UCI President Mistaken Over USADA Case

I’ve read what they’ve said but as they’re not licence holders so I don’t know how they can ban them or what they can be banned for

From the UCI’s point of view we can’t see how these guys can be sanctioned for life,” said McQuaid. “They are not UCI licence holders, so under what grounds can they be sanctioned?

Those are the words of the Pat McQuaid, president of cycling’s governing body, the UCI. The first quote is after speaking to cyclingnews.com, the second is after speaking to Velonews. He was commenting today on the lifetime ban issued by the US Anti-Doping Agency to Luis Garcia del Moral, Michele Ferrari and Jose “Pepe” Martí, all three staff or helpers of the US Postal Cycling team.

Only President McQuaid needs to check the UCI rulebook . The anti-doping code applies to all licence holders, that is obvious. But Article 18 says it applies to all team staff as well, even if they have no team licence. So there are good grounds for the UCI to apply USADA’s ban worldwide.

Here is the relevant rule (my emphasis)

18. 1. a) Any Person who, without being a holder of a license, participates in a cycling Event in any capacity whatsoever, including, without limitation, as a rider, coach, trainer, manager, team director, team staff, agent, official, medical or para-medical personnel or parent and;
b) Any Person who, without being a holder of a license, participates, in the framework of a club, trade team, national federation or any other structure participating in Races, in the preparation or support of riders for sports competitions; shall be subject to these Anti-Doping Rules and these Anti-Doping Rules shall apply to each such Person as they apply to a License-Holder.

In short it is stated that the UCI has clear jurisdiction over non-licence holders and the rule even specifies medical staff. Given the demonstrable roles of the trio as team staff and their wrongdoing I don’t understand why the President thinks he can’t do anything. If USADA has imposed a lifetime ban on these three for their cycling-related anti-doping violations then the UCI should be studying USADA’s ruling with urgent attention with a view to applying the ban worldwide.

For for sure this is a complicated topic with many nationalities, jurisdictions, rules and codes. But Article 18 is clear, even if the US Postal trio don’t hold a licence, they can still be banned. And see the recent case with Jan Ullrich who was banned despite having dropped his racing licence some time ago.

It all seems rather odd. You’d expect the UCI to be horrified to learn that there was a systematic doping programme in a top-level cycling team. You’d expect it to be working hard so those who have accepted their role in this corruption are distanced from cycling. Yet President McQuaid appears not to know his own rulebook and rather disinterested, saying it’s merely for the Americans.

Note this is not UCI-bashing. We all make mistakes but when a president of a sports governing body appears not to know the rules it does not look too pro. A strong UCI is one where the staff are fluent in the rules. The USADA case is highly significant and more than ever the president needs be well-briefed on this matter rather than blundering.

The main thing is that actions speak louder than words and the UCI quickly reviews the USADA verdict and works to ensure the trio are banned from going near any cyclist on the planet.

UPDATE (Thursday): the World Anti-Doping Agency issued a polite reminder – albeit in public – to the UCI last night that it should act on the USADA verdict. Namely it can either enforce the ruling or it can appeal it. But it should not pretend to ignore it. Full text here.

68 thoughts on “UCI President Mistaken Over USADA Case”

  1. I agree with the point that the UCI’s position should be expressing more support here for rooting out systematic doping. But the question remains: what can the UCI actually do to prohibit those banned from working with riders? They cannot suspend licenses of the unlicensed. There’s suspending riders who are associated with the banned docs, as CONI seems to have tried with Ferrari — let’s see how that works with the current Pozzato case. Is there a precedent with this in cycling, other than Ferrari? I believe there is with a x-c skiing coach.
    Detection seems hard, and of course Ferrari could set-up front men for his services and lurk behind the scenes.

    • They can extend USADA’s ban worldwide. Normally when someone is judged by a national federation the ban is extended worldwide. For example when French track rider Baugé was banned by the French the UCI made this worldwide; it is a formality. For staff all federations have a list of banned staff the names of these three get added to it.

      • i think what Alan is saying is – what can a governing body do if a non-license holder defies their ban, or if a license-holder engages a banned non-license holder (as pozzato is accused of)?

        the clause you quoted above doesn’t clarify that. anti-doping bodies in sport are not statutory authorities – they can’t punish anyone beyond the terms of agreement between individuals and the sporting body. if there is no such agreement, there’s no punishment. there appears little they can do against a guy like Ferrari, other than refuse to license him.

        but can they punish license holders for associating with banned non-license holders? that appears to be what they are pursuing against Pozzato. the authority to do that isn’t clear from the clause quoted in this blog though.

  2. Am I missing something? The USDA ban of the three doctors/staff members doesn’t equate to a judgement of guilt by a truly independent adjudicating body after the accused contested the matter according to due process. They were accused of transgressions (could have been mass murder, jaywalking, kicking their dog) by an extra-legal agency. They chose to ignore/deny the accusations and wouldn’t subject themselves to what appears to this non-lawyer as a fairly tilted adjudicating body (who pays the “independent arbitrators”? I truly don’t know but have a sneaking suspicion). Why incur the cost in time/money of a defense if the outcome is pre-ordained.

    I would like to see the evidence and hear the anonymous witnesses/accusers testify before I accept USDA ban as punishment for true guilt.

      • Being asked doesn’t change the fact that the process seems tilted against them. If the IRS asks me to be audited I don’t feel any better about the process. Based on the press I have read it doesn’t appear they “accept” the ban. I just want to see the evidence and hear the witnesses/accusers. Parties to this process and cycling fans alike (which is me) would benefit from a full and open hearing.

        • Have you ever gotten a traffic ticket? Did you pay the fine or contest it in court?

          I had one, for speeding. Nailed fair and square, doing 60 in a 40 zone (km, it was a downhill beneath an overpass and simply was negligent). I paid the ticket. It is called tacit admission of guilt.

          Do a search online on case resolutions with a “no contest” plea. It is the same. But yes, we would benefit from an open hearing – that is the prerogative of the defendants, and they can request such to be open or closed.

          It seems Celaya didn’t go quietly and has requested a hearing. We’ll see how this goes.

        • TDog has a point. I was a bit surprised at the speed at which the ban was produced. Are the evidences and testimonies anywhere to be read? Without that, what are we talking about?

      • Is it likely that an organisation like the UCI doesn’t want to be dictated too, especially by an American organisation? Or that they don’t value the judgement because of the USADA process?

    • I’ve seen this sort of argument a few times. It makes no sense to me. They were subjected to the correct process within the organisation. It’s not a legal process, they’re not going to be arrested or put in jail. They’re kicked out of the club. It’s about the internal rules of the sports federations. I could start a club of INRNG comment writers, you could join, and then I could ban you for life because when I started the club I made a rule that I can kick out anyone I want. That’s totally fair.
      Of course, this club is a bit bigger than that, so they actually have a reasonable legal-like process, which includes a big rulebook and possibilities for appeal.
      People who don’t like it can start their own international cycling federation. They did that in boxing and chess, for example.

    • Just a fan who wants to see and hear the evidence. No dog in the fight. Tired of all the he is a doper/he isn’t a doper/I never tested positive. But if you want to send me free stuff, super. A new Di2 gruppo would be sweet.

      Does Lance A stand for A Sample?

  3. How is McQuaid still in charge at the UCI??? The entire thing stinks to the core. He’s a disgrace and hurts cycling more than helps it. The sooner McQuaid, Ver Bruggen and their cronies step away from the sport the better.

    Great post. Reaction from the UCI has been disappointing to say the least.

    • 100% agree Scott. The man is a incredibly conflicted and basically got the job through bullying and intimidation. He is not a smart man, he is not an honest man; he is a man who thinks he is bigger than the sport. It would be a silver lining if the whole Armstrong affair ends with McQuaid and his cronies having to fall on their sword over the alleged hidden drug test.

  4. There are a lot of rules but all along the UCI should have know that these three don’t have a licence and evaluated the possible outcomes from USADA so they’re ready when the verdicts are reached. Now they look like they’ve been caught out.

    • Sure. It could just be a slip up by the President whilst the UCI’s anti-doping staff are reviewing the USADA case.

      This is a complex subject with jurisdictions, agencies, codes and law. So there’s no iron certainty that the USADA ban is extended worldwide. But the UCI should be checking because, unlike what McQuaid said, its anti-doping rules do apply to non-licence holders.

  5. Thanks again for an insightful post. The most worrying thing for me here is the apparent lack of outrage amongst the cycling community that the UCI are (seemingly) so disinterested in what might amount to the uncovering of the biggest doping scandal in cycling ever.

    • “You’d expect the UCI to be horrified to learn that there was a systematic doping programme in a top-level cycling team.”

      That Lance Armstrong gave a personal donation to the UCI of $100,000 US Dollars (never been done before or since) and his positive drug tests just went away (during Tour de Suisse +, was it? – can’t remember years) sent up a huge red flag. Major conflict of interest to give $ to the same organization that supposedly “polices” the sport. I believe that McQuaid accepted LA’s money for his personal benefit for future goals, e.g. the Global Cycling Promotion (GCP) arm of the UCI.

      I think McQuaid cow-towed to Armstrong and his powerful entourage of cronies and I think he knew that doping was going on at US Postal. To what degree, I don’t know.

  6. Agree with Scott, sooner the cronies and ‘blazer boys’ step aside at the UCI, the better for cycling, UCI have been complicit, or at the least, turned a convenient other way, when they could have faced up to use of drugs in cycling.
    Omata is lead from the top, the top was VerBruggen, and now it is McQuaid, I would not trust either person with my telephone number.
    Think of the opportunity of the situation, to make the outing and eradication of banned substance abuse the number one issue at the UCI, and align themselves very clearly in the right direction by welcoming and embracing the USDA ban.
    Cannot beleive the teams put up with the UCI, rotten to the core is an understatement.

    • Andy, agree. I feel like it’s not just the teams fault though. Maybe it’s time for cycling fans to activists for a cleaner sport? Could we collectively achieve some change? Would the UCI take more note if 100,000 cycling fans signed a petition of ‘no confidence’ against McQuaid for instance? Or if there was an organised boycott of TV coverage of a Tour de France stage? Perhaps these aren’t great examples, but surely more could be done to make the cycling fan less impotent?

  7. If individual riders want to work with these guys behind the scenes, there is nothing UCI, USADA or even their teams can really do to stop it. Of course any upstanding team would probably immediately fire a rider who was knowingly working with any of these guys, and UCI should take the stance that it would sanction any team that condoned it, but the reality is that USADA’s action really has no teeth against these guys, which is probably why they ignored it.

    • In fact this is exactly what happened at Garmin when Trent Lowe went to see Del Moral (in Valencia, apparently for a VO2 test) in contravention of their medical referrals rule. And DS Matt White lost his job over it too, for sending him there. And I guarantee you that Vaughters (and surely White as well) knew all about what Del Moral had been up to working with Postal.

  8. Is is possible that the Irishman was being coy perhaps? I don’t see it clearly stated above so I’m wondering – can USADA unilaterally ban three non-licensed support staff, or do they recommend to the UCI that they be banned, after which it then becomes the purview of the UCI to decide what measures they deem to be suitable for each case? Or does USADA recommend to WADA, or to national agencies (i.e. CONI) what measure should be taken. The process seems convoluted but I would be shocked if a US based agency has the power to impose a worldwide ban. What independent nation would agree to that, especially in a system where judge, jury and executioner are one in the same and no valid system of representation is apparent?

    • Yes, USADA can impose the ban. A national agency is able to issue the sanction and it is for the UCI to uphold the ban. As the international governing body it would relay the message of USADA’s ban.

  9. Without pinning down McQuaid for his consistent foot in mouth disease, there is a physical ban and a philosophical ban. It is easy for the UCI and WADA to extend the philosophical ban. But, since there are no licenses to be revoked or fines to collect, it is the physical ban that needs to be explored. It seems to me all one can really do is sanction license holders (riders/teams) for using the services of banned doctors. In some cases this has already been done. However this is punishment for their patients, and not for those that were actually banned.

  10. Didn’t CONI already ban Ferrari? And the UCI took no notice of it? So why are we to think the UCI will do anything differently if the USADA bans him?

    • Possibly because Ferrari’s ban came before the WADA code came into force and the UCI signed up to it. As Pozatto is trying to explain/exploit, Ferrari might have received a ban but some of the paperwork was either missing or impossible to find.

  11. That’s how I see it as well; punishment or severe consequences for the “patient”.
    CONI seems to have a grip on how to proceed with a rider/riders that endeavored
    to seek advice, or pay for consultation, training with the likes of these 3 people.
    And yes…………finally someone mentions a key part of the UCI’s rotten core;
    Hein VerBruggen. McQuaid has always seemed to be his puppet.

  12. I think Señor Inner Ring is being charitable by calling McQuaid “mistaken”. The first word that came into my mind was “Malicious”.

    Or maybe this was a “mistake” similar to taking Lance Armstrong’s donation, as Pat declared afterward?

  13. I dont know the ins and outs of the all the rules, but based on the rule included, it appears that UCI can issue the ban, but nothing specifies that USADA, WADA or any other country specific anti-doping agency does. McQuaid’s response should have been out of the press and an inquiry directly to USADA to allow UCI to review the evidence before they implment a ban. I can certainly understand them not just accepting a verdict without seeing the evidence behind it. That being said, UCI should really be more supportive of the process than they are of the individuals.

  14. The McQuaid interview on Sporza was interesting too: http://t.co/smCZ3HJP via @TourDeJose
    He seems to push any blame for LA not failing tests onto the WADA, neatly ignoring the reported UCI coverup. It also ends with him saying the because of the Olympics he’ll be too busy to goto the Sky… [oops] Winners party.

  15. UCI and McQuaid are rotten to the core.

    I agree, Inrng is being too charitable here. This isn’t a one-off thing. You are talking about a guy who’s first reaction to the closing of the Novitzky case was “oh, thank god that is over, we can move on.” Compare that to the USADA, which said “hold on, some of the testimony before the Grand Jury could be relevant to us”.

    This is the same guy who initially denied that the UCI took money from Armstrong (although it was his predecessor, not him) and then, when confronted, said “yeah, in hindsight, it may have been a bad idea”. MAY HAVE BEEN A BAD IDEA? Are you f**king kidding me? A 14 year old can tell you that is a conflict of interest.

    I don’t quite know what the deal is – I don’t really buy the fact that Armstrong has the UCI in his pocket. But there is something that is not kosher about the UCI’s unwillingness to really be objective when it comes to Armstrong. I am guessing it has to do with the sheer uproar that it is going to cause if he is found to be a doper, and they are trying to protect themselves/cycling. They are essentially bureaucrats playing a game of CYA.

    McQuaid is one of the biggest sources of rot in pro cycling. It amazes me that this clown is still running the UCI. This sort of bush league BS has typically been the province of Ecclestone and (now departed) Max Mosley – cycling is too big and global for this.

  16. McQuaid seems to be either incredibly ignorant of the rules, or feigning ignorance to disguise corruption. Either way, he does neither the UCI or cycling any favours at all.

    So what would it take to get Greg Lemond voted UCI president?

  17. Exactly! You say this isn’t UCI bashing, but it should be. Would anyone buy a used car from McQuaid? I doubt it. He’s part of the same corrupt past as those sanctioned. When Landis mentioned that the UCI accepted a bribe from Armstrong, I thought Landis had gone off the deep end. Then, I find out that the UCI did take money from Armstrong when he was a rider, but they called it a donation. What governing agency takes a boatload of cash from a person that they may have to discipline? They know that is a conflict of interest; it’s just obvious.

  18. Personally can’t stand McQuaid and I think he just doesn’t know his own regulations, however I just went over Article 18 and there are a few elements that stand out. First is the USADA’s jurisdiction over these 3 as they are making rulings on non-nationals. Second, per Article 18 National Federations have no jurisdiction over Doping Control and Non-license holders have a right to hearing by the UCI before any National Federation or UCI ban would be enacted. So, McQuaid is partially right in that the ban is meaningless until they have had a hearing by the UCI or have waived a right to a hearing by the UCI.

    There is also the issue that 2 of the 3 are retired and contesting this ruling would impose a financial burden that would not likely be in their benefit to undertake. It is kind of like the current run of copyright infringement cases, where lawyers mail people a request for a settlement that is less than what it would cost for them to contest it. You have to weigh what it would cost you to go to arbitration (in another country) vs. receiving a judgement that may or may not effect you financially. This is why these bans are largely meaningless.

    It kind of pains me to say I have suspected Lance doped for a long time and just had better tech to mask it. However, I do agree with his assessment that this is a vendetta against him, if the leaked allegations of testimony in return for time off their sentence is true. If their evidence was so strong they should have contacted LA’s council and arranged a meeting, where either a deal or arbitration could be arranged. It would have been done behind closed doors and they could have made their media announcement after everything was signed. Instead the USADA is playing a media circus game and either leaking information or fabricated rumors. People have made a big deal about LA’s council throwing everything at getting this dismissed, but that is what good lawyers do, because it save their client’s a lot of money.

    • Be careful not to confuse “National Federation” eg US Cycling with “Anti-doping organisation” (USADA). See the link I’ve added to the foot of the piece above where WADA makes it clear the UCI needs to act.

  19. Here’s what I want to know, where is the news on Di Gregorio? Where is Pat’s response to the hotel raid? Did the UCI know about it? Who got him the drugs? All I see on twitter and cyclingnews is Lance Armstrong’s USADA case and Brad Wiggins yelling at reporters talking about doping. As I’ve said from day one, charging Lance was all about people’s misplaced emotions and media attention. Every time someone says that Lance is being charged for something way in the past, people say “No, its relevant, it affects the sport now” etc. I would say Di Gregorio is pretty right here and now. For everyone who says they want a clean sport and no doping, people are way too interested in making fun of Lance on twitter, letting all their followers know they think he’s an asshole and a bad guy, and reveling in the fact that he’s getting his instead of talking about what is actually going on in the sport.

    *Disclaimer: I’m not a Lance fan. I do not own a Livestrong Bracelet nor a Trek bicycle. I refuse to use the US Postal Service or watch the Discovery Channel. Okay, those last two were lies.*

    • The UCI didn’t know about the hotel raid. The French police had been conducting surveillance on Vinokourov and the Astana team for a long time but did not find anything except a wire on Di Gregorio’s phone revealed he was in contact with a 75 year old man who could be selling banned substances. A third man was intercepted on his way to the Cofidis team hotel on Tuesday and Di Gregorio was arrested. The rider will appear in front of a judge today. It has nothing to do with the Cofidis team.

  20. Sick and tired, and saddened, by all this news about doping–LA, the banished trio, the former team-mates that cut a deal. The media, and especially the fans of cycling, have a real hard-on for this sort of shock journalism (judging by the volume of comments for this blog, it’s one of the most popular ones on inrng). Shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations for going after riders once they’ve retired?

    • Other pieces get more comments, and half of the comments above are from me giving updates/explainers.

      As for a statute of limitations, perhaps. But if this trio were involved in organised doping then do we want them in the sport? I’d prefer to see them banned.

  21. There would certainly have to be at least a time limit for these back-dated enforcement actions. Otherwise we might end up banning dead people.

  22. From the WADA code

    [Comment ‘b’ to Article 2: The Code does not make it an anti-doping rule violation for an Athlete or other Person to work or associate with Athlete Support Personnel who are serving a period of Ineligibility. However, a sport organization may adopt its own rules which prohibit such conduct.]

    So have to temper the demands for global bans to the rules of the various sports organisations being asked to implement it.

  23. Even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day. And for once I’m inclined to believe that fat Pat is right.

    Article 18 is horseshit. I read it. It has no legal force.

    The USADA cannot tell a European doctor what to do, and the UCI rulebook cannot assert jurisdiction randomly over anyone it pleases.

    There’s no law here. It would be trivial for a competent lawyer to get this stuff tossed as an illegal restraint of trade. Personally, if I were these doctors, I would just ignore it.

    • It might have no legal force but that is beside the point, McQuaid said he couldn’t act yet his rules say there is scope.

      To make it clear, I’m saying the UCI should be reviewing the issue and not saying “sorry, there’s nothing we can do”. WADA has said the same thing, see the link added to the end of the piece above.

      • It speaks of “competent bodies” in the relevant clause. There is no body competent to enforce a judgement on any of these individuals.

        So Pat is right. Article 18.(3) is unenforceable. There is nothing he can do.

    • Well, on one hand there is legal limbo the whole anti-doping international codes and regulations stand on. What are they? International treaties as defined by the Vienna Convention on Treaty Law? Nope. Have they been ratified by national parliaments? Nope. Are they supposed to be above national laws or other international instruments? Nope, they are in fact inferior at any rate. Can they be enforced by courts? Hardly.

      On the other hand, what the UCI can decide is who races and participates in the races under its authority. I guess the 3 doctors ban means what we have seen it to mean concerning Pozzatto: riders “associated” with them will not be allowed to race.

      • That’s the point: these are rules that exist to be upheld. Someone can challenge them in CAS or even the European Court of Human Rights. But until then when you sign up for a racing licence or to for a licence to work with a team you sign up to the small print that says you abide by the rules of the sport.

      • Well, that would be a different matter.

        Actually, that would also be an illegal restraint of trade. It would amount to the UCI creating cross-border trade & employment barriers within the EC and would be quite easy, albeit time-consuming, to challenge.

        The time & cost of mounting a challenge would be the mechanism by which it could succeed, because the legal foundation is quicksand.

        • Indeed, there’s a Belgian case against the WADA Whereabouts system trundling through the European courts. But not it’s not quite the quicksand as EU law has an exemption for sports.

          But we’re straying too far from the quotes yesterday. The UCI President wasn’t saying his rules don’t stand up to the law, he just appeared not to know the scope of his own rules.

    • inopinatus:

      USADA is not banning these doctors from practicing medicine outright, or continuing their careers elsewhere. All USADA has done is banned these professionals from plying their trade for and with individuals involved in athletic events which adhere to WADA standards (of which the UCI is a part of).

      If Ferrari wants to provide EPO to Joe Club rider, USADA us not preventing that (or course – there are other legal matters to deal with there). You conflate internal organizations rules with government/regulatory/constitutional rights issues. These are completely different matters. Terms of employment (as long as they do not violate certain constitutionally (in the US at least) protected rights, are pretty free to set whatever rules they want.

      Scott, a manufacturer of lawn care products, gave its employees 1 year to quit smoking or they were fired.

      • Yeah, I’m saying, USADA has no jurisdiction to do that. The closest any of these bodies can get is in the other direction i.e. banning athletes, who have agreed to WADA & UCI rules*, from associating with these individuals. And there the ground looks shaky to me, because that’s a restraint of trade, notwithstanding Inrng’s point that EU law has certain exemptions for sport.

        NB: European employment law is very different to Usonian, due to social democracy. Jobs have more protections. The Scott Lawn Services case (Rodrigues v. EG Systems, US District Court, Mass., C.A. 07-10104-GAO) would’ve been a straight-up unfair dismissal in the UK with all the odds stacked in the employee’s favour.

        * which are so shoddily written, and contain so many internal contradictions and so much that is open to wide reinterpretation, I can’t believe any court could accept them as binding anyway.

  24. Speaking of bans, extensions and jurisdiction… isn’t Pat banned from the Olympics ? How do they manage to square that with him being on the IOC ?

    It’s like saying you are too evil/stupid/criminal to vote but it’s OK for you to be elected to parliament.

    Ironic too, given his views on preventing dopers from working as team managers.

  25. The simple answer of course is that McQuaid knows all this and is covering because he’s trying to discredit the USADA effort, as an open hearing is going to point the finger directly at the UCI and their failure to prosecute clear cases of doping under their jurisdiction.

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