Should White have gone?

Al Hinds

Matt White, Cycling Australia, doping, Orica-GreenEDGE
Former Orica-GreenEDGE Sporting Director Matt White (SirottI)
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A fortnight ago my colleague Philip Gomes asked the simple question, "Should White go?" in an article that came out just a day before Matt White's contract was terminated by Cycling Australia.

Poll: Should White have been sacked?

His main role with Orica-GreenEDGE however remained intact. When Cycling Central asked team general manager Shayne Bannan about White's future with the team at the time, Bannan replied that the team would not feel it necessary to do anything quickly, as they were still waiting for the full facts to come out.

He added that Orica-GreenEDGE would prefer to wait for a full investigation to be conducted by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), before the team made a final decision on White.

Today, White has been formally sacked by the team, before the full ASADA investigation has taken place, and without any new information surrounding White's past revealed.

“The team believes a hard-line approach is an essential prerequisite to continue in the sport with credibility," said Orica-GreenEDGE owner Gerry Ryan.

What has changed in a fortnight is beyond me. I agree with the decision to terminate White, but less for his past as a rider, and more for the decision to recommend Trent Lowe to the disgraced Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral.

But all this was already known.

Two weeks ago, Orica-GreenEDGE had a choice. To stand by White for his work with the team as an integral member of the team's success and a key part of its formation - or - to let him go.

A hypothetical team statement from the team may have read:

"Yes we are disappointed by Matt's actions in his past, but we choose to accept that and move on with the future. Matt will work with ASADA and fully co-operate with their investigation before rejoining us in his role."

Equally, the team could have sacked him, as Cycling Australia did.

Deferring a decision however reflects poorly on all parties. More so when one considers other riders and staff still involved with the team also have questionable pasts.

If the team is to go hard on White and embrace a 'clean' image, it needs to realise that those actions are hypocritical in the context of actively hiring riders and staff with such pasts.

The same is true of Team Sky, which until only recently had espoused a 'clean image' and yet hired the riders and staff it did. The controversial Dr. Geert Leinders was told his contract with Sky would not be renewed by the team earlier this month after the best part of three years of employment with the team. An internal investigation was hushed up, and slow in reaching a decision. So much for "zero tolerance".

Sean Yates's 'retirement' release treated the cycling public as naive, and suspicions (now confirmed) over Michael Barry's past are not exactly new.

I applaud Orica-GreenEDGE and Team Sky for conducting what appear to be comprehensive reviews of their teams and in GreenEDGE's words "audit the rigour and effectiveness of the team’s anti-doping policies and procedures."

But what the cycling public demands is consistency and transparency. And in both teams' cases, I'm yet to see that.

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