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Friday 05, Jul 2013

  Testimony From Cycling Team Director Being Used To Build Cases Against Others

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Testimony From Cycling Team Director Being Used To Build Cases Against Others

According to a statement by Australian anti-doping investigators, the testimony of Matt White is being used to build cases against others.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) released more details of the suspension that the cycling team director served earlier this year after White orchestrated the first Tour de France stage win for Orica-GreenEDGE. White was given a backdated ban of six months that was reduced from the original ban of two years. His ban ended in early May and he returned to Orica-GreenEDGE in time for the Tour. The Australian former professional road racing cyclist who started his career on the track under Charlie Walsh, competing in the Junior World Championship in Athens apologized for doping during his time as a professional cyclist.

In a statement, ASADA said Cycling Australia imposed a two-year period of ineligibility under its anti-doping policy with three-quarters suspended for the substantial assistance White provided to ASADA during the course of its cycling investigation. It was further revealed that Cycling Australia, in applying the full three-quarters reduction in suspension, acknowledged in its decision that information provided by White is helping establish violations against others and this reduction is in line with the provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code. The statement also said White chose to be a part of a solution for the betterment of the sport and its athletes when faced with an opportunity to cooperate fully with an anti-doping organization.

Australian cycling was rocked last October after White and CA vice-president Stephen Hodge confessed to doping during their riding careers within days of the life ban on Lance Armstrong. White confessed to blood doping and the attempted use of testosterone, IGF-1, and the blood booster EPO. Meanwhile, Hodge admitted to taking part in a team doping program for the last six years of his career in order to have a chance to ride big races like the Tour de France. The former Cycling Australia vice-president remarked he had to take drugs to remain competitive at the highest level in cycling while racing for the Once and Festina teams.

In his statement, Hodge remarked there had been no ‘overt pressure’ to take drugs, but that the reality of competition made it a clear choice and added that there weren’t people saying ‘you must do this’, but clearly if you wanted to remain competitive and get selected for the big races like the Tour (de France) you could make a choice to participate in the team (doping) program. Hodge completed the Tour de France six times and represented Australia and was regarded as one of the country’s leading riders during the 1980s and the early 1990s before retiring in 1996. He represented Australia at 10 world championships, as well as the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. After Hodge’s doping admission, CA president Klaus Mueller thanked him for his ‘immense contribution’ to cycling and said Hodge became a tireless worker for the sport and for almost 15 years has freely given up his time as an advocate for the rights of athletes and to promote and develop the sport in Australia.

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Saturday 22, Jun 2013

  Matt White Reappointed By GreenEdge

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The eight-month doping exile of Matt White has finally come to an end and he was immediately drafted again by Australian team Orica-GreenEdge as a team director.

It was announced by the team that Orica-GreenEdge would implement all the recommendations of the report by anti-doping expert Nicki Vance and this would mean Neil Stephens will stay at GreenEdge as another director. The team also disclosed that White, who is already with the team at the Tour of Switzerland and is likely to have an important role later this month with their lineup for the Tour de France, will return on probation of 12 months.

Team general manager Shayne Bannan said the appointment of White is consistent with the framework for treating past and future offenses recommended in the Vance Report and the team has gone further by making Matt White’s appointment subject to a 12-month probationary period. Bannan added that this is all part of a constant evaluation structure we are putting in place regarding our management and we are not only fully committed to using the report as a guideline for our team, but would also like to continually use it as the best possible basis for our decision-making when approaching key elements of the sport.

Matt White Reappointed By GreenEdge

The Australian former professional road racing cyclist Matthew (“Matt”) White’s most notable results are winning a stage of the 1999 Tour de Suisse and another stage victory at the 2005 Tour Down Under. In 2012, he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs while on the US Postal squad and stood down from his role with Orica- GreenEdge on 13 October 2012. Matt White was sacked on 17 October 2012 as a national coach by Cycling Australia due to his use of performance enhancing drugs.

The former teammate of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and directeur sportif at Orica-GreenEdge, the Australian was named in the report before he confessed to doping while riding for US Postal team between 2001 and 2003. At that time, a statement was issued on the team’s official website by Gerry Ryan, the Orica-GreenEdge owner, which stated that Orica-GreenEdge is a clean team and our commitment to being clean has been a foundation principle of the team since the day of its inception and to maintain public confidence in our strict adherence to this principle Orica-GreenEdge has appointed an eminent and independent external expert to audit the rigor and effectiveness of the team’s anti-doping policies and procedures.

The statement also revealed that Orica-GreenEdge will not step back from taking any necessary decision to protect the integrity of the sport and the team and to restore the confidence of cycling fans around the world and Orica-GreenEdge believes a hard-line approach is an essential prerequisite to continue in the sport with credibility. The statement from the Australian team also stated the team has appointed Nicki Vance to lead this review and Vance established the testing and international programs for the Australian Sports Drug Agency (ASDA), headed up the anti-doping program for the Sydney organizing committee for the Olympic Games and was a start up director for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

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Wednesday 01, May 2013

  Inquiry Into Doping May Not Be Fully Open To Public

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Inquiry Into Doping May Not Be Fully Open To Public

The management of Orica-GreenEDGE is yet to finalize whether they will publicize the findings of an independent review that was being conducted into the Australian team’s anti-doping program and procedures.

Shayne Bannan, the general manager of the team, hopes to have a better idea of the team’s position in the issue after he received an update from anti-doping expert Nicki Vance, who was commissioned to conduct the probe.

The review was called by Orica-GreenEDGE last November in the aftermath of the US Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) findings into disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who has been banned for life for doping.

A former teammate of Armstrong on the US Postal Services team, Matt White, was named as a drug user in the 200-page ‘reasoned decision’, released by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to the public on the internet last October. Thereafter, White confessed to doping and then stood down as sports director of Orica-GreenEDGE and was sacked by the team soon after. White’s career is now hinging on a verdict from Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) that is also carrying out a probe into Australia cycling. However, it is still not known if ASADA investigation into White’s hearing and cycling will be made public.

Bannan, however, believes the Vance inquiry, however, may be near an end and remarked that has been well under way for a while and it is getting close to the finishing stages. The Orica-GreenEDGE team’s general manager added that he is expecting an update from Nicki very soon and we will have more of an indication [then] when the report is finalized. He also remarkable that he cannot say as of now if the Vance findings would be released to the public by the team and said he thinks we will just see what the recommendations are and also added that there will be certain aspects we would make public and we will just wait and see what those recommendations are.

Meanwhile, Vance confirmed she is close to finishing her review and planning to brief Bannan on her report. Vance remarked she is expecting to speak with Shayne with an update and regarding the required mode [form] of the report and getting close to finishing and she assumes that it will then take a little time for them to read the report and then to decide what will or won’t be made public.

In another development, the Swiss IAM team of Australian Heinrich Haussler has missed out on one of the last of 22 berths for the Tour de France, starting on June 29 as organizers, Amaury Sports Organization (ASO), gave the three wild cards to the French Europcar, Cofidis, and Sojasun teams. The IAM team’s founder and owner, Michel Thétaz, in a statement on the team’s website remarked we have not managed to catch enough interest from the ASO despite our belief in ourselves and desire to succeed but we respect their decision and will redouble our efforts to be included in the line-up in the coming seasons.

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Saturday 22, Dec 2012

  Doping Was Never An Option For O’Grady

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Doping Was Never An Option For O’Grady

The doping admission of Matt White and his sacking has meant for difficult times at Orica GreenEdge, says Stuart O’Grady.

O’Grady is one of a handful of riders who may be interviewed for three of the separate Australian investigations that are presently stemming from the Reasoned Decision document by USADA on the lifetime ban on Lance Armstrong. The Australian stalwart said the Australian Anti-Doping Authority has already come knocking. The Australian Sports Commission, along with ASADA, has also mounted an inquiry led by Justice James Wood while Orica GreenEdge has begun its own investigations to deal more with internal procedures headed by the former World Anti-Doping Agency director, Nicki Vance.

O’Grady admitted that it is uncomfortable as he is getting asked a lot of questions for which he has absolutely no ideas and the feeling of uneasiness is because he is very happy with his career and what he achieved. O’Grady added that he has been available at the end of the day whenever they want to talk and he is glad to tell them everything he knows and said he can provide insights to his life though he has no answers to most of the questions that are asked.

O’Grady has ridden with some of the teams that have found themselves under the most scrutiny in recent memory, specifically Cofidis and CSC/Saxo Ban, throughout his career that lasted 18 years. O’Grady like former Saxo teammate Brad McGee before him, is adamant that despite the stigma, he saw no evidence of a doping culture. The 39-year-old said he was very lucky, very fortunate that doping was never an option in the teams he was involved in. He further added that the team bosses had a very different mentality to some others. O’Grady further added that the revelations of the use of performance enhancing drugs in cycling in the recent past had left him with “mixed emotions” but he overwhelmingly felt “disappointed in the sport” thanks primarily to the scale of the anti-doping infractions.

The release of the Reasoned Decision documentation by USADA resulted in the sacking of Orica GreenEdge sports director, Matt White, though the same evidence was in the public domain since 2010 when Floyd Landis sent an email to USA Cycling chief executive officer Steve Johnson. After the release of the USADA Reasoned Decision, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of all his titles. Sponsors of the cyclists shunned him and the governing body of cycling, the UCI, was no exception and remarked that Armstrong has no place in cycling.

O’Grady admitted when asked if he was happy about the way the team handled the fallout by USADA that it is difficult and said what gets decided by management is out of my league but added that the team is stronger than ever as a unit and a group of rider and it is more motivated than ever and want to come out firing next year by understanding that there is pressure from higher above that causes these types of decisions to be made but as a group of bike riders.

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Sunday 25, Nov 2012

  Coates Wants Sweeping Anti-Doping Powers

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Coates Wants Sweeping Anti-Doping Powers

 

The Olympic Chief of Australia wants the anti-doping body of the country to be given sweeping powers for forcing witnesses to give evidence in its fight against drug use in sport.

ASADA, the national anti-doping agency, came into action after former Olympic cyclist Matt White admitted involvement in the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. The life ban on the Texan rider relied on testimony from fellow riders in the absence of positive drug tests and national Olympic chief John Coates said the government should again consider strengthening the powers of ASADA for investigating allegations of doping practices. He added that the Australian Anti-doping Agency should have the power to compel witnesses to attend and give evidence and to produce documents relevant to such investigations.

President of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), Coates wrote his recommendations in a letter to Sport Minister Kate Lundy while responding to comments made by Lundy in which she said ASADA were “constantly improving their techniques” in the battle against substance abuse in sport. The call of Coates came as Australian Anti-doping Agency announced closer working ties with the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) for clamping down on doping cheats with greater efficiency and speed. The ASAD chief has been pushing for greater authority for investigators to get evidence since before the 2000 Sydney Olympics and remarked that many allegations of ADRVs (anti-doping rule violations) cannot be properly investigated and prosecuted without the power to compel the giving of oral and documentary evidence.

White said he had been part of a doping culture when he rode for the U.S. Postal Service team of Lance Armstrong from 2001 to 2003. Investigations into Armstrong was given a major boost by an initial federal grand jury probe that lasted for a period of two years and USADA pursued allegations of doping even after Armstrong was cleared of criminal charges in February. The anti-doping agency accused the 41-year-old Armstrong of being at the heart of the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program ever seen in sport and the cyclist has always denied doping but decided not to fight the charges. ASAD officials revealed that they were aware of allegations made against White in 2010 by American cyclist Floyd Landis but were unable to probe the accusations until now due to a U.S. federal investigation and the subsequent USADA inquiry. The Australian Anti-doping Agency said it would be seeking further information from USADA and Cycling Australia and ASADA has a duty to be both thorough and accurate in its investigation.

Meanwhile, Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong’s teammate Frankie Andreu, labeled Armstrong as the ‘Bernie Madoff of the sporting world’ after the 41-year-old Texan rider was told to pay back every penny of prize money he won while using performance enhancing drugs. In another development, three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond is among those to call for a change of leadership at the governing body of cycling though president Pat McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen, now honorary president, have stood firm. The UCI has come under intense criticism and scrutiny before and since the publication of USADA report that concluded Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran ‘the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen’.

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Sunday 11, Nov 2012

  Australian Government To Launch Investigation Into Cycling Doping

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Australian Government To Launch Investigation Into Cycling Doping

On Wednesday, the Australian government said it will be conducting a review of Cycling Australia over recent doping controversies for helping restore “confidence and trust” in the sport’s national governing body.

Australian Sports Minister Kate Lundy remarked that James Wood, a former chairman of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission, will be performing the review and offering his recommendations to the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority in order to formulate and execute a uniform anti-doping code for all sports in the country.

The move follows the sacking or resignation of Australian cycling officials, Matt White and Stephen Hodge. The move follows the firing or resignation of Australian cycling officials Matt White and Stephen Hodge. While White was fired by after his name appeared in the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s report against the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong as one of the former teammates of Armstrong who used performance enhancing drugs, Hodge resigned after admitting to using performance enhancing drugs but was not implicated in the Lance Armstrong cycling scandal.

Lundy said in a statement that there have been very serious implications for Australian Cycling after the release of the explosive United States Anti-Doping Agency report that confirmed sophisticated doping programs infiltrated the sport at the elite level. Lundy added that it is important to move quickly to ensure the confidence and trust of the Australian public is restored in cycling’s governing body for Cycling Australia and the thousands of competitive cyclists in Australia, in the wake of the resignation of the Australian officials involved in these doping programs.

A former chief judge in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Wood, recently led an inquiry that resulted in the state adopting legislation for criminalizing match-fixing, Lundy said. She added that the review of Wood will evaluate the governance and administrative practices, including recruitment and employment, of Cycling Australia and Wood will also be examining the anti-doping policies of Cycling Australia and “advise on their effectiveness including any improvement that should be made.”

The Dutch cycling federation meanwhile is poised to launch its own commission for investigating the “culture of doping” in the sport. The Royal Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWB) said professional cycling is in crisis and KNWB believes more can and must be done internationally and nationally. The KNWB said the commission will be established no later than November 30 and will make its findings public “no later than June 1 next year” and will be investigating the facts and findings in relation to the doping culture within Dutch cycling and added that it would then come up “with concrete suggestions on how to improve current measures to combat doping.” KNWU president Marcel J.G. Wintels warned  that cycling faces what he believes is the ‘deepest crisis ever.’  The Royal Dutch Cycling Federation KNWU recently sent a strong letter to UCI president Pat McQuaid and called for wide-sweeping action and reforms in the sport. It said the loss of Rabobank’s backing of the WorldTour team, the Lance Armstrong scandal, and UCI’s response to the scandal are big issues.

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Saturday 10, Nov 2012

  Cycling Probe Judge Named By Australia

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Cycling Probe Judge Named By Australia

The Australian government has named a former judge to lead an official investigation into the governing body of cycling down under in response to the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

Minister of Sport Kate Lundy said James Wood, chairman of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission, will head the probe.

The review will be focusing on anti-doping policies, governance, and recruitment of Cycling Australia after two senior officials rendered their resignations after admitting to making the use of performance enhancing drugs during their racing careers. Australia’s top professional cycling team Orica-GreenEDGE fired its sports director and former pro racer, Matt White, after his name emerged in the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s report against the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong; White was revealed as one of the former teammates of Armstrong who used performance enhancing drugs. In a public statement, White confessed to doping and was also dropped as an elite road-racing coach at Cycling Australia because of his involvement in the Armstrong doping scandal.

Former professional cyclist Stephen Hodge, the other cyclist, resigned from his position as vice president of Cycling Australia last month after admitting to using performance enhancing drugs while competing though he was not implicated in the Lance Armstrong cycling scandal.

Lance Armstrong, the American former professional road racing cyclist became the world’s most famous cyclist, winning the Tour de France seven consecutive times, from 1999 to 2005. After being accused by USADA and his teammates of using and promoting the use of performance enhancing drugs, the cyclist was banned for life and disqualified from all his results since August 1998 though these charges were vehemently denied by the Texan rider.

Lundy said it has become important for Cycling Australia and the thousands of competitive cyclists in Australia in the wake of the resignation of the Australian officials involved in these doping programs that we move quickly to ensure the confidence and trust of the Australian public is restored in the governing body of cycling.

A report recently published by USADA alleged that Armstrong was at the center of “a massive team doping scheme, more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history.” Many former professional cyclists have come forward with confessions of illegal doping since its publication. The Texan rider, Armstrong, continues to deny the allegations of doping but stopped fighting the charges against him after which he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life.

The Australian review came after the the Union Cycliste Internationale, or UCI,  cycling’s world governing body, remarked that it would be establishing an external commission for looking into allegations that it turned a blind eye to the doping practices that Armstrong is alleged to have used.

Australia has produced a number of riders who have competed at the highest levels of the sport in Europe and traditionally punched above its weight in international cycling. In 2011, Cadel Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France and has not been implicated in any doping charges.

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