• On a precipice... The career of Tom Danielson, and cycling's credibility. (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The news that a Cannondale-Garmin rider returned a positive doping test is not a sign that professional cycling is getting better at catching cheats, but a billboard to say some things remain unchanged, writes Anthony Tan.
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3 Aug 2015 - 6:52 PM  UPDATED 4 Aug 2015 - 12:11 AM

This tweet from Cannondale-Garmin general manager Jonathan Vaughters, delivered into the Twittersphere shortly after the conclusion of Stage 10 of this year's Tour de France, could just as easily apply today...

As could this tweet from the Tour of Utah, sent out the Saturday before the race (which began today), and where two-time winner and defending champion Tom Danielson, a member of Cannondale-Garmin and its various iterations since 2008, has become an ambassador of sorts.

There's conjecture as to whether the tweet from Vaughters was in reference to Chris Froome's performance on the final climb of La Pierre-Saint-Martin, where he delivered a stage-winning, morale-crunching blow to his rivals, or that of his team, in particular Daniel Martin and Andrew Talansky; the pair expected to go well in that sort of terrain but failed to deliver, both losing eleven-and-a-half minutes to Froome, the eventual overall winner.

"The statement on Wikipedia, "No rider has tested positive during or after his tenure at Cannondale-Garmin", will have to be altered."

What also remains uncertain is the extent of Danielson's culpability. Sunday evening in the U.S., he was notified via phone call by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that he returned an adverse analytical finding for synthetic testosterone, taken from an out-of-competition test on July 9 this year.

So far, there has been no statement from Cannondale-Garmin; no statement from USADA; and Danielson aside, no tweet from any member of the team.

While the 37-year-old, who, in an affidavit to USADA, admitted to blood doping during his time with the Discovery Channel cycling team (2005-07), awaits results of his B-sample, the entire community that comprises professional cycling, its credibility already on tenterhooks, is just as nervous.

Because this is more than just one rider and a potential lifetime ban for a second doping offence.

This is a rider from a team founded on a vociferous anti-doping stance; one that understood the past, accepted it was true, accepted it was screwed up - yet, at the same time, accepted that, if professional cycling was to move onward and upward, it could no longer be its previous self.

If Danielson is found to be guilty, it will be the first rider since the team's inception in 2003 as a junior development squad that a member has been caught doping. The statement on Wikipedia, "No rider has tested positive during or after his tenure at Cannondale-Garmin", will have to be altered.

The cycling public excuses this eclectic mob of misfits for their lack of success because they believe them to be clean; instead, they applaud and laugh at each rider's idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, for this is a maverick team that allows individuals to be, well, individuals.

And on occasion, when they do win, it's not only considered a win for them, but a win for clean cycling.

That belief could soon be in tatters.