McQuaid: “I don’t know exactly where we are”

Monday, 28 November 2011

I don’t know exactly where we are with cases but having said that there was a discussion that did take place in this building about a number of athletes that are being studied because of their parameter data by the experts because we think that there should be cases opened against them. We have to wait for the process to happen and I can’t tell when or if that will happen, the decision hasn’t been made yet. I can’t say if it’s one, two or three athletes. It’s all at a late process but I don’t know exactly where. It could be weeks or days.

That’s UCI President Pat McQuaid speaking to cyclingnews.com. What is going on?

We have the President who does not know “where we are with cases” but confident enough to brief the media that “cases should be opened“, to say he believes some riders have been doping. Then we hear that we have to “wait for the process to happen” and he doesn’t know if this will go ahead.

In other words there’s a possibility of bringing cases based on suspicious bio-passport data but nothing is certain. This is big news because sadly doping stories can bury the sport under more bad headlines. Now it’s good the UCI is nailing the cheats but what if this comes to nothing and the full process discovers there’s not enough to prosecute on?

It could well be that the UCI has a water-tight case against riders but surely the sport’s top official should wait until there is official news before commenting? These matters are very serious risk is that now people begin to speculate. Which rider was “ill” and stopped racing for a while? Which team is having troubles with its licence for 2012? Does it mean those “no doping detected” press releases were now wrong? Which riders are forced to deny investigations? All this uncertainty just makes for trouble.

It could be that the news was about to leak so McQuaid decided to get the message out himself ahead of any damaging leaks. But “spiking” a leak normally means you put out the facts so that the leak is neutralised. You could do this by suddenly releasing all the info and suspending the rider(s) in question or calm things by saying something like “we are constantly reviewing the data and running examples by our experts. Any anomalies will be dealt with under due process“.

Indeed this is not the first time the UCI gives a running commentary. A few months ago McQuaid told cyclingnews.com that “there could be discussions going on for six, seven, eight, nine or ten people all at once at on an ongoing basis” and mentioned the practice of micro-dosing.

Summary
The sport is in a fragile state and the UCI President isn’t helping today. When something as serious as doping is involved, news has to be via official channels only. The bio-passport is a very useful tool and if we’re close to catching more riders, great. But speculating aloud in the media doesn’t help anyone, worse McQuaid himself doesn’t seem to know where the matter is at yet feels the need to talk about it. The only certainty today is confusion from the UCI.

Anon November 28, 2011 at 11:36 am

Could these be thinly veiled threats against person or persons unknown? Especially with talk of a breakaway league in the air. Is Pat trying to get word out that teams need to fall in line or find themselves battling newly opened bio passport cases?

Dennis November 28, 2011 at 11:42 am

We don’t know from the article if McQuaid was asked a question, or if it was a topic that he chose himself. If they asked him he can’t really say that he doesn’t know, especially if they are about to make a decision.

As for speculations, I’m not sure this will add anything new. It’s more likely that the people who have already concluded who the dopers are will use this as just another datapoint. As in “X is fishy, I’m sure he’s one of them.”

Davido November 28, 2011 at 11:43 am

Pat McQuaid has repeatedly shown himself to be an idiot. Can’t we do better than this?

CD November 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Silence is golden. A president has a job and this gossip is not part of his job.

Erik B. November 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm

@Dennis, McQuaid could have said “No comment”, but instead he put some oil on the fire….

Rab Austen November 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

@Dennis even if asked a question directly, surely it should be furnished with an appropriate answer i.e. “I am not at liberty to discuss…” etc.. However his worse than idiotic response just fuels rumour and as inrng points out the rumour can be wrongly attached to current or past events. Yes many rumours already exist but the sports governing body should not be fuelling the rumour mill.

McQuaid’s (UCI’s???) blasé attitude to due process leave me cold.

Dennis November 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Erik B: He could have said that, but would it have been a good answer? A “no comment” implies that the person has something to hide, and apparently this time it’s OK to keep it hidden.

It seem to be a case where we want transparency (compare this with the Contador’s positive test), but not too much transparency. I don’t think McQuaid went over the line this time.

Dennis November 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Rab Austen: I actually fail to see how his response fuel the rumour mill. His answer didn’t point in any particular direction. The passport panel meets a couple of times every year, so it’s not a huge surprise that something could come up.

SlapshotJC November 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Pat still seems to have this major case of Foot IN Mouth disease, he just can’t help himself. The sport will not change until there is a major change at the top echelon of the sport, McQuaid has to go.

Neal November 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm

@Dennis
If asked a question about bio passports/upcoming cases, he should have just said ‘we’re always monitoring this issue and if we find anything that needs action, we’ll go through due process’. Instead what he’s said looks like either: he doesn’t really know what’s going on, or that they’re looking to nail someone soon. Either way, he shouldn’t have said it. He reminds of a proverb I heard once: some people have something to say, other people have to say something. Pat is appearing to be the latter.

Larry T. November 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm

His nickname is not “Hot Air” for nothing folks! It’s truly sad this man can not act more like a humble bureaucrat instead of an obnoxious king or prince, but until someone wants to replace him, what can ya do? The guy he replaced wasn’t much different and is there anyone in the line to succeed him that would “engage brain before shifting mouth into gear?” What’s that rule about being promoted to the point your incompetence is maxed out? Here’s PAT!

Skippy November 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm

The OAF of Aigle has opened his mouth and spewed another amount of ” Hot Air “! Sponsors must be lining up to join the alternative Cycle Circus and will sign the dotted line only if they are sure that UCIless is not involved !
Are there any former Cycle Stars with a CLEAN reputation that can take on the task of heading up a Breakaway Event ? Knowing how to counter the ” Doping Movement ” will be a necessary first action by the Breakaway Circus .

Jim November 28, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Having just read McQuaid’s comments elsewhere I clicked over here and found my feelings confirmed. This is not the appropriately presented news from a professionally run, anti-doping agency. Rather it is the posturing of a politician meant to show favorably his administration and instead casting doubt onto the sport that they govern and generating concern for the processes by which they regulate that sport.

TotheBillyoh November 29, 2011 at 2:34 am

Sport Administration seems to all too often attract blovated egomaniacs. (I’m looking at you Sepp Blatter, and you too Juan Samaranch and goddamnit, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, while I am at it.) And the golden palaces they build; first class travel; luxury hotels cocoon them in a world where they become victim to their own self-importance. The sport is burning to the ground and Pat is throwing accelerant on the byre. Why?

The poor rube sitting in his Lazy-boy with his TV remote in his hand, upon all sport these days seemingly depends, will not watch drug cheats*, as my non-cycling friends constantly remind me. Pat is just feeding this prejudice.

Perhaps Pat has a cunning plan to televise, for six hours a day over a three week period, a “UCI Presents France (or Italy or Spain) From A Helicopter”, sans any pesky velos?

* My beloved sport of baseball excepted. Tens of millions appear happy to watch egregious cheats prosper at the Major League level.

JoeP November 29, 2011 at 2:46 am

Maybe Pat McQuaid is testing a new unofficial media relations strategy whereby the UCI tries to soften the blow of the news of (+) results (to be released in the not too distant future) by mentioning now that there are cases that are in various stages of conclusion that will probably result in penalties, minus any details? Then, when the actual names and offenses are released, it’s not such a shock to the outside world (that there were more doping violations in cycling)? I’m not saying it’s effective or how I would handle it, but it isn’t necessarily evidence of nefarious intent or incompetence.

McQuaid’s role in relation to the biopassport committee is a source of some of the confusion b/c it’s not clear to the public what he is in a position to know, maybe? Is the president of the UCI involved in determining which suspected biopassport doping cases are declared violations? Or is he just being maintained aware of the fact that there are x-number of potential violations and he’s trying to get out ahead of the scandal by letting the media/public know now that they’re working on some cases?

It was written in the post, “These matters are very serious risk is that now people begin to speculate. Which rider was “ill” and stopped racing for a while? Which team is having troubles with its licence for 2012? Does it mean those “no doping detected” press releases were now wrong? Which riders are forced to deny investigations? All this uncertainty just makes for trouble.”

The UCI isn’t pointing any finger in any direction and it would seem that the problem could actually be in the way in which the public, the media, the bloggers and pundits react? Anyone who starts speculating and suggesting which riders or teams they think might be involved in this is actually engaged in the offensive, troublesome act – scandalmongering.

The Inner Ring November 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

Good points Joe. I’m not going to speculate on riders and teams involved but it might happen, people try to “join the dots”. It’s a bit like shouting “fire” in a crowded building, some start running.

The reaction in the French media seems to be that the UCI is trying to get some positive anti-doping news after the Contador CAS hearing and a summer when the bio passport took a knock after the “suspicion index” leaked and the UCI stopped third party anti-doping controls at the Tour of California.

Pat McQuaid has a visible job and much of what he says gets examined closely. But all the more reason to send him on a media handling course or put a lawyer/PR handler in the room with him.

Larry T. November 29, 2011 at 10:36 am

I’m not with those who say “down with the UCI” or advocate a new pro cycling league. I simply think the UCI needs some new direction and organization…”new blood” though not of the transfused kind! They have a tough job fighting with those who want bike racing to be simply business rather than sport and those who don’t believe the athlete should come first rather than the machine he/she uses. Some retiring ex-pros should step up and “give back” to their sport by taking on these old-farts and their corruption.

Big Mikey November 29, 2011 at 7:13 pm

We’ve discussed this before, gentlemen. Sport governance at this level is completely corrupt, fraught with self-interest and protection, a good-old boy network, and utterly incorrigible. FIFA, UCI, IOC, Formula 1, Italian soccer, NBA, the list goes on and on. Replacing the crooks would bring in new crooks.

The surprising thing is, as noted above, is that McQuaid seems to take every chance to look like a buffoon. That guy never misses any opportunity to make the UCI look grossly incompetent. The real insult is how that group of idiots managed to corner world cycling governance.

Darren November 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I hear he is weighing up the possibility of running for post of Minister Of Understatement in the Kingdom Of Hyperbolia!!!

JoeP December 1, 2011 at 7:28 am

” Pat McQuaid has a visible job and much of what he says gets examined closely. But all the more reason to send him on a media handling course or put a lawyer/PR handler in the room with him.” –INRNG

I agree 100%, to the degree that it’s practical for the organization and Pat McQuaid personally. However it’s realized, nothing bad could come from improving the way in which UCI communicates at organizational level w/ stakeholders, media and public. And to achieve that improvement, the individuals who make-up the whole must be effective communicators themselves. Ergo, media training or PR handling – remedial or advanced – shouldn’t be something objectionable to those in the public’s eye at the UCI, right?

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