It must have been a bitter-sweet day today for Garmin-Cervelo.
On the day that Cameron Meyer wins the Tour Down Under his team, Garmin-Cervlo, sack their directeur sportif, Matt White, after discovering that he referred Trent Lowe to the former US Postal team physician Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral at the Sports Institute of Valencia in April 2009.
Chief executive Jonathan Vaughters said: “We live by the standards we have set for ourselves. We cannot allow this vital team rule to be broken.”
“Slipstream Sports has an explicit internal policy that all medical referrals are approved by our medical staff.
“In this instance, this vital rule was broken. As a result, the board of directors has dismissed Matt White.”
This may have all been innocent but for a team committed to 100% clean, it is a very welcome departure from the normal excuses and reasons why something happened. Like “I ate some beef my best friend’s mum brought me and it was contaminated with a banned substance”.
Cycling has done a fantastic job in starting to clean itself up but still has some way to go. I accept that it far easier to type those words than for them to be put into practice. But if cycling is to clean up its image there can be no quarter. There can be no long drawn out process. It has to be, if you test positive, you’re banned. Anything else will been seen as and probably is a sham. Riders must take personal responsibility for what they ingest. And if in the middle of a race like le Tour, only eat what the team chef prepares for you. If you don’t, then you do so at your own risk. And if you test positive for doping, start packing. Period. No excuses. No drawn out appeal.
So back to the case in hand. Trent Lowe, who no longer rides for Garmin, met with del Moral for a Vo2 test which contravened the team’s strict anti-doping and medical referral rules. And with the allegations surrounding Lance Armstrong when he was with US Postal, you have to wonder at the niaviety of White in referring a rider to anyone associated with that team, no matter how innocent they are.
So chapeau to Garmin for living up to their ethics and showing that Clean is not just a tacky PR strapline but demonstrates their determination to clean up cycling.