What's Cool In Road Cycling

Looking Out For #1: Team Mgmt Vs. Riders

Watching and reading the back and fourth regarding Scott Moninger’s positive test for 19-Norandrosterone makes it clear that the “self preservation” instinct is alive and well in both Cycling team management and at the USADA.

Any organization that lacks the ability to take instances of infraction in a case by case basis needs to re-think their structure, purpose and function so that they can better serve there client list. They are there to serve riders and by doing so, ensure that the public get to view competition untainted by cheats. Instead we see the organization take every opportunity to toot their own horn and make examples of the very few people they manage to catch, and regardless of circumstance, do whatever they can in an attempt to justify their existence rather than what’s best for athlete and sport.

Unfortunately the same type of shameful self preservation has appeared from the likes of Scott’s team management and Jeff Corbett of the 7UP Nutra Fig team in comments in Velonews’ letters forum.

As mentioned in Stephan Wulbachs story, Thurlow Rogers explains the necessity to suspend and fine Scott, after a poor attempt at supporting him and fully recognizing that in a case of zero intent and no ability for Scott to have known about his infraction, that punishment was not needed. Here’s hoping that other riders that have the opportunity to ride for management that will support them, do so for other teams rather than being a part of the Steel Wheels organization.

Rodgers’ letter is followed by a letter from Jonathan Vaughters that pretty accurately makes statement to the stupidity of “zero tolerance policy” and the lack of teeth at the USADA. The knee jerk response from Jeff Corbett of 7 UP Nutra Fig in an attempt to justify team managers covering their own ass was a classic. Corbett (after taking what appeared to be a jealous swipe at Jonathan’s European racing experience) maintains that ejecting a rider from a squad – regardless of that rider’s character, history and relationship with the team – is a way to maintain their sponsor’s image in the case of a positive drug test, and that’s absolute hog wash. The team’s sponsors are not retroactively removed from the press, nor are they instantly saved any bad publicity as the process rolls forward. (Does anyone call the fiasco of the 98 Tour anything but the Festina affair? And that team doesn’t even exist anymore…)

Firing a rider when the case doesn’t warrant it doesn’t help maintain anyone’s integrity or protect anyone’s image. As a matter of fact, the Cycling public who the sponsors are trying to reach, are more likely to remember the unjust abandoning of a rider in a feeble attempt to cover one’s ass. And the effort by Jeff Corbett of 7UP Nutra Fig to support that firing is equally as bad as the firing itself. Hopefully the actions of Steel Wheels’ Thurlow Rogers and 7UP Nutrafig’s Jeff Corbett are what get remembered by the Cyclists they attempt to gain the trust of in the future.

Riders beware of these managers, if it comes down to your best interests or theirs (even when the sponsors won’t be protected), you know where the axe will fall with regard to these two teams.

See PCN related stories:
Unregulated Supplements Bad For Moninger
Dietary Supplements: Caveat Emptor

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