Matt White is to be credited for his admission of doping while a rider for Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service team and standing down from his positions with Cycling Australia and Orica-GreenEDGE pending investigation, but should he go further and resign?
As you can imagine the answer is a complex one but I’d split the baby, so to speak. White should resign his post with Cycling Australia but whatever Orica-GreenEDGE chooses to do is their business, as a business.
White is a two-time loser in the doping game, first there was his firing from Slipstream Sports for sending then rider Trent Lowe to the now infamous Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral who had worked at the US Postal team when Lance Armstrong was at his dominant best, and now the latest revelations that he doped while a rider with the US Postal Service team.
Poll: Should Matt White resign from his posts?
We’ve had a short terse statement from Orica-GreenEDGE but thankfully Cycling Australia has been expansive in its approach with their president Klaus Meuller making himself freely available to media questions over the weekend.
"We will also look at the processes we have in place in relation to the appointment of staff to positions within the organisation," said Mueller. "Are we asking the questions we should be in light of this week's revelations and if not then we need to make sure in future we do."
Good stuff, transparent and confronting the situation head on. Still I can’t help but wonder where Cycling Australia was when they were considering White’s appointment to the position - there was obvious baggage.
There are some who give White a pass, saying that his work in cycling today has nothing to do with the past, but the more recent Garcia del Moral/Trent Lowe incident suggests otherwise. It’s also important to remember that White would not be where he is today if it were not for his success as a rider, a success that we now know was not achieved on ‘bread and water’ alone.
It’s important that Cycling Australia be seen to do the right thing, make a statement and show that reward must not come from past indiscretion.
Orica-GreenEDGE on the other hand has a two-fold problem, White is not the only ex-pro with a past working for the team. As the Melbourne Age’s Samantha Lane noted in a must read opinion piece, there is also Neil Stephens, compromised because he was involved in the Festina Affair. Neil Stephens is another sports director with the team and his connection to the Festina doping scandal of 1998 is well known. Never charged, Stephens presumably won his role at Orica-GreenEDGE to work under long-time friend Shayne Bannan, the former head of the national cycling program, on that basis. But everything in cycling needs to be re-stated now as one can only imagine that White would have protested his innocence before the US Anti-Doping Agency mounted its case against Armstrong. As I said in an earlier post much of what we see today can only be attributed to wilful blindness on the part of those who should have known.
Many of the now retired veterans, particularly those who rode with Armstrong or US Postal Service, still insist they saw nothing even when the historical or circumstantial evidence suggest they had to have known about doping. Even though there is no evidence that they themselves dipped into the medicine cabinet.
Surely, with so much of this now on the record, these denials must stop and riders and team directors must own up to what they saw and heard, there can be no real change otherwise.