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Cycling Australia fires Matt White

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Oct. 17, 2012
Orica-GreenEdge followed Cycling Australi's lead in sacking Matt White. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

The USADA investigation has claimed another victim.

Just hours after Omega Pharma-Quick Step sacked Levi Leipheimer for his admissions of past doping, ex-pro Matt White is also being cut loose in light of his own confessions.

White got the axe overnight by the Australian cycling federation from his part-time job as the men’s national team coordinator while Orica-GreenEdge management considers his role with the team.

Members of the Cycling Australia board, citing anti-doping policies within the federation’s rulebook, voted to remove White from the job of running the elite men’s team at international competition he’s held for the past two years.

“The admissions contained within his public statement of 13 October clearly place him in breach of the CA Anti-Doping Policy and Code of Conduct,” a statement read. “Accordingly, the Board has determined that his ongoing employment with CA is untenable and Matt was formally advised overnight of the termination of his contract.”

The board says the decision “reaffirms” its stance against doping, but it’s prompted strong reactions from some who think that riders coming forward now should be given more lenient treatment.

The Australian cycling federation also retreated on calls by its president, Klaus Mueller, for a sport-wide amnesty, saying it is “not consistent with CA’s strong anti-doping position.”

The federation also shot out at the UCI, with a strongly worded message saying the international federation was asleep at the wheel during the EPO era, but lauded it for its recent work in enforcing the biological passport.

“We acknowledge that there is now clear evidence that the UCI, until recent times, failed to fully and properly do its part to stamp out doping. We stand by our belief that the UCI deserves significant credit in a number of areas, namely its persistence in dealing with the Operation Puerto files and the ground-breaking introduction of the Biological Passport,” it said. “We believe there is also reasonable evidence to support the view that the current professional peloton is much ‘cleaner’ and fair competition is now taking place. However, we concede questions do remain.”

White’s future with Orica is also tenuous. Team boss Shayne Bannan told Australian TV SBS that he would not rush into a decision about White’s future with the team.

White was an integral part of building and then guiding Orica through its debut season, but the latest revelations have cast doubt about his future with the team.

White is also facing a possible suspension via the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) for his admissions of doping.

“We don’t want to make a rushed decision,” Bannan told SBS. “It has to be the right decision for our team. If ASADA comes out and gives Matt a suspension, then obviously we’re guided by that suspension.”

White, meanwhile, said he wants to be part of the solution of trying to help cycling turn the corner on its doping past. White raced for U.S. Postal Service from 2001-2003 and again from 2006-07 with Discovery Channel, but he admitted that he doped during part of his career.

“I understand the current situation makes it difficult to sustain the position and I respect that Cycling Australia has to make certain decisions,” the 38-year-old said in a press release. “It’s crucial there is a positive outcome from the current debate about cycling’s past and I feel a responsibility to be part of that – even if it won’t be in an official Cycling Australia role.”

Floyd Landis first outed White in 2010, but he did not come forward to confirm allegations that he was involved in doping during his career. It was only after the damning USADA report, released last week, that White admitted his nefarious past.

Last January, Garmin boss Jonathan Vaughters — another former Postal Service rider to recently admit having doping during his career — fired White from his job as lead sport director when he referred Garmin rider Trent Lowe to consult with Spanish doctor Luís García del Moral, breaking team policy that riders should not consult with unapproved doctors. Del Moral is a key player in the U.S. Postal Service doping ring and Vaughters quickly jettisoned the popular Australian.

Both Orica and the Australian cycling federation said there was not enough evidence previous to White’s admissions to take any formal action against the former rider.

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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