Why confessed doper White deserves a chance to move on

Five months have passed since Matt White confessed to doping as a rider on the US Postal Service team then led by Lance Armstrong. While he has been sacked as Cycling Australia national men’s road coach and Orica-GreenEDGE’s head sports director, his future remains in limbo – until there is a ruling on his case by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, with whom he is understood to have co-operated fully.
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Yet despite White having raised his hand when his name appeared in the US Anti-Doping Agency’s ”reasoned decision” in the Armstrong case, confessed his guilt and, as understood, having been candid with ASADA, the national agency says it still can’t give any indication of when it will judge his case.

All a spokesperson for ASADA could say on Wednesday was: ”ASADA’s cycling investigation is progressing. ASADA is unable to discuss the ongoing investigation or operational matters associated with the investigation until such time as its legislation permits.”

It is still worrying that despite the ASADA probe into cycling continuing, it has taken so long for one case to be decided; especially considering the potential number of cases that could emerge from the Australian Crime Commission’s investigation into doping and corruption in Australian sport.

Is Australian sport set for a line of similar delays? Or is the political weight of ACC and ASADA joint operation so great that the White/cycling dossier has been put on the backburner?

Whatever the answer, the delay by ASADA has left White’s life circling in a frustrating holding pattern. Furthermore, his ability to make amends for his doping hinges on ASADA – if he faces a ban, for how long?

White, it is understood, has not heard any developments on his case since he met ASADA investigators. But he is committed to working for clean cycling – to be part of the solution, rather than the problem. One step he has taken is to join the Union Cycliste Internationale stakeholders’ anti-doping work group that meets next week. But his future involvement in it, or cycling at all, rests on ASADA’s verdict.

Even if White learns that he faces a one-year or six-month ban, he could spend it planning his re-entry to the sport and involvement in future proposals to help cycling go forward.

White hopes for a future in cycling and to show his commitment for clean sport is as strong as before. When he confessed to his doping on October 13, he said in a statement: ”I stopped my racing career because I had the opportunity to be part of something that had the potential to actually change cycling.”

In 2008, the year after his retirement, he took the position of head sports director on the American Garmin team, advocating clean cycling – and a second chance, as other former drug users were on it.

The team introduced ”blood profiling” that was later developed into the athlete biological passport and a no-needles policy. Both were embraced by the UCI and WADA.

White erred in 2009 by referring Garmin rider Trent Lowe for a health check to a doctor later charged by USADA with Armstrong – Luis Garcia del Moral. White lost his job, however, not for a breach of doping protocol, but an internal team policy disallowing the use of doctors not approved by the team. The referral, White and Garmin said, was because Lowe lived in Valencia, where Dr del Moral practised.

When White left Garmin in 2011, he took with him his commitment to clean cycling – as well as a number of Australian riders from Garmin – to the Australian Orica-GreenEDGE team that began last year. Will it end at Orica-GreenEDGE and his sacking? It shouldn’t. White still has much to offer cycling – not just as a wise head who can run a bike team, but as one who has admitted to his past as a drug user and has openly said he wants to help riders – if not the whole sport – make sure they don’t follow the same path.

Twitter – @rupertguinness

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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