In an up front and honestly written piece in The New York Times, Jonathan Vaughters, the manager of Garmin-Sharp team and a voice in the anti-doping movement, has come clean about his past life as professional cyclist. It’s something he’s not proud of but with the pressure of a dream to make the ‘big time’ he was unable to fight the desire to get "that last 2 percent".
"The choice to kiss your childhood dream goodbye or live with a dishonest heart is horrid and tearing. I’ve been there, and I know. I chose to lie over killing my dream. I chose to dope. I am sorry for that decision, and I deeply regret it. The guilt I felt led me to retire from racing and start a professional cycling team where that choice was taken out of the equation through rigorous testing and a cultural shift that emphasized racing clean above winning," Vaughters wrote.
Vaughters has long stood by his stance against doping since his retirement, enforcing strict policies within his team and being vocal with the general public about his thoughts and ideas on how to fight doping within cycling. His opinions have always been projected through his team and his belief that it is possible to win clean despite his "colourful past".
"The answer is not to teach young athletes that giving up lifelong dreams is better than giving in to cheating. The answer is to never give them the option. The only way to eliminate this choice is to put our greatest efforts into [the] anti-doping enforcement."
Despite the tough line against doping in sport, Vaughters has welcomed those who have cheated in the past into his team, providing the proper measures have been taken by both athlete and his team, to ensure they are on the ‘clean’ path. David Millar and Thomas Dekker were welcomed back into the sport through the Garmin team and Millar has since become a spokesperson in the fight against doping.
Vaughters has long had a cloud hanging above him due to his time spent at US Postal and the ongoing case into systematic doping in the team during the years of Lance Armstrong. However, having finally admitted his poor choices during his time as a professional, he is ready to turn his attention and efforts back towards ensuring the younger generation are not faced with such decisions as they attempt to pursue their own dreams.
"Everyone wants a fair chance, not more. So, let’s give our young athletes a level playing field, without doping. Let’s put our effort and resources into making sport fair, so that no athlete faces this decision ever again. We put so much emotion into marketing and idolizing athletes, let’s put that same zeal into giving them what they really want: the ability to live their dreams without compromising their morals."