Vaughters' Doping Confession
Jonathan Vaughters confesses to doping, but is he the victim or the Jedi Master of Spin?
This past weekend Jonathan Vaughters authored an op-ed piece in the New York Times admitting to doping as a professional cyclist. To those that follow him on Twitter, it wasn't that much of a surprise. He'd been hinting at it for a couple of weeks on the micro-blogging site.
"I wonder if anyone is curious as to why I quit racing at 29, and walked away from the last 2 yrs of a pretty phat contract? Must be crazy," is one tweet he published at the end of July. On the Cyclismas.com site their contributor "Sarcastitom" chronicles much of the Twitter conversations Vaughters has had with people who react to this news like they were coming out of a dark cave and into the sunlight.
Throughout this initial exchange on Twitter, "Sarcastitom" accurately states that so far it's a "non-admission admission" to which Vaughters replies, "Dude, I am Jedi at that shit." So true ...
There are few directors that have embraced social media like Vaughters. He's made himself available to discussion and debate that can last for hours. As a result he's created JV fans that have become fans of his team, Garmin-Sharp. Or they were fans of the team and then became fans of Vaughters. Either way, can you think of any other director that has the fan base of Vaughters? Can you name more than a handful of team directors or team owners other than Vaughters and Johan Bruyneel?
So how is Vaughters a Jedi Master at spin? I suspect that JV has known for a while that the ongoing USADA investigation has his name somewhere in a dossier. Or perhaps Vaughters himself gave a statement about alleged doping that went on with the US Postal team. Instead of coming out years earlier, Vaughters' confession in the New York Times doesn't point to a specific date or race of when his doping occurred. The time frame we do have is that he cheated over eight years ago - beyond the statute of limitations.
There's another reason why he waited until now - to quote the blogger Inrng, "he would have been buried alive."
There is no upside to admitting anything years ago. Floyd Landis blasted off an email to USA Cycling and USADA describing in detail the names and dates of his doping offenses. The end result was he never rode as a professional cyclist again.
I was at the Amgen Tour of California when that happened and remember people on the side of the road holding signs with "Landis is a rat" like he'd given up information on the mafia. Vaughters said on Twitter that the vast majority of replies to his op-ed piece have been positive, so I don't expect to see any negative signage aimed at Vaughters at the upcoming USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado.
Was it fair for riders like Landis, Filippo Simeoni, and Christophe Bassons to be burned at the stake? No. And to my knowledge no other professional cyclists showed any public solidarity toward these riders. Instead the riders of that era