Vaughters – part 1

August 13, 2012

So Vaughters has come out and admitted to doping.

Since he has regularly stated that he is not proud of certain achievements as a rider and mentioned his “colorful past”, this should come as no surprise.

I realize his revelations might still have come as a shock to those who think Vaughters is the second coming of Christ (or the third if you count Lance), but I think that for most people, this won’t change their opinion of him. Man races bike, is not proud of some of his achievements, becomes very driven to start a team focused on clean cycling, gives several ex-dopers a second chance, etc, etc. It’s not rocket science.

The previous paragraph may surprise some people given my comments on Frei and Dekker. However, I have never questioned people’s right to a second chance, my point is only that teams equally have a right to give that chance to somebody else and normally I favor giving a first chance to a new rider over giving a second chance to an old one. Which is why, as has been reported before by Jonathan, I disagreed vehemently with him about giving Dekker a second chance.

But does this mean that Vaughters deserves a second chance, this time as a team director? Not sure “deserving” is the right word, but it’s his good right to accept what people offer him. Doug Ellis heard Vaughters’ story and offered him a chance to execute the vision for a different kind of team. And the team seems to have achieved some success in that regard.

That doesn’t make me a fan of Vaughters, but it does make me a fan of Ellis who I think is one of the bright spots in the often disappointing sport of pro cycling.

To be continued Wednesday, you can subscribe to this blog if you don’t want to miss it.

51 Responses to “Vaughters – part 1”

  1. Chickeee Says:

    Indeed, the second chance is part of the rules against doping

    • Nadav Rudnik Says:

      I like to read what you write ,its that sometime you sound spoiled ,sorry looser, maybe some times a cry baby which is un necessary ,you have achived alot .
      But yor writing is very interesting.
      Sorry for the English
      Nadav
      Galed, Israel

      • Evan Shaw Says:

        how about keeping to the issues rather than making snide personal remarks?


      • Hi Nadav, I’m not sure which part you don’t like or what sounds spoiled or like a sour loser. It seems people read all sorts of things in here that I really wasn’t trying to say, but I guess that happens with the written word. Thanks for reading.

  2. Leon Says:

    A good one, Gerard! Like all the others….

  3. hosni Says:

    A wise man once said: “You have joined a story in progress.” This post strikes me as being more about interpersonal issues between the author and subject of the post, rather than the principles at play.

    • hosni was rght Says:

      I agree. Seems like personal animus.

      • Toby Says:

        I disagree. I know Gerard and I know JV and I don’t think Gerard’s views reflect anymore animosity towards JV than anyone else who helped push the cart of doping down the path. Some got off earlier than others, some try to stop it by pushing back after they got off but it seems to me they went a long way down that road and took advantage of the benefits before seeing the error of their ways. You want professional cycling fixed, stop hero worshiping those who were “born again” and welcome a new generation of young, clean riders and maybe directors.

        • Matt Rose Says:

          The problem is that all of the people that spoke out against it at the time, like Bassons and Simeoni is entirely out of the sport, and even people who just gave up the whole European scene like Gord Fraser or Adam Myerson ended up unable to really do anything to change the European scene (though they have changed the US scene for the better)

          JV may have “helped push the cart” but he has influenced cycling for the better just by pushing the idea of a “clean team”

          His “clean team” policies were a model for team policies like those of Highroad, and Team Sky, and I think even Cervelo Test Team.


      • Not really. JV and I probably disagree about most topics, from race radios to jersey zippers to ex-dopers back into the sport to how to how pro cycling should be funded to what riders should do the evening before a race to what access press and VIPs should have to a team to what the AIGCP should focus on to …..

        Should I not speak about that because I think he’s a nice guy? Or should we both speak about that (as we both do) so that people can hear both sides and make up their own mind?


    • Hi Hosni, not much I can say to convince you otherwise in that regard I suppose, but I’d be interested to hear your opinion on the principles at play?

  4. Sergio Pinotti Says:

    I do miss Bob Stapleton. Period.

  5. Overtoom street Says:

    What do I think?

    I think you would be so much better designing frames, rather than talking bout doping. Sure whoever can talk bout whatever, but quite frankly I couldn’t care less but your opinion in this issues. I would really appreciate your thoughts on materials, technologies, geometries and frame designs though…

    • Col Says:

      If you don’t like it then don’t read it. Simple.

    • Evan Shaw Says:

      how about respond to the issue and not give nasty personal responses.


    • Hi Overtoom, no problem. There is a website with my design, materials, geometries ideas, it’s right here: http://opencycle.com. This gerard.cc site is more geared towards other topics, like racing, doping, riding and sometimes some general bike stuff (like the handlebar height series). If that’s not really your cup of tea, no problem but it seems some other people enjoy it so I’ll keep writing about all the issues and simply divide it between the two sites.

  6. Simon Says:

    It does sound fair that the opportunity should go to the new rider…the unblemished. Except when I consider that all progress seems to come from falling over..making mistakes and learning from them. I think that right now cycling is very much the better for JV.

    • Toby Says:

      That’s all well and good but doping is not just a mistake, I forgot my helmet, that’s a mistake, doping is cheating and a cancer to all sporting, period. As for JV and cycling being that much better with him in it, on aggregate, I think it’s a wash. What’s he done that wouldn’t have been done by some other director/general manager that maybe didn’t ride the Tour but also never doped? He has raised some aspects of the professionalism of cycling but anyone who has a true grasp of how unprofessional pro cycling has been will understand that that was not that hard to do. Again, I ask, would someone else, from some other background have been as effective? I think so.

      • Matt Rose Says:

        I actually don’t think somebody from some other background would have been as effective, it takes a lot of determination to run any cycling team, and to deliberately handcuff yourself wrt to doping like that would be considered crazy by anyone else. You could say that some other DS or manager *would* have done the same thing, but the fact is, for 10+ years nobody else did.

  7. John Says:

    At least JV is 180 degrees from the likes of teams who attempt to scoop up certain tainted–but “proven”–riders (RR, VDB) for bargain prices as they make their 2nd & 3rd rounds. Millar and Dekker paid the price. Millar had an obvious role in a younger ProTour team, not only with his talent and experience, but with his own public cautionary tale. Dekker had shown himself to be the real deal (his numbers, not any certain doped performance)–and JV made him prove that again, while undergoing continual monitoring. JV invests in his riders and it has paid off. He also currently has almost a dozen riders 25 and under on the ProTour team, not to mention Conti and Jr teams. A strong nod to youth and espoir (hope). I agree with Simon that cycling is much the better for the likes of JV.

  8. TheDude Says:

    I’m curious to when Brunyeel will offer an editorial of transparency and self disclosure. :-)

  9. Evan Shaw Says:

    I think civilization learned an essential truth at Nuremburg, in matter vast and in matters small, EVERY person, whether the commander leader or grunt, soldier or civilian is RESPONSIBLE for their choices. AND circumstances exacerbate and mitigate but do not CAUSE us to follow immoral choices.

    The central problem with JV is that he never fully assumes responsibility for his actions then nor now. It was because he was pressured because he had few alternatives, and so on.

    I believe in atonement and second chances sometimes, i.e., but we don’t always give them, as in a bank president who embezzles our money.

    JV profited from his doping, never served a punishment, and profits from being in the business today.

    JV, give us how you did it, what you used, and how others did so also. Come clean entirely fully. Otherwise, although I have always liked and given him the benefit of the doubt, it seems that his actions have served himself just a bit too much.

    I agree with Gerard, second chances should be given as a last consideration not an entitlement. Like, Vino, just gives a bad smell to the whole deal, his macho entitled never admit ways. Are we to believe it all adds up to a 40 year old with injuries who kicks all and wins gold without doping?

  10. Evan Shaw Says:

    Just read Tyler Hamilton is publishing a book, with complete openness. Hopefully, the proceeds goes to charity and community. Regardless, I do hope it is truthful, and he owns his wrong choices. Unlike Riis, I do cheer the willingness to say it all rather than thread the needle. An infected wound, in all sports, not just cycling is healed only by lancing it and draining it all. ALL


  11. It seems to me that, in regards to a commitment to clean sport, Vaughters/Garmin has asked far more from Dekker/ Millar etc. than Cervelo did in the early years with Riis and the CSC outfit.


    • Apples and oranges really.

      If you want to compare my first exposure to pro cycling with JV’s second, go ahead and no doubt you’ll find he did better in that comparison (as if it were a competition). If you compare first foray with first foray and second with second, you might be able to make a more fair assessment. So check what I asked of Riis and what JV asked of Bruyneel. Or what JV put into Slipstream and what I put into the TestTeam. I think both JV and I sleep peacefully when we look at the overall.

      I am pretty comfortable with my activities in pro cycling. In retrospect, they include sponsoring the wrong team, the right team, helping to pay for the first program to track bio markers which would eventually lead to the biological passport (although you can question what the original goal was and I certainly got a bit disillusioned), using our own money to run a team when sponsorships were insufficient – until we no longer could – and plenty of other things.

      Of course I have made mistakes, more than if I had stayed on the couch and done nothing – but that’s always the case isn’t it?

      • Anonymous Says:

        That is certainly a fair point. Please don’t get me wrong, cycling needs more people to follow in the path of leaders like Vaughters and yourself. We need more people with the courage to speak out and take a stand for the good of the sport.

  12. James Drake Says:

    You need a thief to catch a thief.. That’s ao old expression, but perhaps in cycling this might be true. Certainly there is space for clean riders and clean directors, but we are still in a transition phase, owning up to the past and cleaning up for the present and future with new expectations and ideals for riders. If the choice between a “clean” and tainted rider or sports director needs to be made, then you need to evaluate who will be better for the sport in the long run. The fact that past cheats can come back (albeit showing the required contriteness and with the right attitude about doping which means accepting the fact clearly and unambiguously as many riders have not (Basso, Vinokurov etc)) is a necessity if riders are to stop doping. Will we trust these ex-dopers?! Well, depends again on their attitude, their positive role model potential, and their constant fight against the very thing they embraced in the past, doping. Too many just pay the fine and then go back to racing as if nothing had happened. THOSE riders shouldn’t be given a second chance. Because another expression says, once a thief, always a thief.. So in order to break that cycle, you need to be proactive, always positively engaged and on the right side of the battle-lines, without fearing to speak out. Before it was difficult when “everyone” doped. Today it is easier. But some large Icons have yet to fall before the EPO era can be confidently defeated. So JV, you get my vote (except on the radios).


    • It takes a thief to catch a thief? But we’re not talking about putting ex-doping athletes in WADA, are we? We are talking about ex-doping riders coming back to ride or run a team.

      And you don’t need to be an ex-doper to be a rider or a team manager. In fact, you don’t need to have been a clean rider either to run a team Thankfully Brailsford finally proved that, in fact he showed that it can be a huge advantage not to be stuck in the old world.

      I’ll end with my new favorite quote, by Arrigo Sacchi:

      “You don’t need to have been a horse to be a jockey”

  13. Tim Says:

    With regards this idea that you should give an untainted rider a chance before an ex-doper, doesn’t it depend entirely on how good a bike rider the untainted rider is?

    Personally I’m very enthusiastic about riding my bike, and would love to be a pro rider. And I’ve never gone near a performance enhancing drug. Never mind that I’m 37, have a replacement knee ligament, am around 95kgs, and have never taken part in an organised bike race in my life. I’m untainted and I have a dream, so should I have some moral right to a chance above someone who once took drugs, but can now (apparently clean) achieve actual race wins in the pro peloton?

    Obviously not, but ultimately, however marginal you make the cut, the young untainted espoir is either going to have the goods or not, just like the slightly older, tainted, ex-drug taker. And if you haven’t got the goods then better to be cut loose early then ‘follow your dream’ if it’s just going to result in failure. Surely that’s the harsh nature of competitive sports?


    • It’s not that clearcut. Every year there is a large group of young riders, and it is difficult to know who will make it and who won’t. It’s not that those who “have the goods” get a chance and the rest don’t, it’s a gamble. Of course there is always a Boasson Hagen or Degenkolb, but for most only time will tell if they make it.

      And so when there are 100 guys like that and only 50 get a spot, it doesn’t mean the other 50 aren’t good enough. They were just unlucky, or didn’t have the connections, or whatever reason. It’s not like in some other sports, the way to assess potential success is not as developed. There are fewer ways to judge a young rider, there are no extensive boot camps, etc.

      By the same token, the established rider coming back is no guarantee either (ex-doper or not). So if you’re going to take a flyer, you may as well do it on a new rider who deserves it but never got the chance (not just any 95kg guy, no offense).

      • Tim Says:

        Yeah, I know it’s always a gamble, but I’d make two points. The first is in cycling, given the level of performance data available surely it is easier than in lots of sports to assess potential – any given rider can push x watts for y minutes, and the guy who has a higher x and y is surely the better bet?

        The second is that I just don’t get your logic at the end – because there is uncertainty in life you might as well take a chance on the guy who ‘deserves’ it more by never having made a mistake. The point I was making is that that doesn’t wash in a pro sports context – you take a flyer on the guy who you judge is the most likely to do well.


        • Not really. Mark Cavendish has famously failed the key performance factors that GB Cycling has. Luckily there was somebody who thought “there’s something about this kid”. So there actually isn’t that much data, and there is even less knowledge about what that data actually means in the real world. My second point was that if it’s a wash (which it often is when you just don’t have the data or don’t know how to interpret it), you may as well give somebody a chance who never had one.


        • To add to that last point, if you’re a team that wants to promote anti-doping, then your choices are not only determined by the performance. You may choose an ex-doper like Dekker even if he is LESS likely to succeed, simply because you want to make a point. Or you may choose a “first-chancer” even if he is LESS likely to succeed, to make a different kind of point. Or take Euskatel, they choose riders based on nationality, as do to a lesser degree GreenEdge, Sky, Rabobank, etc. These all have a negative effect on performance, but exactly BECAUSE it’s a pro sport it’s not only about performance. It is also about marketing for example.

  14. Evan Shaw Says:

    So why not just have a bank,robbery model. You get caught and no return to racing,and especially no return to,managing. And their are penalties for managers as well.
    Doping is NOT a mistake. It is,depraved criminal indifference that is, a sequence of selfish callous grandious sociopathic acts which become more egregious over time.

    Dopers are diverse showing varying degrees of is disregard, however. All wish to have a power over others.

    This is not the person even reformed back in the,drivers,seat. As a researcher I have seen individuals like these go from doping to needing to find new ways of power. Being a team manager looks like a reform.

    But a truly reformed person does not continue,being overly entitled. JV if really reformed should have done community service but quit the race world as an act of contrition and demonstration he gave up the entitled ways.

    This is difficult to explain,without sounding,harsh or to severe. However, why can’t,we insist on clean racers and managers!

    That is the strongest message to racers and teams.

  15. Hans Says:

    Vaughters’s confession raises more questions than answers.

    Why did he wait so long to speak out, and only does so now that the USADA and federal investigations are starting to out him anyway? Seems like once again he makes the decision for selfish reasons, just like when he doped.

    And he is implicating Bruyneal (“the boss”), yet he has done nothing to stop Bruyneal from running a team (and therefore presumably by Vaughters’s logic) continuing to ruin fine, upstanding riders. Heck, instead of working with authorities to get people like Bruyneal out of the sport this past decade, Vaughters tried to work with Bruyneal to set up the breakaway league. That whole thing seemed to be based on the work of exactly those two. Again it appears pretty selfish.

    And what now? He admits to the crime and just continues on without any penalty. The perfect crime, chapeau.

    • packfill Says:

      How do you know all that? Sure you must be an insider!

    • Luis Oliveira Says:

      My trying :

      “Why did he wait so long to speak out” ‘
      cause even now it’s too dangerous to do so, as proven by the reactions from both sides

      “…only does so now that the USADA and federal investigations are starting to out him anyway?”
      As far as one can tell, he is one of the cooperating witnesses. As a matter of fact, he is not one of the six people charged for the conspiracy, so, there is no outing here.

      “he has done nothing to stop Bruyneal from running a team ”
      Like what? What could’ve he done?

      “…instead of working with authorities to get people like…”
      Looks like that’s what he’s doing now. And looks that now that are authorities that are wiling to do so.

      • Hans Says:

        Dangerous to speak out? Some of his teammates spoke out 10 years ago, all the T-Mobile riders five years ago. Kimmage. Bassons, etc even longer. They all lived. True, they paid a price, financially and emotionally, and obviously Mr. Vaughters wasn’t willing to pay any price. He wanted to make a good salary as a rider and now as a team manager, and didn’t feel like risking any of it. So he admits when he feels his position is secure, in fact, when he feels it’s beneficial to do so.

        And I love how you say he is cooperating now, as if authorities weren’t interested before. They’ve been looking for witnesses forever. And when Vaughters’ “friend” Andreu spoke out, Vaughters left him hanging.

  16. Luis Oliveira Says:

    Man, it must be nice to live in the moral high ground, where decisions are always clear cut and there are no ethical dilemmas, just black and white.

    Never mind that JV said that he made a mistake. Who cares if he is vocal against doping an is willing to speak with his pocket. Who gives a crap about his impact on pro cycling (as a matter of fact, what impact?)

    Are you sure that you’ve read the same text I did? ‘Cause, in the one I read wasn’t ’bout the problems of farming talent in cycling, but about doping. He was saying that we should have an environment where young riders don’t have to make decisions like he did (the wrong one, he’s ready to admit, mind you).

    • Anonymous Says:

      Is this directed at me? If so, which statements? I can’t really follow.

      • Luis Oliveira Says:

        It could be directed at you if I knew who you are, “anonymous”


      • This would be Gerard, not sure why I show as Anonymous on my own blog!

      • Luis Oliveira Says:

        All right, now that we know, yep, it’s directed at you as well (but not only).

        I insist: JV piece on NYT has nothing to do with him coming clean. That’s water under the bridge. You knew it, I knew it, everybody knew it. And you said as much.

        But then you turn around and start asking if he deserves (or whatever) a second chance as team director. This is completely not the point. The point (a VERY good one) is that the best way to avoid young riders making bad decisions (like he did) is to not present the decision in the first place. He can (and will) be a team director if (i) the rules allow it, and (ii) someone gives him the job.

        We could discuss all the other stuff if you want, but I think it is very important that we agree that witch hunting mode is not conductive to better understanding (let’s no mention that someone even compared dopers to nazis and someone else used the “c” word).


        • Thanks for the reply.

          Well, I can write about whatever I want, as can you. I don’t think there’s a law that obliges me to confine my blog to whatever is proffered up on the opinion pages of the NYT.

          In this case, the blog came from some messages that people sent me as a reaction to the NYT piece, about whether or not I felt comfortable with JV in the position he has given his past. I guess that wasn’t very clear. As I think my blog indicated, I’m not worried about him in that position as it is not really a surprise. Would it be my first choice? No, but that is also something consistent with what I have said before. And it’s not my or anybody else’s position to make, it’s Doug Ellis as team owner who decides who runs his team and executes his vision.

          As to the suggestions on how the sport can be clean, that was going to be part 2.

          BTW, regarding moral high ground, no such thing. It’s easy to never dope if you’re never any good. It’s no accomplishment of mine that I’ve always ridden clean. What I would have done in the same situation, we’ll simply never know. At the same time, it does bother me a bit when “second chancers” claim the moral high ground, but that’s for another time.

  17. Evan Shaw Says:

    I don’t buy this stuff about moral high ground, or easy to be moral if no talent, no pressure, etc. If we have no integrity, if we are callous about how we affect and destroy others, if we care only about ourselves, then I say, leave and stray gone.

    The gold medal winner in the 100 meter Butterfly I think, admitted to cheating during his medal race(he took three dolphin kicks per lap as he pushed off instead of the allowed one kick. He said he did not care if he cheats, if the others get away with it, then he was going to cheat too.

    I say, forget watching or caring about the Olympics, and frankly all sports. Sports are now big money and those attracted to it are mostly narcissistic and shallow folks with little else going for them. The rare caring and decent folks are at a massive disadvantage in today’s big money sports.

    I am going to ride my Cervelo and just enjoy life. Bye bye professional//Olympics. Bye bye UCI and the Tour. Have fun making a big deal out of a charade.

    Expecting those who enter this system to be caring of each other the fans and being decent folks is not reasonable.

    • Luis Oliveira Says:

      Gerard, I’m sorry if I gave the impression that you could not write about whatever you want to (like I could do anything about it). Much to the contrary, that’s the reason I read your blog and follow your tweeter feed. Write on.

      And no, It wasn’t clear to me that you’re responding to people’s request on JV. But it’s clear now and I see where you’re coming from.

      And I will read your post tomorrow and comment it only if it ticks me off, just like this one did. Best

  18. John Says:

    Something that might have been overlooked in this entire thread was the messaging in JV’s NYT piece: if you’ve spent half your life sacrificing for the goal, and you’re young and impressionable, and a number of DSs are saying you’re done if you don’t medicate–are you willing to hang it up? Chances are, if you answer yes to that question, you wouldn’t have gotten to that level in the first place.
    Have you been close to that situation and given it all up on principal at that point? Really? Then join Mr Kimmage and tell yr tale. I’ve been around so many more of the opposite–even high-end no-hopers for the Euro-pro ranks who had dedicated their lives to the bike and were willing to do anything to stay in the semi-pro game, let alone come out on top. To me, that’s really sad, but that’s part of the drive. They are the ones who are willing to give up everything–relationships, family, loved one, to get there.
    –J

    • Evan Shaw Says:

      Yes, i see your points John. I think that riders like JV and Tyler Hamilton were low level followers as it were, and have accountability for their actions, yet a far lower level than LA, Bruyneel, Team Doctors, etc. Yes I believe in due process regards the above, yet the index of suspicion is beyond probable cause to investigate and have their day of arbitration.


  19. [...] insider’s perspective on doping in a couple of posts earlier this week (you can find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here). Vroomen is more usympathetic to other opinions I’ve seen and it is, I [...]


  20. [...] playing field and wouldn’t dope if they didn’t have to”, that sort of stuff) which I didn’t like, this rant is actually clear and quite concise and I even agree with most of [...]


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