Slipstream Sports, owner of the Garmin-Cervelo team, has issued a statement on the events that lead to dismissal of directeur sportif Matt White from the squad at the weekend.
The statement concerns former Garmin rider Trent Lowe, who had been referred by White to former US Postal doctor Luis Garcia Del Moral in Valencia, Spain, in 2009. This was a breach of the team’s rules as all medical referrals should be made through the squad’s medical staff. White was subsequently dismissed.
During contractual negotiations earlier this month, according to Slipstream Sports, Lowe “threatened to publicly expose certain information relating to Dr Luis Garcia del Moral unless Slipstream acceded to their demands, which included a payment of €500,000 to Trent”.
According to the statement, Lowe visited del Moral in June 2009 for a quarterly UCI health check blood test.
The full statement from Slipstream Sports is reproduced below.
Slipstream Sports is committed to transparency and as such we want to share new information regarding Trent Lowe.
We have been in discussions with Trent Lowe and his advisor regarding the possible settlement of a proposed breach of contract threatened by Trent in connection with his rider agreement with Slipstream (which expired on December 31, 2010). In the course of these negotiations, on January 24, 2011, Trent, through his advisor, made it known that there was new information relating to Dr. Luis Garcia Del Moral. At this time they threatened to publicly expose certain information relating to Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral unless Slipstream acceded to their demands, which included a payment of €500,000 to Trent.
Upon receiving this new information we immediately conducted an internal investigation and found a PDF attachment to an email sent by Trent to Slipstream team doctor, Dr. Prentice Steffen, copying Jonathan Vaughters in June 2009. The PDF attachment was a copy of Trent’s UCI quarterly health check blood test conducted in June 2009 and it contained the name of Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral in the letterhead of the results. Neither Dr. Steffen nor Jonathan Vaughters noticed del Moral’s name on the letterhead in June 2009 and, at the time, neither Dr. Steffen nor Vaughters were aware that Trent had visited del Moral. In fact, Slipstream was not made aware of any interaction with del Moral until Trent disclosed the information on January 6, 2011. The test results were forwarded to the UCI, as is protocol with quarterly health checks.
It is critical to note that this blood test was a 3rd quarter UCI health check test, a procedure mandated by the UCI to ensure the health of the riders, and not an anti-doping measure. This health check has nothing to do with the biological passport or ASDI. UCI health check blood tests may be done at any laboratory of the rider’s volition and do not have to follow any of the handling guidelines that anti-doping tests must.
The PDF was not discovered in our original investigation as that investigation was focused on the referral made by Matt White. It is also important to note that blood tests in Spain do not require an order or attendance from a physician and that there does not seem to be any violation of team policy by Trent Lowe in connection with the performance of the mandated UCI blood tests. The only violation in team policy was the separate issue of the referral, which Slipstream addressed on January 23, 2011.
Slipstream is committed to putting processes in place that help underscore our values and as a result we have put a new policy in place for UCI quarterly health checks, effective immediately.
We are sharing all of this information in the interest of transparency. We welcome additional information from Trent and will act accordingly, as we have throughout this process, if and when he decides to provide it.
Following are details of the timeline surrounding Slipstream Sports and Trent Lowe:
January 6, 2011: Trent Lowe emailed Jonathan Vaughters regarding a contract dispute surrounding December 2010 payment. It is Slipstream’s position that Lowe violated the terms of his contract with Slipstream and, as a result, Slipstream did not pay him the remaining installment of salary and bonuses due under his contract for December 2010.
In that email, Trent also stated that Matt White had referred him to Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, which was the first time that Slipstream became aware that Trent had been referred to del Moral.
Jonathan Vaughters immediately responded to Trent asking him for details about the situation which Trent did not respond to.
Several attempts were made by Slipstream to reach Trent both directly and through his advisor, Martin Hardie, to obtain information about the referral and neither opted to provide that information.
Simultaneously, Slipstream also continued to try to settle the breach of contract dispute, but to this date a settlement has not been reached. Slipstream has consistently maintained that the contract issue was and is entirely separate from the referral issue.
Slipstream investigated the referral claim, which ultimately resulted in White’s dismissal on January 23.
January 24, 2011: Trent Lowe’s advisor, Martin Hardie, contacted Slipstream claiming to have a new communication between de Moral and the Slipstream organization.
The details concerning this are discussed above.
Again, we are sharing all of this information in the interest of transparency. We welcome additional information from Trent and will act accordingly, as we have throughout this process, if and when he decides to provide it.