Blog Posts, Gary's Blog

Don’t Look Back in Anger

11.06.13 | 2 Comments

Or: A few words in support of our JV

Jonathan-VaughtersJust when you were about to dismiss Michael Rasmussen’s revelations, we were treated to the news that Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal had collaborated with the USADA investigation and ‘fessed up to using performance enhancing drugs during 2003. Garmin team owner Jonathan Vaughters stood by his man – and winner of the 2012 Giro d’Italia – and immediately found himself in the middle of a bit of a media shitstorm.  (Best gloss over the “ecosystem” thing tho’, shall we?)

How many other of your riders doped before 2008? Who are they?  Surely you must have asked?  How can we believe in Garmin now?

To my mind, these questions fundamentally miss the point of Garmin’s ethos which, you’ll of course remember, is to show that riders in the modern era can win races  – to use their pledge – 100% clean.  From the outset, Vaughters has stated that he expects riders to  be truthful – whatever that truth may be – and work towards a cleaner future, in fact a cleaner present, with those riders.   How else would you explain David Millar as your team leader and indeed co-owner?

Like Team Sky before them, Garmin now find themselves embroiled in the same sort of crap that only seems to affect those teams with a clear stance on anti-doping.  (Neal Rogers’ “The Curious Case of the Garmin Three” in volume 3 of the excellent Cycling Anthology is a timely case study here.)  Their’s is essentially  that what’s done is done and it’s the future that counts, while Sky remain resolutely (if clumsily) zero tolerance.  As I’ve said on the Pod, I believe that the former is the way to go.  Where the other 17 teams who competed in this year’s UCI World Tour stand is less clear.  Remember that.

So just how many more Garmin riders doped prior to signing on the dotted line for JV?  Who are they?  We know of Dave Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde and Tom Danielson, all of whom were sanctioned following USADA’s reasoned decision into the US Postal unpleasantness but for many, “who else?” is a key question.  But what would answering this really achieve?  Truth, but possibly not reconciliation.

At what point, then, do we simply accept that professional cycling in 2013 – to borrow the slightly annoying phrase trotted out regularly during the 2012 Tour by Garmin’s previously highest-placed GC man, Bradley Wiggins – is what it is?  Yes, other riders may have been cheated out of medals, UCI points, world titles.  Yes, the perceived narrative of Hesjedal’s Giro win has been altered, although there’s no evidence to suggest it was anything other than clean.  And as a fan, I for one do not feel I’ve been let down by Garmin, Hesjedal, cycling, journalists or the UCI as a result of last week’s revelations.

So what does continued blood-letting and hand-wringing (not to mention self-righteous social media arseholery) do?  Right now, I see little more than perhaps proving a few people right and leaving the history books littered with asterisks.




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