LES ESSARTS, France (VN) — Jonathan Vaughters says Garmin-Cervélo’s victory in Sunday’s team time trial is confirmation that cycling is cleaning up its act.
After scores of close calls, Vaughters’ Garmin boys delivered a huge victory in Sunday’s TTT. That victory meant even more for Vaughters, who said he believes that cycling is cleaner now than most people believe.
“I am confident that clean riders can win big races,” Vaughters said. “The proof is in the pudding. I believe a broad majority of the peloton is riding clean. There’s no way we could achieve what we’ve done if that were not the case.”
Despite ongoing doping cases, including this year’s Tour starting under the cloud of Alberto Contador’s unresolved clenbuterol case, Vaughters voiced his optimism that cycling has turned the corner on the doping culture.
“When you look at things such as power outputs, the climbing speeds and everything we’ve seen from this team and the victories we’ve achieved, when I look at the body of evidence, a broad majority of the peloton is riding clean. That has been the case for the past several years now,” Vaughters said.
“There have been some very public cases that have convinced some people that is not the case. The level of enforcement of anti-doping controls is so high that people are getting caught. That is a good thing, because that is allowing the sport to clean up and allowing younger riders to come into the sport and compete without doping and win without doping.”
Vaughters started his squad in 2003 with a strong anti-doping message that quickly earned it the “clean team” motto. The former pro was on the forefront of the battle to try to restore cycling’s tattered credibility by introducing such ground-breaking methods soon adopted by other teams, such as internal monitoring and a strict no-needles policy. His ideal was to create a team and an environment in which the option of doping would not exist and riders could race clean, without pressure to dope.
Vaughters always insisted that clean riders could win, but it was often other teams promoting a strong, anti-doping policy that were delivering the big victories. That was especially true at the Tour de France, where Vaughters’ teams had scored 17 second and third places in Tour stages dating back to its debut in 2008.
“This victory means a lot to our organization,” Vaughters said. “Everyone has been working so hard to achieve this goal, from how hard and dedicated the riders are to the team staff, the mechanics, the soigneurs — everyone in the organization gives so much. I am happy that we could win at the Tour.”
Vaughters has never been shy about talking about the doping culture within cycling and how the sport should combat the problem, but he was quick to point out that it’s been the collective work of the UCI, teams, riders and even the media that has helped push cycling toward a cleaner future.
“Everyone should be proud of this sport and it saddens me that some people don’t see it that way. Everyone should applaud how cycling has come this far,” he said. “We’ve all collaborated to improve the sport and to take the sport a long way from where it was five years ago.
“I talk about the (doping) issue more because this team has taken a very public stance, and we need to stand by that. To be quiet about it is not correct,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we’re running up the victory flag. It’s a constant war. We have to keep on it.”