Jonathan Vaughters is supporting Dave Zabriskie after the Garmin-Transitions rider was alleged to have taken EPO by Floyd Landis. Zabriskie is currently leading the Amgen Tour of California, a race he finished second in last year, and his team boss Vaughters told Cyclingnews that, “He can win this race with clear conscience and an open heart, and I think he will.”
Vaughters' support of his rider comes less than twenty-four hours after Landis accused several professional riders, including former-teammates Zabriskie and Lance Armstrong of doping practices. Armstrong is also currently racing in California.
With four more stages remaining in the race Zabriskie holds a slender lead on the general classification. Vaughters said he will not consider pulling his rider from the race, despite the potentially damning, but as yet totally unfounded allegations.
“Our next step is to win this race clean and under any level of scrutiny that any one would like to place on us. We’ve always been a completely open book as far as anti-doping authorities [and] scrutiny from the media [are concerned]. We’ve never closed doors on anyone and anything,” Vaughters said.
The team were created at the start of 2008 and quickly built a solid reputation has outspoken practitioners of clean cycling. Despite limited success in their first year the team have strengthened into one of the most competitive squads in the peloton, while also still advocating a no-needles policy. “We were created to support riders who are committed to clean cycling and it’s going to continue to be that way.”
Asked what the team’s next steps would be Vaughters said: “What were going to do is simply move forward in making sure that sport in general and this team is clean and real. We’re simply absolutely committed to the future of cycling and what we’re doing right here and right now. That’s been our line since the beginning.”
Vaughters was also quick to add that the team would not pull Zabriskie from the race and that he himself had expressed no desire to leave. “No, absolutely not. He can win this race and do it clean. He can win this race with clear conscience and an open heart and I think he will.
“My conversation with Dave was very simple. I just said to him you can and will win this race clean and we’ll support you in that mission. He’s a private person but he seems very resolved to continue the race and to win.”
The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) have expressed a desire speak to Landis about his accusations, and Vaughters, who has worked with WADA in the past, is keen for all avenues to be explored in order for the truth to be uncovered. “Obviously it’s the duty of the governing bodies and authorities to seek the truth. That’s their job and I’ve very supportive of them completing their job.”