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Garmin manager Jonathan Vaughters
Says Contador positive overshadows progress in war on doping
Could the discovery of a test for blood transfusions be the saving grace for cycling in the war against doping? Jonathan Vaughters, the manager of Garmin-Transitions certainly believes so. However the anti-doping advocate told Cyclingnews that despite a possible scientific breakthrough, the headlines surrounding Alberto Condator’s recent positive for Clenbuterol and recent revelation about plasticizers have overshadowed the positive progress against the war on doping.
“Transfusions were the last effective stronghold for cheating within cycling,” Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
“There are a millions of little things that people can experiment with but I think blood transfusions were the only truly effective means that could change human performance or the results of a race that were difficult to find by the passport,” he said referring to the UCI’s biological passport.
“The test is being overlooked and I don’t understand why that is. If it’s true that a test for autologous blood transfusions, has taken place, well for me that’s the best news I’ve heard in anti-doping in a long time. It’s incredibly good news.”
Vaughters runs one of the most successful teams in the sport, but the foundations of his squad were primarily based on their ethical stance on doping. He studies every rider’s blood passport data before signing them, well aware that his rhetoric on doping put him and his riders further under the microscope than most.
“As far as someone who has to manage athletes and their expectations and goals, knowing that there’s a transfusion test out there is great news to all of my athletes.
“From someone who stands behind the curtain in professional cycling and knows the behind-the-scenes, that’s great news. I really don’t think that you’ll find many riders out there that don’t think it’s great news.”
Vaughters could not comment on whether he knew of blood transfusions taking place during this year’s Tour de France but he did tell Cyclingnews: “All I know is that if we’ve got a good test then it would absolutely short circuit that possibility for the future.”
Cyclingnews spoke to David Walsh, author of From Lance to Landis and another anti-doping advocate. His views on the current climate within cycling were less positive; however he did recognise that a generation of new riders were helping to change the sport. One of those riders was Vaughters’ young fledgling, Dan Martin.
“I saw Martin win a stage of the Tour of Poland. It was fantastic. I looked at him and I thought, my god, that’s how cyclists used to do it. The effort he was making, the exhaustion, I just though yes, that’s the sport that I used to love. Sadly we don’t see enough of that. Your heart goes out to young riders like that,” Walsh told Cyclingnews.
For Vaughters though, the sensationalism and scandal have pushed the recognition for a breakthrough test into the back seat. In a position where each doping case harms the potential growth of his and every other team, the American has called for WADA and the new test to be recognised as a success.
“As far I’m concerned the test makes me feel very confident on where things are headed. When there’s a major breakthrough like that it should be big news.”