Jonathan Vaughters of Garmin-Sharp has hired a number of ex-dopers to his team – and is one himself. He did not sign Jörg Jaksche when the German had served out his doping ban, but it had nothing to do with "omerta" or black-listing in the peloton – it was simply due to a personality conflict.
Writing openly in the Cyclingnews forum, Vaughters further said that Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie had doped in the past, bluntly discussed personalities on the team and discussed his standards for hiring riders, all the while relating virtually all of it to doping.
"CVV, Zabriskie, Danielson, while all clearly have a past, and from an ethical standpoint are no different from JJ, there is a very pragmatic difference," wrote Vaughters. "That difference is performance based. Basically, I knew from what my time at USPS, how "inside" or not those riders were. Based on this, I knew their transgressions, while ethically the same as JJ's, were much less in terms of enhancing performance. Therefore, I knew they could perform close to their enhanced level, clean."
He was specific about Danielson, and how he looked to solve the rider's problem. "So, Tommy D... Here's a guy that has used o2 vector doping, and with some success [Oxygen vector doping refers to increasing oxygen delivery to the muscles via increased hemoglobin, ed.]. But when you test him, without o2 vector doping, you quickly see this guy has massive aerobic ability. O2 transport isn't the limiting factor with his body/mind. However, he is not a mentally strong athlete. He succumbs to nerves and pressure very easily.
"So, in looking at his physiology and psychology, the rate limiting factor is the latter, not the former. So, working on that makes huge strides. Giving him o2 vector doping is akin to putting a bigger engine in a car with a flat tire, because you want it to go faster. yes, it will make the car with the flat tire go faster, but you could just go ahead and fix the flat tire instead?"
What are his requirements for hiring someone? Ex-doper or clean rider, "I treat them the same. With one condition: That they will ride clean on my team.
"How do I pick? Talent, work ethic, and personality. the above things aren't part of my consideration, because quite frankly taking the Sky/new suisse team stance on "we're hiring no one with a known history in doping" is just stupid in cycling today. It's just glorifying those who managed to slip by and damning those who got caught, even though the crime is exactly the same. It's ethically untenable for me.
"So, I do it in a way that i get some **** for hiring Millar and Dekker, and I get some **** for not hiring Jackshe [sic, ed.], but I can sleep knowing that I'm not choosing based on public perception or some BS PR strategy. Just on how they will ride, clean."
And when accused of writing specifically about some of his own riders while being vague about his own past, he wrote:
"I didn't go into any details about anyone. No names. Nothing. Same as me. All that will be public, eventually. That's been an inevitability for almost 3 yrs now. Just wait."
Why Jaksche didn't ride for Vaughters
Jaksche told Cyclingnews this week that he was unable to get a new contract after his ban expired due to hypocrisy within the sport. Vaughters, however, strongly denied that.
"Have any of you ever met Jackshe [sic, ed.]? Sorry, but his confession, level of transparency has nothing to do with my decision on him. Good for him to come clean!" he wrote. "I still would not hire the guy! I had my original $10M investor telling me I should hire hire him. And? Still I said NO! Why? Because he won't fit in and he won't perform well. That's my subjective judgement. Period."
Going into more detail, he said, "Jorge loved to gossip gossip gossip during his time in the peloton. He loved calling anyone and everyone else a doper. He was always intent on figuring out the new, next best method. He's a very smart guy.
"So, quite simply, I don't want that personality on my team.
"As for non-performance, Jorge didn't think of himself as a worker, he wanted to be a leader. I didn't think he had the physiological or social qualities to be a leader. Nor did I think he'd accept being a worker."
Vaughters also explained his reasons for signing David Millar and Thomas Dekker after they had returned from their doping bans. Millar had "physiological qualities to perform clean. Not as good as before, but damn good."
Dekker had the those same possibilities, but it "remains to be seen if he can handle the role shift now that he isn't quite as fast."
In fact, he was quite blunt in his assessment of the Dutch rider. "Thomas is an arrogant prick. Or was. hugely insecure guy. It's been a lot of work with him. A lot...."