After Confessing, Will Vaughters Leave the Sport?

Jonathan Vaughters, manager of the Garmin-Sharp team has confessed to doping in the New York Times. In fact it was the second time he’s confessed, only this time it was unambiguous. Now he’s made it clear, a ban from team management is possible yet unlikely.

Back in November 2010 Vaughters gave an interview to and recounted his win in a mountain time trial on Mont Ventoux during the 1999 Dauphiné:

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.

I wrote about the interview and them, as now, believed this was a whopper-size hint about using EPO whilst at US Postal. But it still required us to read between the lines. Now this time there’s no coded language:

I chose to dope. I am sorry for that decision, and I deeply regret it

For those saying a line in a newspaper is one thing but full details of the mechanics from sourcing the substances to determining dosages is another then your wish is probably fulfilled. It is reasonable to assume that the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has been given all the relevant information as part of its investigation into the so-called “US Postal conspiracy”.

Why now?
Some will say it is all too late. Why did he not go public until now? The answer is obvious: he would have been buried alive. There was no incentive in the past to speak out, it brought way more costs than benefits. Look at every single whistle-blower, far from sounding alarm they set off lawsuits, bans, negative comments and more. Ask Christophe Bassons, Filippo Simeoni, Jörg Jaksche, Floyd Landis and more. We can at least salute Vaughters for acting in other ways, notably creating a team that prides itself in riding clean.

But now USADA is on the case and this changes a lot. Several former riders have given testimony to the US agency. Indeed this is why the confession is now public because if many in the cycling world could read between the lines the readership of the New York Times is quite different. Plus it’s always better to put your story out first rather than wake up one morning to find negative headlines.

Vaughters banned?
An admission counts as an “anti-doping violation” under the WADA code and Vaughters is still a licence holder in the sport therefore we could expect a ban to be imposed. Note USADA probably learned of things well before we read the NYT so the clock has been ticking well before Sunday’s piece. Here’s the UCI rulebook, parroting the WADA Code:

Methods of establishing facts and presumptions
23. Facts related to anti-doping rule violations may be established by any reliable means, including admissions.

In other words an admission is equal to a positive test. However there is a limitation to past activities of eight years under the WADA Code. When Bjarne Riis confessed in 2007 he didn’t get a ban because of this. However as we see with USADA, they have stated the statute of limitations does not apply when investigating the “US Postal conspiracy” because of a precedent where the clock can be reset, although is still disputed. So if USADA are going after the ex-US Postal riders then a ban seems a possibility although perhaps Vaughters was not actively involved in the conspiracy, therefore he is outside the statute of limitations and thus safe.

What would Vaughters do during this period? Twitter might give us an answer:

A team manager applying for business school? Don’t read too much into it. The application form would be a good read.

A ban is possible but not certain and it seems the UCI isn’t trying to seize control. Many other team managers have made similar confessions or were even caught. As NYT piece makes clear cycling is Vaughters’ life and it would be hard to imagine him walking away, especially since he’s got a big team to run.

An article about ideas to clean up sport for the future only highlights the past. There are many views on Vaughter’s confession, from welcoming his move to a wait and see all the way to declaring he has no place with young riders. Decades ago French writer Antoine Blondin once wrote about doping as the “dark side of the moon”, complete with “seas of doubt” and “craters of suspicion.” He had a point, things are distant and unknown, so a range of opinions are likely. This variety reflects the incomplete nature of the confession: it is late and buried in the NYT piece. This is an observation, not a judgement.

Vaughter’s media-friendly stance means he stands out and he’s managed usefully to frame his “I cheated” story within a tale of helping the sport clean up. But it’s still just a short stage in a long story. I suspect it’s a relief for Vaughters to finally put this out in the open after dropping giant hints but this is a story of a systemic problem and not one man, nor one team. For now it’s USADA and the arbitration panel and not the NYT that matters.

94 thoughts on “After Confessing, Will Vaughters Leave the Sport?”

  1. I assume this one line was used because it will all come out in the USADA arbitration and its better to say it yourself and I imagine he can’t or is unwilling to say more in the press before the end of the process.

    As you mention in the article it’s not about one man or team every confession is a step forward however late/timed.

  2. I hope there is no ban, but Vaughters seems like a smart guy and I bet he would do well in other enterprises if he had to take a hiatus from cycling. If that occurs I hope he doesn’t find so much success that he wouldn’t return to cycling as soon as possible. (selfish, I know, but I think he is good for the sport.)

  3. The confessing is a good thing for Vaughters, on a personal level, but very bad for professional cycling as one more key figure is now forced to step forward however much too late, for what ever reason, but luckily there’ll soon be no more green bottles sitting on the wall…

    Damage control in the medias is build around: maximum disclosure – minimum delay, maybe he didn´t pick up on his way. I have to say that I am not impressed.

    When living on cold water in Spain (NOTE: he must have been the first and only person in history chasing a lifetime dream to ever have done this) he must have picked up the old Spanish saying: Mi cule es el primero! Can´t help wondering the odd timing.

    I guess we will soon have one more give away book comp again!

    Good boy – sad day.

    • I disagree. It’s not bad that he has admitted it; everyone pretty much knew this anyway. His entire era is tainted. What it does do is add weight to his claim that he wants to clean up cycling.

      He has shed a light on the mental process that leads some of the dopers to start, and he has argued for enforcement in a way designed to appeal to the athletes themselves as well as fans and leaders. All while admitting something everyone already knew.

      Nothing wrong with this at all.

        • He did speak out – he retired early … that was pretty much all one could do to make a statement at the time … He then planned and schemed the most intelligent way of changing the world – by starting and building a team built around solid core philosophies that ensured a cyclist could live an honest life free from the pressure to choose …

  4. Vaughters is an assett to the sport. Speaking out about doping is still a rarity in the cycling world, It takes some guts to do it and Garmin lead the way thanks to Vaughters and David Millar. The more openly they talk the more I like them and the better it is for the sport. Long may Vaughters candid nature continue, and long may he continue to be a valuable assett to the world of cycling and it’s fight against doping.

  5. Who makes the determination or imposes the ban: UCI, WADA, or USADA? If WADA or USADA, then it seems that his (assumed) cooperation with WADA in the US Postal investigation could get him a reduced sentence.

  6. The rule that resets the statute of limitations requires fraud. So Armstrong might be vulnerable to it (if he lied during the SCA litigation, or similarly, and if that counts for the purposes of the rule) but I can’t see why Vaughters would be.
    Also, Vaughters addressed the ban issue when he did his twitter confession, but he did so ambiguously. Someone asked if it worried him, and he answered no. But you can’t tell if he means he’ll be fine if it happens, or if he means he’s confident it won’t happen. He’s obviously given it some thought though.

    • Exactly. I’ve said/hinted at this in the text above.

      If there was a conspiracy, I’ve not seen anything to say the riders were part of it with the exception of rider/team owner Armstrong, as you say.

      • What happens if Lance is shown to have doped, but not shown to have conspired to commit fraud? Would he then be a proven doper, but because of the statute of limitations allowed to keep his 7 TdF titles? Would he be immediately free to resume triathlons?

        Just wondering. Thnx.

        • If conspiracy/fraud could not be proved, they could only go back 8 years. Not sure about the ban, though. I expect it would be as 2 year as other riders have been disciplined in the past. They usually start the 2 years from the confession, or the judgement.

          All that being said, I don’t think it’s likely he gets off on fraud, but stuck with doping charge.

  7. The romantic in me wants to believe that this is another step in cleaning up the sport and enhancing Garmin’s image as the ‘good guys’ of the peloton. But the cynic just sees this as a cheap PR stunt pre-empting the news that will break once the USPS case goes to arbitration.

    Ironically, due to his social media presence there is always a lack of clarity in assessing JV, as he often comes across as ‘one of us’, while Riis etc are disconnected from online discussion and are easier to vilify and castigate.

  8. “Salute Vaughters”? “Applaud his courage”?
    BS. Lets applaud the guys and gals who, 15 years ago
    NO to PEDs and are now running bike shops/ cycletours/ coffeeshops/ other businesses /raising a family rather than using their illegally gained fame to garner millions of dollars in sponsorship for their program. Dopers dont just cheat their athletic counterparts, they rob people of opportunities deep into their post career.

      • I agree and know a few sad tales of people who didn’t pursue their dreams because once they got backstage they discoverd the show was rotten.

        But also it’s never black and white, the system was rotten and some people were sucked into things they would not do if the incentives were different.

        • You’re exactly right about incentives. I remember reading that after the “50% rule” was instituted, average hematocrit levels in the peloton as measured by the UCI actually went up.

        • The sad tale is the one of doper who gets caught. There is nothing sad about having the courage to choose not to dope; that is a black and white decision. I don’t think the incentive to win is any different now because of a team like Vaughters. There is always the assumption that doping is wrong but there is never a proper debate as to why this is so. That would mean entering a grey area first but maybe it would help clear things up on whether ex dopers should be allowed to run our sport or not.

          • I think the whole system needs a complete reboot. All of the old doping tainted guard should be thrown and UCI burned to ground. Then a totally new system should be built with people outside the sport. People who have in no way touched the cancer that pro cycling has been and still is. Only then is there a small chance for a clean cycling. Or as clean as it’s possible in this twisted sicko world of human beings.

            But that will never happen. Too much money and power involved.

          • @ “Death Merchant”. It’s not a matter of money and power. It’s just naive and idiotic to speak of throwing out a “whole system”.

            Because the “system” comprises not just the UCI and pro teams/riders and ex-pros but also all the coaches, amateur teams, clubs, club members etc etc. And who is to draw the line? You? Some other randomly chosen dictator? On what arbitrary basis?

            This is why revolutionaries make incompetent governors: they think it is possible to abstract the government from the governed and replace one whilst retaining the other.

        • My problem isn’t with the fact the he was taken along for the ride, whether as a willing participant, or as a kid who got pressured into doing so.

          The issue I have is that he’s taken so long to come out and admit it. Even Mr 60 came out years ago and fessed up. For years JV has fronted the ‘clean’ team, which seemingly expects high standards, transparency, and honesty. Sadly they have a cheat at the top who’s only admitting it in public before it comes out in the USADA case. Added to that they’ve lost one rider to a suspension this year, they’ve also hired someone straight back from a suspension. When it’s Movistar or Astana that happens to, we point the finger and say it’s not good enough. And that smells of double standards to me.

          • As for the suspension of Alex Rasmussen, no one with their facts straight would assume that he was doping, and no one would associate his three missed out of competition tests with Garmin.

            First of all: One of Rasmussens missed tests was due to him hastely being called to a race. He updated his whereabouts, but forgot to push the right button on the website. This of course could be him lying, but he was present at the race (sorry, i don’t remember the exact race), and there he was fully tested by the present anti doping authorities, which makes his missed test at almost the excact same time irrelevant in the sense of logic, but not in the rigid, though important, whereabout system.

            Secondly all of Alex’ missed tests came in his time with HTC, not with Garmin. In Garmin they actually make sure that none of their riders screw up their whereabouts, because it is essential for cycling and the anti doping system.

            Dekkers return could of course be seen as double standards, but to my understanding the dutchman have come completely clean about his doings to WADA/UCI. Garmin never set out with a policy that denied them interaction with anyone or anything that ever had anything to do with doping. Instead it seems that Dekkers second chance is in harmony with Garmins major point in case; That sport, and cycling in particular, cannot move away form the past without trying to understanding and acknowliding it. Thats why David Millar was a key part in the process of making the team together with JV. It seems that their intentions of making a clean sport steems directly from them being “cheats”.

        • “But also it’s never black and white, the system was rotten and some people were sucked into things they would not do if the incentives were different.”

          But that also separates those with strong moral/ethical backbone from those with not so strong. It’s easy to act morally/ethically when there’s no or little temptation to cheat, but a lot harder when there is a strong incentive to cheat.

          • Death Merchant, when he talked about burning the whole thing down and starting over. Irt reminded me these problems are much broader than pro cycling. (We cycling fans can get rather focused.) The world is broken, not just cycling. There will be people doing wrong until the only one who is good burns it all down replaces it with something new and unbroken. His name is Jesus, and fortunately for all of us, by his unjust death, burial, and resurrection, made it possible for all who are willing to not go down with it, and to be his friend.

            I know this is heavy and off topic, and I’m not saying it’s imminent. Think about the state of cycling, the state of our world. Jesus describes the worlds problems (read the gospel of Mark), and his upside-down solution. The King gives his life for the people, instead of the other way around. Jesus is the only hero that won’t let us down. Every cyclists will.

            I hope the recent confessions broaden to methodologies, and empowering non-riders, so end the omerta, and allow cycling to have a bright clean future. I’m now becoming curious what would happen in other pro sports if the same level of doping controls and scrutiny was applied. I cannot imagine that other professional sports are as clean as we imagine. I’m pretty sure it’s not just cycling that has a doping problem.

    • Our lives have all been effected by cheaters since we were young, whether it’s stealing answers off your math test in grade school, taking a short cut in cross country practice to impress the coach, presenting a co-workers idea to the boss first. Cheating will never go away but at the end of the day you hope that the systems will try to mitigate the damage and the cheaters will eventually feel remorse. You still have to sleep with your decisions at night, and I sleep quite well.

    • Don’t you think creating an environment through attitude and testing where younger riders could ride without doping counts as a decent use of “illegally gained fame” …. Come on, he started the team with a bunch of kids.

  9. There seem to be quite a lot of cynics out there on the web (though fortunately not INRNG commenters) who are willing to dismiss anyone who ever doped as morally bankrupt, and to dismiss any confessions as attention grabs. I think we have to appreciate the stark choices that many felt they faced 10-15 years ago, and take a more nuanced view. In many cases, doping wouldn’t have been a choice between winning or losing the Tour, but merely between getting a contract for next year or finding a new way to make a living when you most likely don’t have any higher education. There will always be a few sociopaths among us. In professional cycling, those are the ones who crossed the line without reluctance or regret. They are the ones who continue to get caught in 2012 when it would seem that a rider can have a successful career without doping.

    Cheers, JV, from a guy who was hanging on for dear life at the back of some of the races you won as a teenager.

    • Cycling gives us big lessons in relativism. For example you might not win a race but can still have a good day on the bike just by making the breakaway; we don’t get the binary winner/loser outcome that, say, tennis has. This seems to extend into the subject of cheating and punishment, there’s some space between a cheat and an exemplary rider.

      But we shouldn’t forget some were robbed. Look back the Ventoux TT and knowing what we now know, David Moncoutié must have the patience or stoicism few others possess

    • Couldn’t agree more, only those who’ve been in the situation these ex-pros found themselves in and chose not to dope have any right to judge the decisions they made. Personally, I think it’d be a huge shame if Vaughters was forced out of cycling, he’s used his own negative experience to try to make a positive difference in the sport we all love today. His admission of guilt and tireless efforts to promote clean cycling atone for the mistakes he made a decade ago in my eyes.

      • BS. The reason why cycling is as rotten as it is, is because of these people who gave in to doping. Without them there wouldn’t be doping culture in cycling. It’s not like these people were in a life and death situation and just had to dope. Hell, there are even people that refuse, even when actually faced with death, give in to “evil” and hold on to their morals. Like people who rather give up their own lives than let harm come unto others. E.g. people who refuse to wage war and get then executed because of that. If all or even the majority of people were equipped with such high morals, we wouldn’t have wars. But people aren’t. In fact majority of people have very loose morals.

        • Oooooo….kay. Summary: “There is war, because people preferred not to die to stop a war, therefore most people have loose morals”.

          Notwithstanding the crackpot lunacy of your line of thinking, it also has jack s**t to do with cycling.

  10. No one has really commented on that the confession was given in an article talking about doping in sport in general, and that it was an admission and a deflection/re-direction at the same time. OK, he is a very smart guy and there is excellent PR practice at work here.

    But what troubles me is that he can’t actually believe everything he wrote, so it isn’t exactly a clean confession. What stuck out is his claim that athletes are just looking for a level playing field; this is pure BS. People are always looking for advantages; be they legal, illegal, and grey. Whether it is equipment, training methods, nutrition, research, or drugs, someone always wants a leg up on their competitors.

    As the executive director at Slipstream, he (as do all other team directors ) knowingly/actively tries to give his guys an advantage over the other riders/teams, even if they do not resort to any illegal means, he isn’t looking for a level playing field. The rider/director, etc. who reaches for the syringe first also isn’t trying to level the playing field. So much of the pretense of his article must be taken with a grain of salt, even if there are masses just trying to keep up.

    I think it would be very difficult for the UCI to effectively suspend him; as the owner of a team, they can’t take that asset away from him. They can suspend his DS license, but it is almost impossible to prevent him from being involved with the teams from behind the scenes, unless they also revoke Slipstream’s licenses (they have the U23 team too). If somehow they do, they are just giving him more time to devote to forming a breakaway league.

    It also wouldn’t look good to suspend one of the most outspoken anti-doping personalities, not that appearances have ever been foremost on the UCI’s minds when taking action over the past several years…

    • I’ll take issue with your “level playing field” argument. Cheaters usually cheat because they believe everyone else is getting away with cheating OR have some other advantage that is unavailable to them, whether it’s equipment or something else. The sociopaths are a minority and those folks are the ones who’ll do anything and everything to get that “leg up” on their competitors. I would put Vaughters and Millar in the first group since they’ve admitted cheating, while those who still vociferously deny it despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary belong in the second group. Following Vaughter’s recommendations in this NYT piece will reduce the numbers of the first group who are the majority of cheats. The second group is a bigger challenge.

      • I meant to say “People are always looking for advantages; be they legal, illegal, OR grey.” The level playing field was JV’s statement.

        This said, I am not necessarily speaking about cheating, just about gaining an advantage. It can be LeMond and his aero bars (grey; whether they were then legal or illegal depending who you ask), British Cycling and their hot pants (legal), or Rider X and EPO (illegal). If you are seeking an advantage, even a legal one, you are not seeking a level playing field. Furthermore a level playing field is almost always an illusion.

        • i don’t remember anyone’s heart stopping from putting on hot pants.

          of course athletes want advantages. but some advantages seem to be at least potentially available to all without harm, and some advantages might kill you. i think it is fair to say that athletes are “looking for a level playing field”, in that they’d like to not have to battle against advantages that might cause them unforeseeable harm and stick to merely ones available to most anyone.

      • Larry T. > How can you compare Millar with Vaughters? Didn’t Millar deny his doping vociferously for ~11 months (July 03-June 04) until eventually admitting (probably on advice from legal counsel)? I see more commonalities between Millar and FLandis. Vaughters can best be compared to Riis & Zabel – knowing the facts will be exposed soon, so a public confession in an attempt to save face after the statute of limitations has expired.

        • OK, take St. David out. I put him in with JV because he ‘fessed up and seems to be well received by most including JV, even if he denied it for awhile. As I recall JV never had to vociferously deny anything because he was never caught/accused, correct? But certainly confessing BEFORE you have nothing to lose is better than Millar, who only copped to it after he was nabbed. This is what would seem to make the eyewitness testimony against BigTex so damning – unlike Landis or Hamilton, the others who supposedly ratted Tex out had nothing to gain and lots to lose by telling the truth. I think the entire house of cards that is pro cycling, with the UCI as ring-master will come crashing down when the truth comes out. Only then can it (we hope anyway) be rebuilt into something with credibility higher than World Wrestling Entertainment.

  11. Vaughters has been the single most influential personality that has changed the doping culture in cycling. Six or seven years ago there were many right-minded individuals in cycling, but the mind-set then was ‘if you want to win, you gotta dope’.
    What sets Vaughters apart is that he decided to set hs team up differently, he told his riders that results were secondary to racing clean. And his teams succeeded. What a legacy that is…to be the person responsible for changing a sporting culture. He showed others it could be done. The future is brighter, much brighter because of what Vaughters has achieved.

    • Amen!

      The importance of this point must not be overlooked or underestimated. Vaughters created a team that for the first time since the doping era freed his riders from the temptation to dope because he made clear to them that their results were secondary to being clean. This meant, very clearly, that their jobs and their paychecks did not depend on results and hence, did not depend on doping.

      Vaughters wasn’t just preaching the anti doping party line. He made it possible for his riders to be clean. To me that’s worth something–a certain atoning for past sins as others have said.

    • If I’m not wrong the man that really started the change was the danish doctor Rasmus Damsgaard. He made a program for the CSC team, that was totally independent and all samples was taken by the UCI and testes at Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen,

      The results where sent to the UCI before they were given to the CSC team. That program went on for some years, and i more or less what today is know as the biological passport.

  12. There is always a temptation to cheat, and the bigger the money to be made, the bigger the temptation to cheat, whether it’s in sport, or business, or dare I say it, banking.

    Action against cheating will have to be never-ending, because it’s an arms race between the regulators and those who devise new methods of bending or breaking the rules. Depressing but true.

    What’s odd, and indeed unfair, is that cycling seems to have taken the brunt of the bad publicity despite the fact that, for example, at least one of the track records broken in the Olympics this week was set by the East Germans in the 80s when doping by that country’s athletes was rife.

  13. A ban from the UCI is of little concern if a break-away league is in the works with Vaughters at the helm. The sooner the UCI is jettisoned, the better.

  14. I take issue with the notion that many of these riders are indigent. It takes an enormous amount of money to get these riders into national competitiveness much less shipped off to international races.

    That money comes from somewhere and it won’t vanish when they leave the sport. Case in point, isn’t one of JV’s parents a lawyer?

  15. I agree that there probably won’t be a significant ban; possibly a 3 month ban during the off-season as was suggested by some European news agency a couple months ago. Leipheimer, Zabriskie, and VanDe Velde will probably get the same. Also, I don’t think there should be a more serious ban because Vaughters has done a boatload for clean cycling with his Garmin-Sharp team controls and testing, and his idea to stress clean cycling over winning. As he said: “it takes the decision to dope out of the equation”. Personally, I think the whole mess implicates the UCI since there is no real evidence that they took a clean-cycling stance in the past, and may have actually supported the doping culture.

  16. Advantage to JV for putting the UCI in between a rock and a hard place. IF they follow the rules and suspend him, or seek to have him suspended, it would invariably mean they would ‘discover’ evidence or claims that Cancer Jesus also doped and/or was a part of the system. It would reason that if they wanted to save ANY face in this whole thing they would then be forced to address LA’s doping.

    Anything less than a ban for Lance would reek of cover-up, and more importantly, would shine an even brighter, hotter light on them. And the sponsors who have tolerated them for this long might finally lose interest.

  17. When I read the article it felt as if JV was telling us something we already knew. I think the timing is more important than the confession itself. Potentially this is the beginning of the end, the clean out the sport probably does need to really move on. If others such as Hincapie, Van de Velde, Leipheimer all come clean then Armstrong’s position becomes untenable. It’s going to be an interesting period ahead.

    • I propose a Truth and Reconciliation Commission patterned after the South African commission established post-apartheid.

      From their enabling act: “… a commission is a necessary exercise to enable South Africans to come to terms with their past on a morally accepted basis and to advance the cause of reconciliation.”

      Something professional cycling needs.

  18. This has all come as a complete surprise. Though it explains why, every time the subject has been raised in the past few years, Vaughters has answered by winking and tapping the side of his nose.
    Had Vaughters always been clean he would, no doubt, have mentioned that as a reason he wanted to set up and run a clean team – but he never did, so it was always pretty clear that bad experiences and an uneasy conscience were driving him on. His explanation for why he doped is, oddly, a template for how Armstrong, if he ever confessed, might explain it. He had a dream, a dream since was a child, he worked hard, he sacrificed, he struggled and then he found out that without drugs it would all have been for nothing, his dream could not be achieved clean. And all he wanted was a fair and equal chance. Throw in life threatening cancer and it’s a perfect fit. It might just fool some people. Did Vaughters cry during his confession? I think Lance would have to cry. Finding Jesus would probably help too.
    Unlike Armstrong Vaughters has become a hopeful figure in the sport and for that reason a reduced ban should be the worst he can expect.

  19. I said the below on another website…

    The article is an interesting read.

    I’ve often thought that teams such as Garmin who are expressly trying to take the clean cycling path, that they need to come ‘clean’, as many of the people working on those teams have come from an era that did by and large dope (I’m not saying all did).

    As such, they needed to say, like JV now has, that yes they were involved, that from their own experience know it was wrong, and in doing that take ownership of their history and the moral high ground going forward.

    Strangely, it is almost easier if you have doped. It is those that didn’t that have the problem, because how do you wrestle with the view that everyone thinks you did. “I’ve never failed one doping test” doesn’t cut it.

  20. On a tangent … JV finished (started?) a bachelor’s degree? I’ve never seen it mentioned, & seems unlikely given his racing career that went straight into management. Meaning that his tweet about MBA applications is nonsense.

  21. I think Brunyeel providing a confession/tell all opinion in the NYT will provide much greater drama. Better yet, if he publishes in the WSJ it can be fully justifying a never failed/never caught storyline in the name of honest capitalism. 🙂

    • Everyone’s scrambling to get their line out before the USADA case. This certainly seems like the most pivotal time in modern cycling history. Is this going to be the cleaning house that sets cycling on a path to a clean future and perhaps a new governing body? I can’t help but worry that if certain names associated with the sport, not just riders, collapse under the weight of the scandal, it might take a long time for cycling to recover. Could all this derail the progress there’s been in the past few years?

  22. I can see parallels between Vaughters and David Millar. Although Millar was caught, publically dragged through the press, and emerged stronger and with a positive (no pun intended) attitide to fighting doping and racing clean, I believe Vaughters has had the same attitude and real change of heart. Certainly he’s been “lucky” to have been spared the shame and suffering of being caught, but perhaps that long inner battle with his concience all these years has probably taken just as great a toll. Certainly the USADA case must have prompted Vaughters getting his story out first. Will this mean he will continue to be chairman of the rider’s or team managers association?! Will this weaken his bargaining position vis-a-vis the UCI, and the (long forgotten) radio battle? I wonder. One good thing out of all the, the truth eventually emerges, and this can only help us in the future. No more super-human feats in cycling I’m afraid. Go out and eat your oats boys, it’s a tough grind up Ventoux.

  23. Am I missing something? Whats the difference between Vaughters whom makes money, turning his professional cycling career into a team owner/management role and LA whom makes money from his professional cycling career – same goes for Hincapie and Riis?
    Why is it we look to lynch LA and not get Hincapie? Get LA and not get Vaughters? How much money has Millers book made? He’s still profiting from doping.
    If the USADA investigation wasnt happening there is NO-WAY-IN-HELL Jonathan Vaughters would be “getting this weight off his shoulders” what a crock of sh*t. He sleeps as well as every other pro cyclist of the 1990’s.
    I really don’t care what happens to LA but to pat Vaughters on the back and say well done? That is a bit rich.

        • yes, you see, that’s the kind of reply you need, one on steroids! There seems to be very very little common sense out there anymore. So much schat on rules and yet here you have it in Bd’s opinion. If LA, JV, Big H and Floyd all put a syringe in their arse to ride a bike faster then they all put a syringe in their arses to ride their bikes faster. I’m getting sick here reading the same arguments decade in decade out over and over and over and over……….. and all we have at the end of the day is what they tell us people! Oh yeah right, you can’t say that, way too uncool!

        • I think their will be cycling street parties if LA comes clean, not back slaps.
          But again, Hincapie has made money and still is making money from Professional cycling , we all know he’s in the same boat but he’s regarded as one of US Cycling most popular riders…why is that? He’s always denied doping ( most likely doesn’t get asked as much as LA), just like Lance.
          Does anyone know if the NewYork Times paid Vaughters for his article? Why not sit down at a press conference and talk openly about it, instead of a smart PR relations article.its BS

    • I’m not much for binomial, a.k.a. black and white, a.k.a. your fer us or yer against us, evaluations of complex matters such as human judgement and behavior. Simplistic conclusions are mentally easy and feel good, but little value beyond that. Obviously there are projections and moral judgements and other nonsense. But, to equate LA and JV as one in the same kettle of fish seems more than a bit “poor.” Maintaining innocence over an 8 year period in which a “supposed” program of organized use of banned PEDs that resulted in winning the largest, most prestigious cycling event world wide, and the mass financial rewards associated, is just one of the “differences” between the two characters. Most white collar criminals find themselves in deeper problems not from the original crime, but from the elaborate and extensive efforts to “cover up” the truth and mislead the public, etc.

      • So because LA made more $$ than JV he is a worse person? Sorry, I’m not buying that argument. JV & all the rest of the Postie’s, Festina’s, T-Mobile’s, Cofidis’, etc. are all complicit in the doping & the coverups. Aiding & Abetting a person or persons who have committed a criminal act is a serious crime here in the USA. All the riders mentioned here have benefitted financially from cheating & helping others cheat, and staying silent on the subject for years.

        • Again, missing the “important” point. It is not “worse” person. It is the degree and length of premeditated fraud. I.e., continued, multi-year denial of “supposed” use of illegal PEDs which resulted in exorbitant benefits. Significant effort and investment in the suppression of facts, evidence, etc. There is a “clear” difference between someone who cheats one or two years on personal income taxes versus a Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme. Yes, both instances are dishonest and cheating, but the later results in significant negative impacts on many people.

  24. In following cycling for many years now, it seems that many people want to make this into a morality play. Illicit doping use remains the fundamental systemic problem of pro-cycling, and a hurdle to acceptance and greater use for marketing. If the sport survives in an era where marketing is key to survival, doping has to stop. So, may be a clean up of the sport is the only important issue at hand, as much as we like framing this as a story of good and bad.

    From a practical enforcement view, the way to get to the core is from the edges. Success has come after many years of working on people that would come forward, and may be even rewarding a few of the early ones that do by going gently with them. I cannot get into the mind of a particular cyclist, and do not care to do so. More importantly, many pro cyclists are introduced to drugs from somewhere, medical doctors develop these doping protocols (EPO is a powerful drug), and entire labs exist for the process. We have seen a small number busted. We need access to information, and to put people at the top of the scheme in jail so as to contain the problem and keep it from coming back. For that, we would need some cooperation from at least some cyclists.


  25. Potentially interesting new book from Daniel Coyle and Tyler Hamilton being published on 18 Sept (i.e. Lance’s birthday) called “The Secret Race”.

  26. A cheat by any other name smells as fetid. Right on BD. A dirty man in a dirty sport is still a dirty man. Without the alleged freight train of a current investigation barreling down the track, how many of these contrite little boys would be lining up? Cutting a deal for a slap on the wrist is nothing but expedient. Johnny V gets to posture as the “new face of clean racing”, but has cheated the sport for years. His reward?-Team management, the spotlight, and the admiration of the sheep who think that confession equals contrition equals absolution. Sports “heroes” get the walk, and our ovine admiration for their courage to confess reflects poorly back on us. Maybe I’ll tell the boss how I’ve been skimming for years, I’ll probalby get employee of the month.

    • Your boss might be sympathetic when you own up to stealing a few highlighters, and blow the whistle on someone stealing lots of money and encouraging/intimidating others to do the same.

  27. There’s a long thread on twitter right now between Adam Myerson and others who got their start in cycling with JV and Hamilton, recalling specific instances where they were personally screwed over by JV in races. I think they have every right to be angry. As for the rest of us…

    Well, it’s easy to ascribe unseen ulterior motives to JV, as most of his detractors seem to be doing, and I don’t know whether I agree with those who are lionizing his confession, he does seem to avoid taking personal responsibility for his transgressions.

    What I do know is this. I count on the fact that cyclists currently racing with Garmin are currently not doping. I know that there’s one team that doesn’t play by the old rules. For that I have to thank JV.

    For those of you asking, “But Matt, how can you be so sure?” Well, I can’t really, but looking at stuff like the Matt White – Trent Lowe – Del Moral incident, and contrasting it to Team Sky with Geert Leiders* one has to think that the team has principles, and sticks to them even if it means firing a brilliant DS in the middle of a race.

    * Not saying Sky is doping, just a demonstration of principled decision making versus throwing out their internal rulebook when it’s not convenient.

    • If some of Vaughters’ contemporaries are upset that he robbed them of results, I think it would help for him to give more details about the extent of his doping, because I’m not convinced he did it his whole career. He showed brilliant promise as a junior, followed by years toiling away anonymously in the European peloton before suddenly getting the best “results” of his career over the space of 2-3 years as part of the US Postal program. I suspect we’ll all learn plenty when the court cases begin.

  28. Historically, Cycling is the sport of doping. Cyclists were/are innovators in doping. They did it all first, and they did it all harder. This means, logically, that any anti-doping reaction must be just as revolutionary and powerful.

    Yes, it’s true that other sportsmen dope. However, you’ll be hard pushed to find teams winning the Champions League because they’re all fresh from blood transfusions. Cycling is an individual, endurance sport so the rewards of using PEDs are greater than in other sports. So logically more people are going to do it, and the amounts will increase. It’s like in track running, you can go from a jobbing no-name to a world beater pretty much overnight through an intense PED programme. That’s not going to happen in soccer.

    Events like Floyd Landis are skewing the competative element so much that action must be taken. It was so weird watching that stage back, and knowing that they were probably all doped that day, it was just that Landis doped the best. If you really think about it, it’s a completely ridiculous farce. It’s contest of chemistry and pharmacy. If you want to watch people doing spectacular things but where the results are meaningless, go watch WWF.

    It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to learn that half of Serie A is on EPO and half of the NFL is on college-roids. But their time for judgement will come. For now, the fight is with Cycling. I don’t care what any other sports are doing. I’m still certain that Maradonna, Platini, Zidane, Baggio, Gazza and Messi were all greats of their sport regardless of any PEDs they took. I really can’t say the same about Pantani, Armstrong, Landis, Ullrich, Schleck and Contador. I don’t like that.

    Sport is all about rules. You can disagree all you want but if it wasn’t for rules everything would just be a load of villagers beating each other up in their tunics for the amusement of bored rich people. The whole essence of modern sport (i.e invented by unbelievably odd victorian types) is everyone, all over the world, playing to exactly the same rules, so you can go anywhere and have an equal competition and find out who is the best. Pretty much all sports came from this ideal, although I suppose you could argue that Cycling actually came about from a different dichotomy.

    It was an event to promote a newspaper. So is Cycling really, in a true historical sense, actually a sport? It’s a commercial promotion that has been competition-ized, rather than a competition that later becomes commercialised. Perhaps that’s a clue to why Cycling appears to sit outside the normal sporting boundaries of rules and an even playing field. When Cycling started, it was to attract interest and sell copy. When Soccer started, it went out out of it’s way for years to avoid any kind of professionalism. I know it’s a tired cliche, but the ‘gentleman amateur’ ethos from the public schools that founded many sports – Soccer, Rugby, Cricket, Boxing, Basketball, Tennis, American Football, even Baseball – is not part of the history of Cycling. It’s ruthless Professionalism from day one.

    Of course, in recent years our American cousins have more or less turned a blind eye to doping (unless you lie to the Grand Supremos about it). The demand for TV money and commercial tie-ins are such that the competative bar always has to be raised, pharmaceutically. The bans are laughable, and the lack of condemnation worrying. But that’s their business and the NFL freakshow is a pretty lucrative one. Entertaining, but a brutal freakshow. Is that what Cycling aspires to be?

    Perhaps it’s just that innate uptight Britishness I clearly have. Competition has to be fair and even. You could have 100,000 screaming fans packed into the Alberquerque Mega-Plex, and I’m dead inside because it’s just Wrestlemania 37 and the results are all fixed. It’s the Superbowl and half the Offensive Line are just coming off 2 game Steriod bans. It means nothing. When I watch the next person rip apart the Alps, I want it to mean something.

  29. Blah blah blah blah blah! Vaughters is just out to save his ass! He’s a confessed doper, confirmation if you ask me. Want to confess, break it down and tell the world your “performance schedule” the years you we’re on meds. I have yet to read where one rider/director pours his sorrow to the world. You want our support, come clean w/ everything. Sorry INRG, but the only salute he gets from me is the door slam! Will he testify against Bruyneel and/or Armstrong?

  30. JV has the right attitude for someone from his generation. Make a difference, confess when you have to.


    You can’t dump everyone from the sport, because without continuity as riders become DSes and then team owners, there simply is no sport of cycling. But practically everyone from his era is tainted.

    Ergo, the only way to progress is when those who are part of the continuity are part of the cleanup. We don’t applaud JV the doper, of course, but we should applaud JV the clean-as-a-whistle team owner.

    And if you can’t separate the two, then I defy you to propose a better model for a progressive cure for cycling’s cancer – one that doesn’t kill the patient (like the ridiculous “dope once, lifetime ban from everything” that some hysterical idiots haven’t noticed is nonviable)

  31. Doping is not the end of or the beginning of the world. Pros cheat, always have, always will. When you stand to make substantial money from riding your bike, you let us know how you deal with the temptation to cheat. Any words you speak before then are meaningless. And your condemnation, however full of vigor, is empty.

    The list of riders that doped when JV was a pro is endless. All of your cycling heroes probably cheated at some point in their careers. In fact, you could argue that JV was following the unwritten rules of his era. Assuming his teams are clean, I put a lot more stock in what he’s doing now, swimming against the current.

    And don’t for a minute think this whole thing with Hincapie, JV, VdV, etc. hasn’t been already determined by the powers that be. They’ve got what they need to hang LA; they are waiting until the end of the season to do it. What you’re seeing is the smoke before the fire. Hincapie will retire, the others have already negotiated their punishment, and the public will find out shortly.

  32. I wonder when we hear the same confession from Bradley Wiggins, Froome and the rest of the Sky team. Will it take as long as with US Postal? Brailsford will most likely never admit anything, but those riding might still have a conscience. Especially the younger ones not so much tainted by the whole sick culture of omerta.

    • Why do you have to assume they’re doping?
      Is it impossible to win without?
      Garmin won the Giro, and you’re telling me Ryder was doped?
      Sorry, don’t think so. Some people can, and do, win because they’re better than the others.

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