Australia fires White for role in Armstrong doping
Australia sacked former Olympian Matt White on Wednesday for his role in the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, while ruling out any amnesty with athletes who owned up to using drugs.
The sport’s governing body in Australia held a board meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the dossier of evidence by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and admitted it was “incredibly damaging for cycling worldwide”.
“The evidence presented is damning, the behaviour of the key players is morally reprehensible and cycling fans have every right to feel let down,” it said in a statement.
USADA accuses Armstrong of being at the heart of the biggest doping conspiracy in sports history when he won seven straight Tour de France titles. Armstrong has denied any wrongdoing.
White, 38, admitted at the weekend that he was part of a strategy of doping when he rode on the Armstrong-led US Postal Service cycling team from 2001 to 2003.
He said he was stepping down from his jobs as the sports director of the emerging Australian professional team Orica-GreenEDGE and his role in Cycling Australia’s men’s road racing programme.
Cycling Australia said he had made a valuable contribution, but it was left with no choice but to dismiss him.
“The admissions contained within his public statement... clearly place him in breach of the CA Anti-Doping Policy and Code of Conduct,” it said.
“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.”
In a statement, White said he hoped for “a clear path and a bright future for the sport”.
“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,” he said.
White is currently facing an investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), which said this week it became aware of allegations of doping made against him by American cyclist Floyd Landis in 2010.
But the anti-doping agency said that due to the federal investigation in the United States and the subsequent USADA probe, ASADA was unable to obtain information to pursue a thorough examination of the allegations until now.
White was hired by Cycling Australia last year and the governing body said a review of how it appoints staff would begin immediately.
The board also ruled out any doping amnesty, which had been flagged as a possibility by the head of Cycling Australia Klaus Mueller just days ago.
“The board canvassed several of the suggestions that have been in the public arena this past week and resolved that an amnesty is not consistent with CA’s strong anti-doping position,” it said.
“The board does however support criminalising doping as it sends a strong message that such conduct is unacceptable and adds the resources of the police to the fight against this blight on sport.”
While Cycling Australia said it believed “there are many good things happening in the sport” despite the scandal, it blasted cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, for not doing enough to stamp out performance-enhancing drugs.
“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,” said the CA board.
“How the UCI responds to the USADA file and how it addresses the allegations within it will be critical to the reputation of the organisation and that of the sport of cycling.”