Garmin-Cervelo has dismissed Matt White after discovering that the directeur sportif referred Trent Lowe to the former US Postal team physician Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral at the Sports Institute of Valencia. The incident took place in April 2009. The former Garmin rider met with del Moral for a Vo2 test which contravened the team’s strict anti-doping and medical referral rules.
Cyclingnews understands that Garmin were notified of the meeting with del Moral after a contract dispute between the rider and team during the final stages of 2010.
“Slipstream Sports has an explicit internal policy that all medical referrals are approved by our medical staff. In this instance, this vital rule was broken. As a result, the Board of Directors has dismissed Matt White,” the team said in a press release.
The press release also stated that White had been dismissed for this and no other reason, essentially playing down any speculation to the GreenEdge team he had been rumoured to join.
Lowe joined Slipstream in 2008 after riding for two seasons at the Discovery team. He finished second in the Tour of Georgia in his first season with Vaughters’ squad and competed in the Tour de France. White also joined the team in 2008 as a directeur after a career that saw him ride for teams in the US, France and Italy.
Lowe struggled after his first season with Slipstream through illness and was released at the end of 2010, joining the new defunct Pegasus Sports team. At this time Trent Lowe was not willing to comment.
Cyclingnews spoke to Vaughters who travelled to Australia this week. “This was a hard thing to do, a very hard thing to do but was the only thing to do. Hard decisions need to be made and procedures and policies have to be adhered to. We don’t have a choice if we want the sport to go forward.”
“We made a promise to our riders and to the world when we started this team. We live, every day, by the standards we have set for ourselves. We cannot allow this vital team rule to be broken,” said Garmin-Cervelo manager, Jonathan Vaughters.
Matt White, who was Garmin-Cervelo's directeur sportif at the Tour Down Under, confirmed his departure from the team in a statement released on Sunday. His contract had been due to expire at the end of 2011.
“I¹ve had three outstanding and really enjoyable years with the boys from Slipstream and with all the movement in the focus for the team this year I reckon that my own efforts and momentum could be better directed elsewhere for this season,” White said.
The Garmin-Cervelo riders at the Tour Down Under as well as those currently based in Europe were notified of the news by phone. Cyclingnews spoke to new signing Brett Lancaster who helped Cameron Meyer secure the overall at the Tour Down Under.
"I’m quite new to the team. Whitey’s a good friend of mine. I’ve raced with him a long time. The decision has come from the Slipstream board so I can’t really comment on it.
"It’s not so good but like I said, Whitey’s a good friend of ours and it’s just a sad day for us all."
Who is del Moral?
Del Moral worked for both ONCE and the US Postal team, and has been embroiled in several doping controversies. Former US Postal employee Emma O'Reilly accused him of retroactively producing a prescription for Lance Armstrong's which resulted in his cortisone positive during the 1999 Tour de France.
Del Moral was also videotaped by journalists disposing of medical waste at the 2000 Tour for US Postal. The bags included syringes, intravenous apparatus and a calf's blood extract called Actovegin. The find was fodder for Armstrong doubters, who viewed it as evidence of doping within the team, but an investigation opened by French police eventually went nowhere and was closed two years later.
The Spaniard remained with the US Postal team through 2003, a period during which Floyd Landis admits to have participated in doping, but Del Moral recently said he saw no signs of doping within the team during his tenure.
He has also worked for both the Spanish and American cycling teams, helping Miguel Indurain win gold at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
Gerard Vroomen, CEO of Cervélo backed the decision to relieve White of his duties.
“It¹s really tough news but on the other hand it gives me a lot of confidence in the Slipstream organization. It¹s easy to take a tough stance when there are no consequences, it¹s much more impressive when a team is willing to take a bullet to protect its philosophy and the cycling sport in general."
The team is now actively looking at solutions and in the interim, Jonathan Vaughters will step in as Director of Competition. The riders and staff will gather later this week in Girona, Spain for their final training camp.