Can Pat McQuaid do no right? The UCI seems to walk headlong into media elephant traps, the organisation charged with overseeing our sport frequently embarrasses both itself and the sport in general. I for one lament the way it operates.
The latest goof is with the publicity-seeking Pierre Bordry (pictured), head of France’s national anti-doping organisation, the AFLD. Bordry is not averse to a bit of self-publicity and he’s trying to get the AFLD to conduct extra tests during Paris-Nice. Only the UCI is supposed to be doing the testing.
So what? Well the UCI has a poor record on doping controls. Former WADA boss Dick Pound famously said the UCI officials “should not be allowed outdoors without white canes and seeing-eye dogs” given that the UCI seemed blind to the widespread doping in pro cycling. The UCI seemed frozen by an inherent conflict of interest: caught between promoting the sport and busting the cheats. During the 1990s it certainly seemed the UCI couldn’t catch a cold, yet alone a doping rider.
Back to recent times and the AFLD has almost boasted that it caught the cheats in cycling whilst the UCI was asleep. If you like, imagine Bordry as a hunter who’s bagged the likes of Alexandr Vinokourov and Riccardo Ricco. Indeed you sense he’s the sort of guy who’d get them stuffed and mounted on the wall.
Which brings us to the fuss over Paris-Nice. Bordry wants a shot at two things. First, he can fire off press releases during Paris-Nice. Second, he might be able to land some big game, although I suspect the chances of that are rare even if he stuck a surveillance unit on Alejandro Valverde. But the thing is that the WADA rules mean the UCI is the accredited organisation to do the testing.
Why do I call it a UCI goof? Because the UCI could be briefing that Bordry’s strayed off his patch and that the Frenchman would do better to read the rulebook. Only the UCI can’t seem to get on top of its game and so it’s involved in a media brawl with Bordry, all of which looks undignified. None of this should be happening, the sport should be presenting a unified front against doping.