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Jonathan Vaughters (Garmin-Sharp)
“You cannot change history but you can change the direction forward"
Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters has questioned Sky’s latest anti-doping policy, in which all riders and staff must sign a declaration confirming that they have no past or present involvement in doping in order to remain at the team.
“It’s just not the correct course for them to try and change history. They would be better served by realising that people of that generation [who doped] do have a lot to commit and contribute,” Vaughters told The Telegraph.
Sky manager Dave Brailsford announced the new measure on Wednesday evening in the wake of former rider Michael Barry’s recent admission of doping during his time at US Postal and his own belated decision to dispense with the services of former Rabobank doctor Geert Leinders. While Vaughters could understand the theory behind Sky’s move, he wondered if it might prove to be counter-productive and push riders towards further dishonesty.
“It’s just so difficult to ever figure out if a person signing the paper is telling the truth or not and it runs the risk of forcing people into a situation where they have to lie,” Vaughters said. “You are given a piece of paper and told to sign and if we find out you were lying, then you are sacked. But if you don’t sign it you are sacked as well. You are pushing people towards dishonesty. I appreciate the idealism but it just feels like it is twisting a little bit more towards forcing people to be dishonest.”
Vaughters recently confessed to doping during his own racing career and provided evidence to USADA in its investigation into Lance Armstrong and the doping system at US Postal, while his Garmin-Sharp team includes three riders – Dave Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde and Tom Danielson – who also confessed to doping during their time at US Postal and are currently serving suspension.
Rather than seek to expunge the past, Vaughters maintains that it is better to learn from the experiences of previous generations, saying: “I just don’t see that team management’s responsibility is to chase ghosts from the past.”
“Sky have a great organisation, they have great people in that organisation that are committed to clean racing, but do some of those people potentially have a history? Of course, but that is the history of the sport. It isn’t unique to the people Sky have hired,” he said.
“You cannot change history but you can change the direction forward and you can use the people who have encountered that history and probably didn’t really like that history. By just throwing some of them to the side, you are eliminating the knowledge base of how to prevent doping, you are completely pushing it to the side, eliminating all of that experience and the emotion of people who had to live through a doping era.”