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Stephens winning stage 17 of the 1997 Tour de France in Switzerland.
Gerry Ryan not shocked by White's confession
Owner of Orica-GreenEdge Gerry Ryan is pleased with the way his team is handling the fallout from the USADA investigation which resulted in the sacking of team sports director, Matt White, the announcement of which coincided with the launch of an independent external review.
"I have a meeting next week with Nicki Vance and I'll hear her story and I'll give her mine - I'm very happy with the way it's going," Ryan told Cyclingnews.
Vance, a former director of WADA, is currently looking into the anti-doping policies, procedures as well as riders and staff of Orica-GreenEdge. Meantime, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority [ASADA] and the federal government are also carrying out separate reviews of Cycling Australia and its riders and staff.
Ryan said he "wasn't shocked" by the revelations surrounding White who was identified as Rider 9 in Floyd Landis' evidence in USADA's Reasoned Decision documentation to the UCI. On October 13, White stood down from his role with Orica-GreenEdge and confessed to his own involvement in "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." Four days later he was sacked from his role with Cycling Australia where he was men's professional road co-ordinator.
"I think you'd have to be naive not to think that some things went on back then with the culture of the sport," said Ryan who then went on to credit White along with Jonathan Vaughters as "crusaders and pioneers" in the anti-doping cause.
Given the comparatively alacritous way that White's indiscretions were dealt with - the team had previously indicated that it would wait for ASADA to conduct its investigation into the former U.S. Postal domestique but acted before its conclusion - the silence over sports director Neil Stephens has continued to be a talking point in the wake of the commencement of the Vance Review.
"Public opinion is that we might have made the decision too quickly, but we'll wait and see what happens," Ryan told Cyclingnews.
Stephens, a member of the infamous 1998 Festina team at the Tour de France, has previously stated publicly that while he used EPO, he did not do so knowingly, believing instead that he was being injected with vitamin supplements. Cycling Australia accepted that defence when Stephens' inclusion in the 1998 Commonwealth Games team was challenged.
Asked why Orica-GreenEdge had not taken any action at all against Stephens and why his case has been afforded the luxury of time that White's did not, Ryan stated:
"Well, Neil Stephens is going through a process now. Have you got evidence against Neil Stephens?"
Cyclingnews then verbally informed Ryan of Stephens' qualified admission and later sent a relevant article from the time in an email.
"When did he admit that? I haven't seen quotes at this stage," said Ryan. "I'm waiting for Nicki to come to me. I'm not making any decisions until I see the report from Justice Wood [who is running the Australian Federal Government investigation into Cycling Australia] and from Nicki."