Garmin-Sharp team manager and AIGCP president Jonathan Vaughters recently sat down with several VeloNews editors in his hometown of Denver to discuss a variety of topics affecting the sport of professional cycling. And while much of that interview will be rolled out in an upcoming issue of Velo magazine, several of Vaughters' comments, on time-sensitive subjects, are shared below.
On why Garmin has not hired jobless American Levi Leipheimer:
"I disagree with what Omega Pharma-Quick Step did in firing him. I think it's ridiculous. I think that was old school, omerta-enforcing, poor decision making. My best reason for why we haven't hired him yet is that this caught us at a bit of a bad moment. We are more than likely folding up our Continental team, and we're trying to take on as many of those young guys as we can. The question for me is not about hiring Levi or not, it is am I going to boot a kid who is winning races for me in the U23 ranks so that Levi can have one last year? We are obviously already supporting people in his position, and I feel like, while I need to be loyal to our philosophy, I also need to be loyal to our young athletes."
On a Nov. 28 Twitter spat with Johan Bruyneel, regarding the Change Cycling Now summit, when the Belgian referred to Vaughters as "a douche" -- and Vaughters had a snappy reply:
"It's unfortunate that he is angry with me because, when I was questioned by an authority, I told the truth. But what was I supposed to do, lie to them? I find it a little sad that I draw the criticism. Our team policy [published May 2010, that Garmin riders must cooperate with anti-doping and governmental authorities] was public for three years now. If he wanted to be upset, he should have been upset three years ago, because once you say that, you have to live by it. That's just a basic value. If you're going to put it out there, you'd better live and die by it."
On what Bruyneel's strategy might be facing an upcoming U.S. Anti-Doping Agency arbitration hearing:
"I imagine that he will come out with three, four, five riders, who will say, 'I never saw any doping, I didn't witness this, but I did notice that Vaughters, Zabriskie, Hincapie, whoever, were very interested in doping. They were trying to get it down on their own.' Is there a valid strategy there to win the arbitration hearing? Probably not. But there might be a strategy there to make all of the witnesses look bad, and then say publicly, 'I'm not going to go to arbitration because it's rigged, but look at these four or five guys that I have standing behind me, saying they didn't see anything -- and why are those witnesses worth more than my witnesses?' I think that's the strategy."
Thoughts heading into last weekend's inaugural meeting of the Change Cycling Now organization:
My hope is that (World Anti-Doping Agency director general) David Howman will feel how motivated some people in cycling are to make a change, and that he'll take some of that motivation and try to execute from WADA's perspective. I also hope that some of the people, who have these very radical, revolutionary standpoints, will be able to see some of the pragmatic issues that they need to overcome to make their visions a reality. To me, it's impossible that something comes out of one weekend, but this is a starting point in a process in conversation that hopefully doesn't end up in a French Revolution scenario, but instead ends up in a positive, forward thinking scenario.
On USADA CEO Travis Tygart:
"I like Travis a lot. Travis, from my perspective, did nothing more than he was required to do. He was aware of the evidence gathered in the U.S. federal investigation ... he was provided evidence, and testimony, from Floyd [Landis], and people who had been discredited, but nonetheless what proved to be valid, truthful testimony. If he had decided to say, 'Well, that's in the past, we're not going to worry about it,' he's not doing his job. For me, he exhibited exactly what you want from somebody who doesn't have a conflict of interest. He wasn't being presented with pages of testimony and evidence regarding some other rider, who is racing right now. ... I don't see how he had a choice but to pursue it. He wasn't thinking about marketing decisions, and the good of the sport of cycling. His thought was anti-doping, period. This was a perfect example of why anti-doping governance has to be run by people who don't have a vested interest in the broader picture."