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2004 winner Pat Jonker gets the adulation of the crowd
Ex-US Postal rider believes in second chances
Former US Postal rider Patrick Jonker says that while Matt White is a great tactician and motivator, the sport is living in an "irrational world" and that perhaps a zero tolerance approach is required if the sport is to gain the trust of the fans, sponsors and general public. He does however believe that someone like White still has plenty to offer the sport in the future.
White was officially dismissed from his role as sports director at Orica-GreenEdge following his involvement at US Postal and subsequent identification in USADA's Reasoned Decision document. White later confessed to being a part of "a team where doping formed part of the team's strategy."
"It's really sad. I know him [White] as a great motivator and one of the reasons he was such a great rider was his ability to motivate a team. I think he's a massive asset to any team, he's a great tactician and coach but in today's current environment I think we need zero tolerance," Jonker told Cyclingnews.
"White's case is a little bit different", says Jonker who added that he "strongly believes in second chances, especially in Matt's case."
"Matt White was caught up in the wrong team at the wrong time. That shouldn't affect his whole future but unfortunately it is at the moment."
Jonker, who spent the 2000 season with US Postal says that the sport is going through a tough time and that his own credibility has been questioned because of his time spent with the US squad. Jonker remains proud of his time with the team and firmly stands by his position that he never saw anything. He admits however, he was only there for one season and didn't ride a grand tour while at the team - which could have made difference he says.
"You can hold a shotgun to my head and say 'you have to tell the truth, the whole truth' and it's like ‘I did not see any drugs at US Postal, no I did not take any performance-enhancing drugs and no I did not see Lance Armstrong [take] and he never talked about performance-enhancing drugs with me," Jonker told Cyclingnews.
"I never did a grand tour so, maybe that was why I was never exposed. I don't know.
"Even my mum asks 'are you sure you didn't see anything at US Postal?' because I was proud to be with US Postal Service. I've got a poster of the US Postal Service team."
The way to restore trust in the sport is for complete transparency to continue. Jonker compares the situation of professional cycling to that of an "Armageddon" but believes that the current batch of riders will be eventually respected for their achievements - providing the anti-doping efforts are continued.
"No one really believes it but I can understand. It's not every single rider. That's the message really.
"The sport is going through Armageddon but I think what we have to respect is the current transparency with the Blood Passport and everything else that is being done.
"No one can really say anything rationale at the moment but what we can say is that the current crop of professional cyclists...cycling is one of the most transparent sports right now but unfortunately it won't be respected for that for a number of years."