Vaughters affirms anti-doping stance
Garmin cycling team chief Jonathan Vaughters has affirmed his team's strict anti-doping stance in the wake of a report which put the former US Postal rider into the doping spotlight on Thursday.
Vaughters was among five former teammates of Lance Armstrong mentioned in a report in the Dutch De Telegraaf newspaper.
Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion, has consistently denied doping but has recently been charged with doping offences by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
The report claimed the former teammates had testified against Armstrong and, after admitting doping themselves, would receive six-month bans.
The other former teammates mentioned in the report are Americans George Hincapie (BMC), Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma), Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie (both Garmin) – all four of whom are racing the Tour.
Armstrong himself denounced what he labelled a "vendetta" by the USADA.
On his Twitter page he suggested that his four former teammates had only told USADA what they had wanted to hear "in exchange for immunity, anonymity, and the opportunity to continue to race the biggest event in cycling.."
He added in another tweet: "This isn't about @usantidoping wanting to clean up cycling - rather it's just plain ol' selective prosecution that reeks of vendetta."
Earlier Vaughters, who has been a strong advocate of anti-doping since he quit the sport to start his own team several years ago, denied the claims in the report also through a Twitter post on Thursday morning.
"Regarding the Dutch media report: No 6mos suspensions have been given to any member of Slipstream Sports. Today or at any future date," wrote Vaughters, whom De Telegraaf claimed had also admitted doping.
COMMITTED TO DRUG-FREE COMPETITION
Vaughters' team regularly affirm their commitment to drug-free competition.
One of their key riders is David Millar, the Briton who has become a symbol of the sport's anti-doping fight since serving a two-year ban for doping.
Vaughters also confirmed to AFP on Wednesday that Danish rider Alex Rasmussen, suspended for 18 months by the authorities over missed doping tests, would be sacked for breaking their strict rules.
Garmin's management company, Slipstream Sports, issued a statement Thursday which affirmed their commitment to anti-doping.
"We created Slipstream because we wanted to create a team where cyclists could compete 100 percent clean," the statement read.
"It is an organisation built on the core values of honesty, fairness and optimism. Slipstream is built on the belief in our ability to contribute to changing the sport's future through a persistent commitment to the present."
The statement appeared to indicate that Vaughters may have given evidence – if indeed called upon the the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which has recently charged Armstrong with doping offences.
It added: "As we have always said, we expect that anyone in our organisation who is contacted by any anti-doping or government authority will be open and honest with that authority but at this moment, we - our organisation, our riders and our staff - are focused on the Tour de France."
Canada's Ryder Hesjedal won the Giro d'Italia for Garmin last month to give the team their first Grand Tour victory.
"We won our first Grand Tour in May and to achieve similar success here, we need to focus on that. We can confirm that our Tour team is entirely focused on the Tour and media reports of suspensions are untrue."