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Orica-GreenEdge's Stuart O'Grady (left) and sports director Matt White before the start of the Down Under Classic in Adelaide.
Sports director says team in "good position" heading into Tour de France
Matt White has be reinstated to his role of sports director with Orica GreenEdge in line with the recommendations set out by the Vance Review, released last month.
The team has announced that all of the recommendations set out by Nicki Vance, a former World Anti-Doping Agency director, will be implemented. White meanwhile, will be subject to a 12 month probationary period.
White has been with the squad at the Tour de Suisse over the last few days and will officially return to work today for Stage 4.
"I've learned a thing or two over the past eight months but I'm still the same person I was at the end of last year when I was working for the team," White told Cyclingnews while out on a morning walk in the rain.
"Personally, I'm very happy with the decisions I made in October – not so much with the decisions I made as an athlete. I'm very appreciative of our sponsors, especially Orica and more so Gerry Ryan for actually understanding where cycling is at on its journey to redemption."
General manager Shayne Bannan said he was pleased to have White back with the team. The former Cofidis and United States Postal Service rider, and former Garmin DS was stood down from his role with GreenEdge in the wake of the United States Anti-Doping Agency's Reasoned Decision in October 2012. White received a six-month back-dated ban having confessed to doping violations.
"We have reviewed and will constantly continue to review our management, and it was clear that Matt White is the right person for the job," said Bannan in a team statement. "I am sure he again will be an invaluable part of our management and a true asset to the riders and the staff. His perspective on the sport and his commitment to make cycling better are both key elements to our success and our identity.
"Matt White's appointment is consistent with the framework for treating past and future offences recommended in the Vance Report, and the team has gone further by making Matt White's appointment subject to a 12 month probationary period," Bannan continued. "This is all part of a constant evaluation structure we are putting in place regarding our management. We are not only fully committed to using the report as a guideline for our team but would also like to continually use it as the best possible basis for our decision-making when approaching key elements of the sport."
Among the recommendations to be implemented by the team in the wake of the Vance Report, will be to formally ask new recruits about any previous anti-doping rule violations; a more clearly defined strategy regarding supplement use; increase publicity about Orica GreenEdge being a clean team and continue membership and participation with MPCC.
Moving forward, not looking back
As it stands, White and Stephen Hodge remain the only Australian riders to confess to doping during the 90s. The results of a wider investigation into Australian cycling are yet to be handed down by Australian anti-doping authorities. No sanction was recommended by Vance for another GreenEdge employee, Neil Stephens, on the basis that it was outside the statute of limitations while Stephens himself has publicly maintained that he did not know that he was being provided with performance-enhancing drugs while at Festina.
Thirty-nine-year-old White has been open in his frustration at the lack of action regarding the other redacted names in the USADA report previously and on Tuesday, his feelings had not altered.
"The mistakes I made are the only ones I can answer for," he explained. "A suspension was warranted and I cooperated fully with the authorities and ASADA and that's on-going…
"It has been disappointing how certain groups have handled it, especially the UCI. My suspension was warranted. I made mistakes and a penalty needed to be given. I haven't got a problem with that at all. There should not have been an investigation into one team, there should have been an investigation into an era and we need to draw a line in the sand. At the moment, not too many people have shown an interest in that…"
The job ahead
White returns to an Orica GreenEdge outfit that so far has claimed 19 wins for the season and while without the big results of 2012 such as Milan – San Remo (Simon Gerrans) or the Giro d'Italia stage (Matt Goss), he is confident the team is in good shape heading into the high stakes of the Tour de France.
"I think the team's in a very good position at the moment," White admitted. "There's some final touches for some guys here at Tour of Switzerland and another group at Tour of Slovenia which starts tomorrow.
"I'm very happy with the group we're preparing for the Tour de France. The majority of the team is already picked, we're just going to finalise a spot or two in the next week but it will be a big chunk of last year's team but there will be a couple of new faces, that's for sure."