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Will former rider be the only casualty?
A three-hour-long board meeting of Cycling Australia on Tuesday night has concluded that Matt White can no longer continue in his role as professional men's road coordinator. White was informed of the decision last night following the meeting. Cyclingnews understands that the ex-rider will not be the only casualty within Cycling Australia with a further resignation to come.
The Cycling Australia board sent out an extensive release late on Wednesday afternoon, shortly before a press conference in Melbourne headed by President Klaus Mueller. The statement reiterated its commitment to the anti-doping cause while remaining adamant that "there were no grounds to prevent Matt continuing in his role with CA," when his conduct came under review in 2011.
"The Board has recognised the current situation calls for the review of our internal processes for the appointment of staff and contractors and while this process will begin immediately it will also be a key item to be addressed in more detail by the CA Board at its scheduled November meeting," it said, indicating that White may not be the only casualty in the fallout from the USADA report.
Cycling Australia also distributed a short statement from White -
"I have really enjoyed working for Cycling Australia and it has been an honour to represent my country in the role I have had. I understand the current situation makes it difficult to sustain the position and I respect that Cycling Australia has to make certain decisions.
"It's crucial there is a positive outcome from the current debate about cycling's past and I feel a responsibility to be part of that – even if it won't be in an official Cycling Australia role.
"Regardless, I want to express my gratitude for the time I had in the position as a coach and a selector and like everyone else, I hope for a clear path and a bright future for the sport."
Previous suggestions raised by Mueller, of a doping 'amnesty' were scuttled in Wednesday's release while the criminalisation of doping practices received support because "it sends a strong message that such conduct is unacceptable and adds the resources of the police to the fight against this blight on sport."
Cycling Australia has come under fire in recent days in light of the ripples dispersed from the USADA report, especially in its hiring, investigation and subsequent clearing of White. Dr. Michael Ashenden said the body had been "long on talk, but short on walk" and today Cycling Australia responded by stating:
"We acknowledge that there is now clear evidence that the UCI, until recent times, failed to fully and properly do its part to stamp out doping. We stand by our belief that the UCI deserves significant credit in a number of areas, namely its persistence in dealing with the Operation Puerto files and the ground-breaking introduction of the Biological Passport."
White told Cycling Australia of his intention to stand down from his position, shortly before issuing his statement on Saturday confessing to doping after he was implicated in the USADA case against Lance Armstrong and his associates by an email initially sent to USA Cycling by Floyd Landis in 2010.
The Landis allegations hit a road block when Cycling Australia referred the matter to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) following their release. With the Landis revelations also being investigated by the US Anti-doping Agency, as well as the US Federal Government, ASADA was unable to properly pursue the matter.
In January 2011, White joined Cycling Australia’s high performance program in addition to his role as directeur sportif with Garmin-Cervélo. A week later, he was sacked by the trade team for referring cyclist Trent Lowe to the former US postal team physician Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral at the Sports Institute of Valencia, Spain 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.
The Cycling Australia board instructed CEO Graham Fredericks to investigate White’s dismissal however his report "found no reason for Cycling Australia to reconsider" the appointment.
"The board is satisfied that Mr White's breach of Garmin-Cervélo Cycling Team policy was an error of judgement that he sincerely regrets but that it was nothing more than that," said Fredericks in a statement. "Matt has learned a lesson, the hard way, from this and we are confident he is fully aware of and committed to the policies that must be adhered to when working with the national program.
"We look forward to working with him and believe he is a valuable addition to our team."
Cyclingnews understands that while compiling the report, Fredericks did not ask whether White had violated anti-doping regulations during his 15-year-career as a cyclist however, Cycling Australia considered a reasonable amount of due diligence to have been done.
White was also hired by Orica-GreenEdge as a sports director and he has also stood down from that position for the time being.
ASADA is currently seeking further information from Cycling Australia as well as USADA to continue its own investigations.
Cycling Australia closed out the press release by saying: "How the UCI responds to the USADA file and how it addresses the allegations within it will be critical to the reputation of the organisation and that of the sport of cycling. We at CA encourage the UCI take this very real opportunity to steer the sport into a new future."