VeloNews | Old doping accusations lead to altercation

It was over in an instant, but the altercation between a Tour of Utah race official and Garmin-Chipotle team doctor Prentice Steffen was years in the making.

Marty JemisonDuring the stage 3 criterium in Salt Lake City last Friday, Tour of Utah team liaison Marty Jemison, a former U.S. Postal Service rider, punched Steffen after the team doctor made what Jemison considered to be an inflammatory remark about alleged doping dating back over a decade.

Jemison and Steffen worked together at U.S. Postal during the 1996 season; Jemison was a talented American rider on the upstart squad, and Steffen was an emergency room physician and admitted recovering heroin addict.

In 2001 Steffen told Irish reporter David Walsh that in 1996 U.S. Postal riders Jemison and Tyler Hamilton had approached him during the Tour of Switzerland looking for information about illegal doping products. Steffen said he reported the incident to then-director Mark Gorski, and at the end of that year his contract with the team was not renewed.

Whether or not Prentice Steffen’s story is true or not, it has always smacked of disgruntled former employee sour grapes to me …

We all know about Tyler’s history, but no one has ever produced a shred of evidence other than Steffen’s testimony that Marty Jemison doped, or inquired about doping. And since it’s impossible to prove a negative, Jemison has no way of demonstrating that he rode clean.

So why keep telling the story, Dr. Steffen? What’s more, as an admitted junkie, how do we know that you’re not still sticking a needle in your arm? Are you being subjected to all the same tests that the riders on Garmin-Chipotle are? Can you prove that you weren’t actively using heroin at any point over the past 12 years, especially back in 2001 when you were telling your story to David Walsh; another man who seems to have an axe to grind?

Regardless of what may or may not have happened in 1996, it’s in the past and there’s no need to bring it up every chance you get, especially when of the people involved has been retired for several years and is now working with the organization of a race to which your team has been invited.