Garmin-Sharp team boss Jonathan Vaughters has denied that he nor anyone else involved with Slipstream Sports, the owners of the team, have been given a six-month ban by the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) in the wake of this morning's reports in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
The front page of this morning's edition carried a report saying that Vaughters has been named - alongside American riders Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie - as a witness in USADA's ongoing Lance Armstrong doping investigation.
The article claims that the four riders have all confessed to doping and have testified against seven-time Tour De France winner Armstrong. The paper says that they have all been given six-month bans from cycling by USADA, which will kick in at the end of the season, in exchange for their compliance. The paper also named Vaughters as a witness but stopped short of categorically stating that he had been suspended too.
Vaughters, who is in France leading his team at the Tour, has used his Twitter account to issue a denial: "Regarding the Dutch media report: no 6mos (sic) suspensions have been given to any member of Slipstream Sports. Today or at any future date."
In the Garmin team hotel in France this morning, Zabriskie stated that the matter was now with USADA and refused to confirm or deny if he has testified.
Later this morning Slipstream Sports released a statement, which reads:
"Our sole focus is on Slipstream Sports. We created Slipstream because we wanted to create a team where cyclists could compete 100 percent clean. It is an organization built on the core values of honesty, fairness and optimism. Slipstream is built on the belief in our ability to contribute to changing the sport's future through a persistent commitment to the present.
"As we have always said, we expect that anyone in our organization who is contacted by any anti-doping or government authority will be open and honest with that authority but at this moment, we - our organization, our riders and our staff - are focused on the Tour de France. We won our first Grand Tour in May and to achieve similar success here, we need to focus on that. We can confirm that our Tour team is entirely focused on the Tour and media reports of suspensions are untrue."