Matt White will return to his sports director role on Orica-GreenEdge, the Aussie team announced today. He served a back-dated suspension for his part in the Lance Armstrong affair, but was cleared to work ahead of the Tour de France by an external review.
“We have reviewed and will constantly continue to review our management, and it was clear that Matt White is the right person for the job,” general manager Shayne Bannan said in a press release. “I am sure he again will be an invaluable part of our management and a true asset to the riders and the staff. His perspective on the sport and his commitment to make cycling better are both key elements to our success and our identity.”
White raced with Armstrong’s teams from 2001 to 2003 and 2006 to 2007. After the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency ruled on the fallen star last year, White faced pressure to admit he doped. The agency’s reasoned decision on the Armstrong case reportedly listed White as “Rider-9″ in Floyd Landis’ affidavit.
Landis said in his September 2012 affidavit, “I then spent substantial time training with fellow USPS team members ‘Rider-9′ and Michael Barry and shared, and discussed the use of HGH, testosterone and erythropoietin with them while training.”
In October, White admitted to doping, lost his job as Australia’s head coach, and stepped down as a sports director at Orica.
He lost his previous job with Garmin in January 2011 after he referred cyclist Trent Lowe to a doctor, Luis Garcia del Moral, without approval. Del Moral worked with Armstrong’s teams and was eventually found by the USADA to have helped riders dope.
“I am aware my name has been mentioned during talks that USADA has had with former teammates of mine in their investigation regarding doping activities at the U.S. Postal Service team,” White said in a statement at the time. “I am sad to say that I was part of a team where doping formed part of the team’s strategy, and I too was involved in that strategy.”
The 39-year-old Aussie cooperated with the anti-doping authorities and served a back-dated suspension.
The Vance Report
In the wake of the scandal, Bannan and Orica’s brass contacted anti-doping expert, Nicki Vance, about the team’s culture and ethics. Not only was White questioned, but every rider and team member was as well.
The report cleared the path for White’s return and made other recommendations.
“It is imperative that we constantly improve and make decisions based on the best possible evaluations,” Bannan said. “The Vance Report concluded that ORICA-GreenEdge is working on the right foundations, and I am pleased that all recommendations will be implemented in the few areas identified where the team’s commitment to anti-doping can be strengthened and improved. After all, the health of the team’s riders and the future of the sport is our number one priority.”
Based on the report’s recommendation, White returns on a 12-month probationary period.
“This is all part of a constant evaluation structure we are putting in place regarding our management,” Bannan said. “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.”
Orica Sports director Neil Stephens was involved in the Festina Affair when he raced, but has so far escaped sanctions.