Jonathan Vaughters has confirmed to Cyclingnews that he is in the process of testing Thomas Dekker with a view to possibly signing him to Garmin-Cervélo’s development team, although no contract has yet been discussed between the two parties.
Dekker, 26, will return to cycling on July 2 after serving a two-year suspension for EPO usage but as yet has not found a professional team. He last rode for Lotto at the start of the 2009 season, before his ban was announced.
“He still has not completed all the physiological testing I’ve asked,” Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
“Until he does that, I don’t have a full enough picture to decide anything. We have an open door policy for guys that are ready to be part of the solution in a productive way.
“If Thomas is successful in showing he has the physiological capability of competing clean, then we would consider testing him on the Continental team.”
The American team already has a full roster on their ProTeam squad but a move to its Continental outfit Chipotle Development Team would give Dekker a transition period back into the professional ranks. However, for the time being Vaughters is clear that Dekker must satisfy his stringent testing before he can be given a chance.
“I’ve asked Thomas to complete a series of tests that cross correlate red blood cell count, off score, haemoglobin, haematocrit with power output, lactate clearance and oxygen uptake. This helps to determine his body’s ability to complete clean,” Vaughters said.
“However the series is not complete and therefore I can’t say one way or another. So, no, there is no agreement.”
Dekker had been in negotiations with Garmin back in 2008 and the two men met after the Tour de France that year but Vaughters never offered the Dutch rider a contract and he subsequently signed for Lotto.
“It’s a slow process,” added Vaughters, “but history has shown us that it’s a mistake to bring an athlete off suspension back to the top level without a measured rehabilitation period.”
Vaughters also requested that Dekker agree to contact WADA and open up about his past. As well as his positive for EPO, Dekker was also linked to the HumanPlasma doping scandal, something that Vaughters is well aware of.
“I asked him to contact WADA and offer his total cooperation with any questions they have on that. That was a condition to even be considered. Not to sign.”