Slipstream reaffirms its anti-doping policies in wake of Dutch report

Jonathan Vaughters and the Slipstream squad deny report of sanctions, point to policy of openness in Armstrong investigation

ROUEN, France (AFP) — Garmin-Sharp boss, Jonathan Vaughters has affirmed his team’s strict anti-doping stance in the wake of a report that put the former U.S. Postal rider into the doping spotlight 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 U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

The report claimed that 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 Racing), Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie (both Garmin) — all four of whom are racing the Tour. 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 that his riders named in the report faced pending suspension 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.”

Vaughters’ team regularly affirms its commitment to drug-free competition. One of its 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 EPO use.

Vaughters also confirmed to AFP on Wednesday that Danish rider Alex Rasmussen, suspended for 18 months by the UCI over missed doping tests, would be sacked for breaking the team’s strict rules. Garmin’s management company, Slipstream Sports, issued a statement Thursday that affirmed its 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 organization 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 also reaffirmed the team’s 2010 stance on the Armstrong case, when Vaughters said he expected his riders to be forthcoming if called upon in what was then a federal investigation.

“As we have always said, we expect that anyone in our organization 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 its 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.”

Editor’s Note: Jonathan Vaughters has not denied claims that any of the five men named in the Dutch report were witnesses in the Armstrong case. He did deny on Thursday that his riders faced pending suspension as reported in the Telegraaf report. This distinction was not clear in the original text.