Before I interviewed Trent Lowe in early 2011 I only knew him by reputation. Upbeat, positive, talented, and an all-round good bloke. The interview was at the time when both he and Matt White were fired from Slipstream. I had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right and his side of the story wasn’t being heard.
When I think back it was near the beginning cycling’s most recent landslides. I was reading cyclingnews on Feb 9, 2011, I came across a strange reference in Daniel Friebe’s opinion piece “Riccò the perfect pariah”
…Well, you don’t have to look hard for worrying signs in cycling at the moment. Just open your eyes and ears. Whether it’s Oscar Pereiro insisting he “never had a problem with doping”, or Astana boss Giuseppe Martinelli saying he thinks Alberto Contador is innocent because he was “very careful about that kind of thing” (what exactly? Not taking clenbuterol?), or several others you care to mention referring to riders having “made mistakes” as opposed to flat out doped or cheated, familiar alarm bells are beginning to go tring-a-ling. Add to that a Floyd Landis, a Trent Lowe, a Luis del Moral and now a Riccardo Riccò and you have the recipe for a broth last on the menu in 2006 and before that in 1998.
There were other allegations made against Lowe such as him (or his advisor) trying to blackmail his former team for €500,000. Whatever happened in this mess, Trent has told us his side of the story, and Jonathan Vaughters has told his.
Last weekend cyclingnews issued a public apology to Trent Lowe and have since made changes to the article above by removing the last sentence.
Cyclingnews.com would like to apologise to Trent Lowe for various inaccurate statements that were published about him on our news site.
Cyclingnews.com acknowledges that Trent Lowe has in no way been involved in the doping scandals surrounding Floyd Landis and Ricardo Ricco and apologises for inferring in an article in February 2011 that he was involved in doping or cheating.
Cyclingnews.com also acknowledges that it was wrong to suggest in an article in January 2011 that Mr Lowe was fired from the Garmin Cycling Team due to doping involvement with Dr Del Moral, or that he intended to blackmail Garmin.
Cyclingnews.com acknowledges that Garmin has since confirmed Mr Lowe’s innocence regarding doping; and that Mr. Lowe was in fact fired for allegedly attending another team’s training camp.
Cyclingnews.com understands that Mr Lowe consulted Dr Moral after being referred for a health check, by the former directeur sportif of Team Garmin, to Dr Moral’s clinic in Valencia where Mr Lowe was living at the time. It was determined Mr Lowe was suffering from chronic fatigue at the time.
Cyclingnews.com apologises unreservedly to Mr Lowe for any damage that may have been done to his reputation.
Trent Lowe is now settled into life back home in Melbourne and is doing well for himself. A couple days ago I spoke to Trent about the apology, his take on the recent fall-outs at his ex-team, and his views on the current state of cycling for young professionals.
[CyclingTips] How does it feel to get an apology from cyclingnews on their article which put you beside guys like Floyd Landis and Riccardo Riccò?
[Trent Lowe] The information published was incorrect and damaging to my reputation, so it feels good to finally set the record straight. There are friends and family that were very disappointed to read such allegations so it was important to me to have this rectified and put it behind me.
[CT] Are you satisfied with their apology?
[TL] Yes I am. It has taken some time but it certainly feels vindicating to finally clear my name.
[CT] People might assume that you threatened to sue cyclingnews for that article for the money. Was this a money thing for you?
[TL] No not at all, it was about having the record straight. There were very serious allegations made about me, that I was a criminal, and involved with certain doping rings. That I was a cheat. Obviously I take exception to these things as I am neither, and nor is their any evidence to suggest so. I find it especially disappointing to be considered a doper considering my experiences in cycling. Essentially I feel I became quite unwell (health wise) because I was given racing and training schedules from people who have now admitted to their own doping practices. When I chose to work with such people, this was not known to me. Therefore their advice is almost entirely based on their own experiences, that of a doped athlete. I am convinced that to complete the workload I was given on an ongoing basis, one would have to dope in order to recover. I was not doping and therefore my health suffered a lot from such over training. Sadly I believe this scenario may still be ongoing in professional cycling, and I feel it still has a very long way to go. It was a mistake to put my trust in some of the people I did for my training and racing schedule. In fact, one of the team physiologists described my condition as the result of “chronic over-training.”
[CT] What tangible damaged was done to your reputation by inaccurate media reports while you were going through being fired, trying to get your pay, and explaining your situation to the world?
[TL] There have been people that I had known for as many as 8-10 years, people who I felt I had good professional relationships with, that have simply chosen to ignore my existence, at certain times I attempted to contact these people for various info, yet my inquiry was ignored. It was disappointing, although I suppose you learn who the genuine people are in your life. There have been people that I had not spoken with for a little while until after some of these media stories, and they had no interest in any further communication or relationship with me afterwards. Seemingly because of the things written about me in the media. There were some ex-teamates that behaved abusively or treated me with contempt. As crazy as this sounds it is true.
[CT] With everything that’s come out lately with many Garmin riders and leading all the way up to Lance, how do you feel about all of this? Some of the people in the middle of this were your former teammates, and your career was ruined and they’re almost racing again.
Yeah I think it is a load of BS that some of these riders are allowed to race again at all, let alone after only a 6 month suspension in the off season. I suppose the part that is disappointing to me in all this was that I lost my career after spending so many years training and preparing to be able to compete at that level. Legitimately. I began racing when I was only about 13 and all this experience and training becomes your livelihood. I feel I had developed very good skills in my trade, especially considering now that we know some of my competitors had a 10-15% advantage due to prohibited methods. Many of these riders are still racing or in a management position. The effects of doping are very far reaching, and these riders that have come out and admitted to doping don’t seem to appreciate how great an effect their own personal selfish reasons to dope have had on other people. I feel there are many competitive cyclists who may have well been professional if some of the riders who were doping, didn’t.
[CT] In the past few months has information been revealed that has surprised you contrary to what you believed when you were racing?
I certainly was naive when I first got to Europe as a 21 year old. My first year racing was in 2006. There are instances when there have been team mates of mine that I felt I had become decent friends with, and they have shown their disdain for dopers, yet I have learned in the past 12 months that they were doping themselves. It is a sad state of affairs really, no body knows who they can trust in all of this, as fans, journalists, sponsors etc have lost so much faith in the sport because of the actions of the selfish riders.
[CT] You’ve spoken about how hard a professional training and racing program these days is hard to keep while still maintaining your health. Do you think teams are getting better at managing and nurturing their young riders?
As I said earlier I feel the sport has a very long way to go. We are still in a time where riders who have served doping suspensions are welcomed back with open arms from teams. Essentially the sport is still in a situation where riders are being rewarded with race wins and large contracts, for doing the wrong thing. Now we can only hope they are riding clean after their bans, however because they have deceived us in the past, why are we going to trust them again? I have experienced this first hand with the riders I have known and trusted personally for some years. Furthermore, enough of these riders become sport directors with no or little apparent moral objection to cheating, and can end up in charge of hiring the riders and the circle goes around again.
In my opinion, the workload is still to great, and riders may almost feel forced into a position where they have to dope or risk loosing their contracts. The races are too long, too hard, too frequent and the seasons are too arduous on the whole. This is not to say that it cannot be done without doping, as I did so for some years, but I seem to have paid a big price on my health for some time to follow. Unfortunately, the globalization of the sport has created this scenario of long seasons and workloads on the riders. Teams want value and results.
[CT] What are you up to now?
I am almost about halfway through my carpentry apprenticeship. The small company I work for, works almost solely for architects doing renovations and extensions on some of Melbourne’s fine real estate. We see some fantastic houses.
I am doing some mtb races and generally enjoying the outdoors in my spare time, fly fishing and hiking in the back country. I had a fantastic trip to Tasmania over Christmas. It really is an amazing place and no surprise that so much of it is World Heritage listed area.
[CT] Coming out the other side of all of this, do you have any regrets? Anything you could have done differently?
I certainly regret trusting some of the authority figures in the sport. I feel it was a very costly mistake. I regret not putting more faith in my own judgement and gut feelings at various stages whilst I was racing.