Garmin-Cervelo fires Matt White due to referral of Trent Lowe to suspect doctor
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Garmin-Cervelo fires Matt White due to referral of Trent Lowe to suspect doctor

by Shane Stokes at 6:04 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Says that Australian broke team’s strict code of ethics

Matt WhiteThe Garmin-Cervélo team has announced the dismissal of long-running directeur sportif Matt White, on the grounds that it said that he broke team policy by referring a rider to a doctor from outside the team. The incident took place in April 2009, when White sent now-departed rider Trent Lowe to see controversial Spanish doctor Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral for physiological testing.

Del Moral was the former doctor of the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel team and was implicated when Floyd Landis alleged that there was an internal doping network operation on the first of those squads. Del Moral denied those claims last August.

The same doctor was also implicated by doper-turned-whistleblower Jesus Manzano, who said that he was tipped off by haematologist and lab owner Walter Viru when testers were due to visit the team.

White competed with the US Postal Service team between 2001 and 2003, his time overlapping with that of Landis. He then returned to the setup when he raced for the Discovery Channel team between 2005 and 2007. He retired at the end of the latter season.

In a statement, Garmin-Cervélo management Slipsteam Sports said that White sent Lowe to the Sports Institute of Valencia to see Del Moral.

“Slipstream Sports has an explicit internal policy that all medical referrals are approved by our medical staff,” it said. “In this instance, this vital rule was broken. As a result, the Board of Directors has dismissed Matt White.” It later told VeloNation that Lowe had a VO2 max and body composition testing done in Del Moral’s Valencia lab.

Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters will temporarily take over the position of director of competition. The team has said it is actively looking for a replacement for White.

“We made a promise to our riders and to the world when we started this team. We live, every day, by the standards we have set for ourselves,” he said, referring to the strict ethical policy the team has long cited as the cornerstone of its beliefs. “We cannot allow this vital team rule to be broken.”

White has been rumoured to have been involved in enticing riders to go to the planned GreenEdge team, an new Australian setup aiming for ProTeam status for 2012. Several of Garmin’s Australian contingent were suggested as being targets.

Today’s statement rules that out as a factor. “We want to make it clear that we are parting ways for one reason and one reason only: because this vital team rule was broken,” it said. Jonathan Vaughters later confirmed this to VeloNation, saying that the sole reason for the decision was because of Lowe’s referral to Del Moral.

The team’s two main sponsors have said that they fully back Vaughters. “We initially partnered with Slipstream Sports because we believe in their mission,” said Jon Cassat of Garmin. “We remain committed to Slipstream Sports and commend its management for holding true to the organization’s values and high standards.”

Cervélo co-founder and CEO Gerard Vroomen believes that it shows the team is serious about doing things in the correct way. “It’s tough news but it gives me a lot of confidence in the Slipstream organization,” he said. “It’s easy to take a tough stance when there are no consequences, it’s much more impressive when a team is willing to take a bullet to protect its philosophy and the cycling sport in general.”

Garmin-Cervélo has got the year off to a very strong start with Jack Bobridge’s Australian national championship triumph and Cameron Meyer’s overall win today in the Santos Tour Down Under, the first UCI World Tour event of the year.

Lowe raced with the team between 2008 and 2010, netting the runner-up slot in the Tour de Georgia during the second of those three years. He was due to compete with the Pegasus Sports team in 2011 but the future of that team is uncertain due to licence issues with the UCI.

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