The hunt for Australian dopers begins
January 17, 2005. Cyclist Matt White relaxes with wife Jane Saville. AAP Image/Rob Hutchison
As the US tries to digest the enormous doping transgressions of its professional cycling team and its great sporting hero Lance Armstrong, we are being forced to consider the doping culture of our own cyclists.
When Tyler Hamilton spoke on 60 Minutes last year we knew he was telling the truth about Armstrong, so the USADA reasoned decision didn’t really come as a shock.
Consequently it was also no surprise to learn of Australian Matt White’s involvement in doping while riding for the American US Postal team from 2001 to 2003. White was first implicated by former teammate Floyd Landis in 2010 but was forced to admit his guilt in light of the USADA report.
Many top riders of the recent era such as Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Alexandre Vinkourov and Alberto Contador have been banned for doping, but are we prepared to hear that Australians not linked to Armstrong are also guilty of doping?
In February I wrote an article “With drugs so rife, could Australians be doping too?” A suspicion that at least may have been came from a UCI report leaked to the French daily sports newspaper L’Equipe. It was a list of the riders who competed in the 2010 Tour de France, ranking each on suspicion of doping.
Australians Michael Rogers and Matthew Lloyd were placed in a category that contained riders who showed “overwhelming evidence of some kind of doping, due to recurring anomalies, enormous variations in parameters, and even the identification of doping products or methods”, based on comparison of blood tests with biological profiles.
One of the doctors monitoring that UCI test was the Australian Michael Ashenden, who also oversaw the 2005 testing of Lance Armstrong’s 1999 Tour urine samples which, according to Ashenden, undoubtedly contained EPO.
The outspoken Ashenden lambasted Cycling Australia on Tuesday for hiring White and for its insipid responses to doping in general. Does he know something about our cyclists?
Cycling Australia had briefly entertained the idea of an amnesty to find out the extent of Australian drug taking but quickly dropped it when the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and its seven million dollar funding disagreed.
The president of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, called for the Australian Anti-Doping Authority to be allowed to compel witnesses to give evidence and produce documents.
Subsequently, the Minister for Sport, Kate Lundy, and Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice, Jason Clare, announced a new Memorandum of Understanding between ASADA and the Australian Crime Commission so that the two bodies may share intelligence and work collaboratively to investigate allegations of doping.
Which procedure is best at bringing out the truth? An amnesty; or bans so dreadful that those found guilty will want to implicate fellow dopers; or a combination?
The Australian organisations have chosen the hard-line. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
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