Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jonathan Vaughters' Article

Jonathan Vaughters Director Jonathan Vaughters of the Team Garmin Cervelo looks on at the start of stage one of the 2011 AMGEN Tour of California from South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe is delayed because of snow on May 15, 2011 in South Lake Tahoe, California.
Earlier this week Jonathan Vaughters "came out" to the general public and confessed to having doped during his career as a professional racer. It's taken me a little while to process what he had to say. But I feel like there are definitely some worth while thoughts and ideas to discuss. You can read the article here.

To someone who has had an interest in pro cycling and doping for any length of time this confession isn't terribly surprising. There have been hints by Vaughters throughout the years. As well as the infamous instant message conversation between Jonathan and Frankie Andreu. So the writing was on the wall.

All that being said, and I don't care who you are. To come out and directly confess to the public that you doped shows a lot of moxie, it takes sand. So some deserved kudos to him for that.

But I also wonder why he chose now to confess? What made this the time to proceed? I can understand someones need to clear their conscience, but it seems like an odd time to do it. Since he hasn't been a pro racer in almost a decade. He still has a vital role within cycling as the director for a Pro Tour level team (Garmin). As well as a major voice and an influence of new riders coming up through the ranks. But there still seems to be an air of this being self serving. Weather it's a pro-active strike on some larger news coming down the pike. Perhaps the Armstrong case or maybe even Tyler Hamilton's book coming out in a month. Or maybe it's something else. I don't know. After a while it's hard not to be a little jaded...

I'm always interested in the human condition and our incessant need to rationalized what we do. If we do something wrong. We try and give ourselves a set of reasons why we chose what we chose or did what we did. In my mind its a kind of survival technique... For a lot of us, if we really looked at what we have done or said in an objective way it would be hard to live with ourselves and our choices. Before you start pointing fingers at me please, don't get me wrong. I'm not putting myself on a different plain. I make selfish choices all the time. Just like everyone else. Sometimes I regret them (Most of the time.) other times I don't. But to see Vaughters' own rationalization of being ambitious and destined  or wanting it to be a level playing field doesn't hold much water for me. We all feel like we are the exception to the rule. We all feel like we deserve the special treatment because our circumstances are "different". But the reality is that there is always a choice. Maybe the right choice isn't easy. But the right way is rarely the easy way.

He does touch on some of his moral dilemma when he discusses it eating him up inside with guilt. Predicating his eventual leaving of the professional ranks. Which is a good thing (The guilt, not the leaving). It shows that he has scruples... At least to a certain extent.

I do wish he would have been a little more specific in his details. I know the article was written for a New York Times audience and not the hardened cycling fan. But surely there is a lot more detail in the who's, the how's and whys of his doping. As a fan and a person who really wants to see this sport get it's act together. I think having a seemingly real leader within the sport put his head on the chopping block for everyone to see with no fear would be what a real leader and a truly penitent man would do. At least in my mind. To help the anti-doping efforts that are going on right now. I'm sure there are a lot of those same people and mentalities in the sport today.  Or maybe I've just been watching Braveheart to much...

The part where he talks about his team and taking doping completely out of the equation for them is something that in my mind is just towing the company line. It's something that he has talked about many times before. Again, perhaps its because of the audience. But it certainly isn't anything new since the teams inception.

Also making it okay for his racers not to win seems a touch hypocritical. If that were the case he would have the same guys riding now as when he started. Teams are there because of sponsors. Sponsors are there to have their brand shown not only in front of the crowd as the peloton rolls by. But also in TV coverage, news papers and magazines. You don't get seen in those medias without winning. So I'm not completely buying that portion of his propaganda.

I generally really like Jonathan. He's a very colorful character in our sport. I think he's a very good director and a nice guy. He's made himself very available to the cycling fans via Twitter. He answers questions more openly and honestly than just about anyone else within the sport. Which makes it really hard not to be biased towards him.

I hope that his confession was just a plight of conscience and not a posturing for something yet to come.

I guess we will find out in due time... 

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

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