Jonathan Vaughters has warned that focusing on the names of the positive and suspicious athletes listed in the French Senate’s report from the 1998 Tour de France detracts from the main essence and findings within the actual dossier.
On Wednesday morning, the French Senate delivered their report after having interviewed over 83 individuals including Pat McQuaid, Travis Tygart and Laurent Jalabert in a time frame going back to February. The report wasn’t a singular expose into systematic doping from that year’s race, instead the committee branched out into several sports, including cycling, and asked several key questions before making recommendations for the future.
“I suppose that knowing that these tests can be done years later is a good deterrent and a good lesson for current riders. In 1998, they thought that EPO was never going to be detectable so it’s an interesting angle that your samples can be tested years later. That’s a good thing,” Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
“I find it a little disappointing that people are concerned with or looking for some definitive list because the reality is that if you look at the stats, probably less than one third of riders in the race were even tested for it. I don’t really think the list has any particular validity in terms of who was and who wasn’t.”
The list of names including the 1998 Tour winner Marco Pantani and second placed rider Jan Ullrich, the latter who has already admitted to doping during his career. Third placed rider Bobby Julich was listed under suspicious but admitted to doping during the race in October last year. However the names listed are best described as a collection of doped riders than a complete picture or resister of those that cheated.
“You don’t have to look much further than Tyler Hamilton as a example. He raced the 1998 Tour. He was second place in the time trial to Jan Ullrich and he’s admitted to doping during that period and he wasn’t on the list. It’s a bit of a futile exercise to assume that the guys who are on the list are naughty and the guys not on the list are good. That’s just not understanding the issue and it’s a considerable oversimplification of the issue too,” Vaughters said.
“Once the police raids started many of the team threw away or stopped doping. I would say after three or four days after the Festina scandal broke you would have a large number of riders who would test negative but that doesn’t eliminate the large probability that they doped up to the start of the event. Again, I’m not accusing anyone, that’s just my observation from that time.”
“People are more interested in the names than the content of the report and what the report is looking at. To overlook the entire report and everything it delved into and all the recommendations for change and how to prevent it happening again, that’s unfortunate. It clearly states that there’s been a lot of progress and that’s something that people should pay more attention to.”
The Senate ruled that they had no powers to strip any of the results from the race with the winner and podium positions set to remain, at least in the short term. That’s a contrast to the next seven Tours, which have no winner after USADA stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven wins from 1999 to 2005.
“The way that all of these cases need to be treated, they probably need to be standardized by WADA. There are all kinds of circumstances that play a part in each individual case. I think that those individual circumstances need to be taken into account each and every time.”
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