Jonathan Vaughters says the media is missing a big part of the story when it comes to the alleged doping case involving Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.
While negative headlines have largely driven the news cycle since the story broke last month, Vaughters says the larger, more important story of how cycling is cleaning up its act is often overwhelmed by the media hurricanes that follow in the wake of high-profile doping cases like Contador’s.
“The Contador story sort of oversimplifies the issue in a negative way. When you look at the scientific data of the whole situation, it’s incredibly positive,” Vaughters told VeloNews. “That data is difficult to understand, it’s not something tangible and available for the everyday person. That’s sad that it cannot be the big story — it really should be — when you look at it from an objective perspective, when you turn around 99 percent of a sport within 10 years, there are very few industries who say they could do that.”
Vaughters pointed out that the Contador case was the only doping-related story to come out of the 2010 Tour, something that he says underscores the advances cycling is slowly but surely making.
“At end of day, it’s one very high-profile problem. The sad part is it detracts from the general and global progress that’s been made against doping,” he continued. “The meaning of the data is incredibly positive. It’s disappointing (to see negative headlines) because so much progress has been made.”
Vaughters — who nearly signed Contador to a contract two years ago when Astana was left out of the 2008 Tour — says that media and fans need to be patient on the Contador story, because he says fast and easy answers likely won’t be coming anytime soon.
“Everyone would like some sure answers, some definitives; is this contamination or is this something else? That investigation takes a long time,” he said. “I think the answers will be difficult to find, and the investigation will be a difficult process.”
Editor’s Note: Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood’s covered every Tour since 1996 and has been VeloNews’ European correspondent since 2002. He lives in Leon, Spain, when he’s not chasing bike races.