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Orica-GreenEdge's Stuart O'Grady (left) and sports director Matt White before the start of the Down Under Classic in Adelaide.
Former sports director has offers, wants return to former role
With his back-dated doping suspension over Matt White is hungry to return to the sport of cycling and has his heart set on reinstatement to the Orica GreenEdge he helped to set-up. However White's ambitions are on ice as he waits for a set of recommendations Nicki Vance is set to make on Australian Cycling.
White was forced to step aside from his roles with Cycling Australia and GreenEdge last year after his name appeared in USADA Reasoned Decision. The US anti-doping agency had investigated allegations centred around Lance Armstrong and his US Postal squad, a team White had raced for. White confessed to doping and stood aside before telling ASADA all he knew.
"At the end of day if you look at the facts I had three choices to make after the USADA report came out: I could have lied. There was no hard evidence against me, you have to remember. All there was were allegations from athletes who had seen things more than a decade ago. Secondly I could have told half truths and just agreed with what was on the Reasoned Decision which was outside the statute of limitations. That meant I wouldn't have had to speak to any agency or anti-doping body. Or I could have told the truth and cooperate, tell my 100 per cent truth, draw a line and then try and move on," White told Cyclingnews.
In the aftermath White came clean and offered ASADA what he says was the complete truth into his own doping as a rider. His stance cost him his job though with Orica GreenEdge forcing themselves into a corner based around their zero tolerance policy. If White had been working with Argos-Shimano or was still at Garmin he would have likely kept his job.
White sat out the next few months and watched on as only a handful of other riders came forward and told the truth. Most of those that did tell the truth had little choice but those that did generally paid the price. There were murmurs of amnesty but in the drip, drip period of confessions Bobby Julich, White and Steven De Jongh all lost their jobs.
"I didn't know if I was going to get six months or a year and I certainly didn't have any deals offered to me by ASADA," White says.
"There had been times in the last sixth months where I had questioned whether I'd made the right decision or not and I'd be lying if I said it was an easy six months.
"Zero tolerance equals zero progress but there are 22 or so redacted names and the majority of them have answered to no one and are still working in cycling."
Part of the issue for White lies in the fact that he thinks cycling had already turned a corner and that if it was to move on it needed to look at an era in the sport rather than just one team.
"I disagree with how some things have been handled from certain parties. This shouldn't have been an investigation into one team. It should have been an investigation into an entire era. That hasn't happened. So we need to draw that line and move on. What we're talking about now doesn't have any relevance for the likes of Meyer, Durbridge and Hepburn. They don't know what we're talking about because they've never been exposed to the culture that I was exposed to in the 90s. They're the ones who are paying for the negative publicity now.
"There needs to be an amnesty where we give everyone the chance to tell the truth. If they don't do that then we can throw the book at them but you've got to give people the opportunity to get their pasts off their backs. At the moment no one has come forward."
"I was part of one of the most negative and destructive cultures within professional sport. I've also seen that change dramatically. It's been gradual when I first came into cycling drugs were there and they weren't being hidden and the most positive thing today is that kids don't have to see that culture. Go look at track and field where you've got more Russian athletes going positive in the last six months than cycling has had on an international stage."
White has spent the last seven months on the sidelines but he remains close to the sport. He has found an ear to his frustrations in former teammate and friend David Millar, himself a former a doper who has rebuilt his reputation as a voice against doping.
"I'm good mates with David Millar and I saw what he went through. He's an example of someone who has told the truth and still had credibility. I spoke to him about things at the time. We've been through a lot together and during that period where I did question what I should do I did speak with David. He's someone I have a lot of respect for and he was good when I was venting some of my frustrations."
Now White must wait on Vance's report before his future can be determined. He admitted that offers have come in but that the prospect of working at Orica GreenEdge remains his first choice.
"That's definitely the place where I'd prefer to end up. I put a lot into the team and I have lot of close friends there. I've definitely got a passion for that team more than any other."