White recommended for reinstatement, no penalty for Stephens
The findings of Nicki Vance's external review of the policies, procedures as well as riders and staff at Orica GreenEdge has concluded with the Australian ProTeam releasing a summary of the findings. An official team statement in regard to the findings is expected with the coming days.
The main objectives of the 'Vance Review' were to confirm the team's standing in the fight against doping in professional cycling along with an assessment of the protocols and recruitment practices of the sole Australian WorldTour squad. Following the report is a list of recommendations with Vance charged with overseeing the implementation of any such changes.
Vance outlined a clear series of guidelines for riders and staff who come forth to admit or have admitted to doping in the past. Following the interviews of the men's and women's teams, excluding Daniel Teklehaimanot who "was unavailable during the interview time" and the 21 staff members, were no further admissions to use of doping substances in the past. Vance noted that one particular limitation of the interview process was the swift and apparent 'zero-tolerance' stance taken with Matt White, who stepped down from his role after admitting to doping and subsequently could have led to some riders holding back from admissions to making the wrong choices in the past.
"This is not to say that anyone necessarily had something to hide, however, if they had doped or assisted others to dope in the past they would most likely have remained silent," wrote Vance in her Anti-Doping Review Report.
One of the most publicly discussed suggestions is for Matt White to be reinstated into his former role as sports director and given his six-month back-dated suspension is now finished, he is technically able to do so. Vance detailed a specific approach that should be taken in terms of past doping substance use and also outlined ways in which they could be handled dependant on the timing of the actual anti-doping violation and when or if that rider/staff member came forth with information relating to an infraction.
"Consistent with the advised general approach to past doping offences/admissions and the conditions already outlined it is recommended that Matt White have his position with OGE reinstated once any ASADA-imposed sanction is completed."
Neil Stephens, in accordance with Vance's general recommendations for past doping offences should receive no penalty or suspension from the team given the dates of his apparent use of EPO – which he did so unknowingly. The difference between White and Stephens' case is essentially due to the former Festina rider unknowingly using a banned substance prior to 1 July 2005 – in which "no suspension or workplace penalty be imposed".
The report continues by suggesting the team should further promote itself as a "clean" team and that all new staff and riders be put through a more specific range of questions relating to anti-doping and to ensure that all team members are fully informed of their rights and responsibilities regarding anti-doping clauses in contracts. This is extremely pertinent given Gerry Ryan's apparent lack of information regarding Stephens' past admissions.
Effective management of riders whereabouts forms is also to be implemented to ensure that all team members complete their updates in a timely manner so as to avoid any missed tests and possible sanctions for Wherabouts violations. If a particular rider has difficulty in managing this responsibility, the team should ensure they are given all the appropriate tools and knowledge to stay up to date.
A review of supplement usage should also be completed with the team doctors assembling to discuss, in details, the varying views that exist in regard to supplementation and to ensure that only permitted supplements be given to team riders. Following this should be a controlled supply of team-acquired supplements so that riders and or staff do not have to seek outside purchase where the exact contents of a supplement cannot be controlled.
In addition the Vance Report suggests its findings should be passed onto the UCI with a longer list of recommendations to help clean up the sport and ensure that public faith can be restored in the sport. Findings and feedback should also be discussed with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority to improve policies and procedures relating to the Whereabouts system along with more random testing at all levels of the sport for men and women; Continental and Professional Continental.
Findings and continued support should also be included in any talks with the Movement for Credible Cycling, Mouvement pour un Cyclisme Crédible (MPCC).
The summary report can be found here.
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