Monday, January 24, 2011

Morals Clause

Jonathan Vaughters (L) and Matt White
This blog is long overdue for a reader poll, and this time I want to hear what you think about Sunday’s firing of Garmin-CervĂ©lo directeur sportif Matt White.  Search the cycling forums and you’ll see that this issue is hotly debated by the fans, both on its specifics and on the underlying motives of CEO Jonathan Vaughters.  My own take is this: in a sport whose credibility with the general public is so damaged by doping scandals, the mere appearance of impropriety is grounds for censure.

I applauded Rabobank when it removed Michael Rasmussen from the 2007 Tour de France.  Remember why the team took that action?  Rasmussen didn’t test positive for any banned substance; his “crime” was that he had failed to provide a complete and accurate account of his whereabouts while training before the Tour.  Rasmussen appeared to be avoiding out-of-competition doping controls, and that appearance of impropriety cost him the maillot jaune, his job and his reputation.

Perhaps there was nothing nefarious in White’s recommendation of Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral to rider Trent Lowe—and, as the incident happened way back in April 2009, the trail is cold—but I say it’s better to be safe than sorry.  White is at least guilty of violating the terms of his employment.  The doctor may be guilty of considerably more.  Cycling needs to wake up to something our mothers have been telling us since we were little: you’re known by the company you keep.

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