? And if no, why is he writing about such a banality and not concentrating on the real issue (i.e. the insider view on doping and how doping should be eliminated/prosecuted/penalized)?
    3.Connecting my dots relating to the last week revelations: a) Spanish Cycling Federation exonerates Contador and unprecedentedly breaks the strict liability strictly followed in previous doping cases. b) Girona doping gang is revealed by Spanish police. c) Girona doping gang appears to be a bunch of amateur thieves trying to sell stolen drugs via email. d) Mr JV posting a blog on the Girona gang without mentioning Contador’s case. If I connect a), b) and c), it appears that Spanish authorities are trying to persuade us that they are really really fighting doping and the Contador verdict is fully in line with such an approach (for purist commentators: I understand that Spanish Cycling Federation and Spanish Police are two independent systems, who should act independently, thus not coordinating their actions. But I believe, that in Spain, i.e. land of sport heroes/gods and doping culture, they are coordinated). If I connect a), b), c) and d), I believe that Mr JV is applying the same strategy as the Spanish authorities, i.e. he making (what appears)strong anti/-doping statement (Girona/Tondo case) based on negligible events (from a broader perspective) hoping that we (the fans) would be satisfied and would somehow overlook the key issues: any reasonable person concludes that Contador doper during 2010 TDF (it is very unlikely that you can trace Spanish beef contaminated by Clenbuterol). I believe that we should not be satisfied, Mr JV as an insider/keyplayer should provide a clear statement on Contador! Otherwise, I consider his blog just a distraction!
    4.The famous Landis interview. Mr JV appeared as a positive figure. But with a lot of insider jokes (information) that he was not willing/able to disclose. I am wondering, why Mr JV has not made any relevant statement in this respect, i.e. full disclosure explaining all the facts raised in that interview? Consequently, regardless how Mr JV/Garmin-Cervelo is trying to be transparent, they are not transparent enough as they obey OMERTA! In other words, if Mr JV is secretly joking about blood doping during Armstrong’s TDF era (via traceble emails), he is obliged to tell the whole truth! Otherwise, how can we believe in the transparency/integrity of Garmin-Cervelo Team?

  6. I find it very interesting that so many, especially someone so entrenched in the highest levels of the sport, would correlate ‘turned in dealers’ to ‘not on drugs’.

    There could be all sorts of reasons a rider who uses PEDs would reveal a dealer. The dealer could be useful to his rivals, maybe they aren’t taking adequate care/discretion and would be a likely first domino to fall, maybe he is buddies with one dealer and was limiting the competition.

  7. connetting the dots.
    he worked side by side with the epo magician (but also excellent scientist) prof. conconi practicing omologous transfusions to the hour-recordman Moser in 80ies, he was the riccò’s trainer, he was also the trainer of mick rogers (…) and started a collaboration with the ethic champions of lampre team, can one assume that professor aldo sassi was a doper?
    as a child he had him as godfather and then, as a young cycling promise and after as a pro rider, chose as his personal doctor him who was radieted by the national federation for doping; he was the best in the classic and then a consistent giro winner, but didn’t race the worlds in stuttgart having recieved a three months ban in relation to the trial against the same doctor; never loved by aso, he is famous for his “angelical pee” after an incredible hard stage at the giro.
    can we assume that danilo di luca has doped?
    in this case we have more than one positive sample to testify it, but if we couldn’t trace the c.e.r.a. at all by now?
    who was david millar’s roommate in cofidis?
    it’s so general the thought of the saint, and even so much troubled the cycling, that one can also think that xavi tondo act only to get the so wanted clean shape, as well as our saint claim for him now strongly. that’s the problem.
    sure he his really ahead but, it seems, like could be L.A., “the revolutionary”, after his came back in ’99.

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