Jonathan Vaughters’ doping admission in the New York Times wasn’t exactly a revelation to those who follow the sport. It’s been an open secret for a number of years as one by one the members of the US Postal squad of Lance Armstrong admit to doping.
We have tremendous respect for Vaughters, perhaps the smartest man in professional cycling — and one of the funniest. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone else in the sport who has done more to fight doping, improve testing and convince riders they can ride clean.
He is the anti-McQuaid. The Garmin team has provided the inspiration and proof that the wins — including this year’s Giro d’Italia — will come with teamwork, forward thinking ideas and a strong ethical stance.
What we did find of most interest in Vaughter’s admission was the timing. Vaughters is too smart to just write that admission and opinion piece without thinking about tactics and ramifications.
We can’t help but suspect that besides clearing his own conscience, the NY Times piece was a nudge to push the USADA case past judge Sparks in Austin, Texas and a boost to the USADA in their battle with the UCI over jurisdiction of the Armstrong doping investigation.
It’s quotes like “the only way to eliminate this choice is to put our greatest efforts into anti-doping enforcement,” that makes us think Vaughters is doing everything he can to get the USADA case over the hump. Perhaps he thinks that now is the most critical moment in the legal chain of events and it was time to act.
When he states: “Let’s put our effort and resources into making sport fair, so that no athlete faces this decision ever again,” it’s hard not to point that back to the biggest doping case in cycling and a jurisdiction ruling that happens next week.
The Armstrong camp has waged a PR campaign that the USADA is both vindictive and operating beyond the scope of their legal mandate. Vaughters doesn’t offer an opinion on the case or the legal specifics, but he does make a huge emotional argument for doing everything possible to fight doping.
Like in Austin, next week. Our thought is, his timing couldn’t have been better. George Hincapie, what’s on your mind, buddy?