Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal’s overdue confession to having danced with the doping devil a decade ago got Anthony Tan mad as hell. It’s left him, and many others, with a bunch of questions that he’s asked the Canadian’s Garmin-Sharp boss Jonathan Vaughters to explain – but so far remain unanswered.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

Thursday last, after uploading last week's Cycling Central podcast, less than thirty minutes had passed before I received a terse direct message from Garmin-Sharp team manager and CEO of Slipstream Sports, Jonathan Vaughters.

"Walk a mile in a man's shoes before you judge him. And never talk to me again, because you lack perspective."

I replied: 'Fine by me. And I don't need to dope to gain perspective.'

To which he responded: "Nor intelligence."

Admittedly, after Ryder Hesjedal, one of his star riders and 2012 Giro d'Italia champion, belatedly confessed to EPO use a decade after the fact, I laid into the Canadian and his Denver, Colorado based employer with a series of verbal roundhouse kicks, uppercuts, and blows to the groin. Like online editor Phil Gomes said, who, along with Al Hinds, was sitting next to me, I was over it.

Besides a carefully worded statement from the team, the pair had gone to ground. As far I as I was concerned, missing was a real sense of contrition; an adequate and thorough explanation; a pledge to atone for not just the mistake of having doped – one time, two times, twenty, one hundred, we still don't know – but having kept silent for so long.

At the start of the second chapter of Unreliable Memoirs, Clive James' seminal chronicle of his early childhood as a rough-and-tumble rascal from Sydney's working class southern suburbs, he wrote: "I wanted my mistakes forgotten, not faced up to – the foundations of a bad habit."

Mistakes. Forgotten. Not faced up to. Bad habits.

A few hours later, I received an email from Vaughters.

Subject: Apologies

"Anthony, Sorry for my harsh remarks to you on twitter. There's no need for that. You are entitled to your opinion and I respect that."


The following day, having slept on it, I emailed him back, accepting his apology (I'm certainly not beyond reproach and on occasion, emotions get the better of me) and attached a list of questions, which I've reproduced below.

"Feel free to answer all (or none) of them, but this is your chance to provide that 'perspective'," I wrote.

Questions for Jonathan Vaughters

1. Why did it take Ryder Hesjedal this long to admit to his past transgressions?

2. Did you encourage him to confess, or did he make the decision himself, after the release of an excerpt from Michael Rasmussen's book?

3. It seems that if Rasmussen had not written about Hesjedal's EPO use, he would have not come clean to the public, nor would you have encouraged him to do so. How do you respond to that?

4. Your team ethos is founded on a principle of being completely transparent; I take it that means being open and honest with everyone, including the public.

So why was Hesjedal's name not included in your October 10, 2012 team statement, where Slipstream Sports made it known that Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie had used PEDs? ("By coming forward and sharing their history," your statement said, "they have lived up to the promise that we as an organization made to the world when we founded Slipstream.")

5. In light of the release of USADA's Reasoned Decision the same day, was this not the best (and perhaps final) opportunity to do come clean, in terms of garnering public acceptance of such admission/s? (Hesjedal testified to USADA and CCES [Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport] more than a year ago, after all…)

6. In your October 2012 team statement, it said: "While it is important to acknowledge pride in the fact that cycling has never been cleaner, we find ourselves at a critical moment in cycling's evolution: confronting its history."

Can you understand that despite your wont to be transparent, the public perception is one of a team that's transparent only when it suits them?

7. Why is Hesjedal's admission and apology not prominently displayed on your team website? In fact, I can't find it anywhere…

8. Upon Hesjedal's admission to taking EPO, part of your team statement read: "As we have previously stated, our expectation is that anyone in our organisation contacted by any anti-doping authority must be open and honest with that authority."

That's fine, but what is your expectation when anyone in your organisation is contacted by a member of the media – shouldn't you be open and honest with us, too? A number of reporters have asked Hesjedal about previous involvement in doping, to which he replied he had nothing to do with it…

9. Can you assure us Hesjedal only doped in 2003, and not at any other time, including his tenure at US Postal and Discovery Channel in 2004/05?

10. Why do you continue to employ so many ex-dopers, most who continue to profit from their past indiscretions? (Nearly one-fifth of your team this year is comprised of those who have chequered pasts; more than any other WorldTour team.) Is it because you've given yourself a second chance that you feel a need to do so?

11. Again, going back to your October 2012 team statement: "We can look forward to the crop of young athletes coming up not just on our team but on other teams and have confidence that the future of the sport is here."

So, aren't you perpetuating the problem of past or current dopers taking – or should that be 'stealing'? – jobs more deservedly destined for young, clean riders, since they are the key to the sport's future prosperity?

12. Isn't the message to 'ride clean' far more salient when it comes from clean riders – riders who made the far more difficult choice to ride among dopers and suffer their arses off just to finish races, or were forced to race at a lower level, or were forced to leave the sport entirely – rather than an ex-doper who says, 'I doped, it's bad, don't do what I did…'?


It's been four days and counting – without response.

I really am hoping to publish that blog, 'Answers from @Vaughters', but as the days wear on, I become less hopeful.