The UCI and Armstrong: History Rewritten or Repeated?

Today Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his seven wins in the Tour de France as the UCI announced it would accept the USADA decision in full.

The enormity of taking down Armstrong turns what was once the best story in sport into another shameful chapter of the doping encyclopaedia, although this much we knew from the USADA verdict.

But today also showed the UCI seems reluctant to change after a disastrous press conference which revealed immobility and confusion, right at the time when the sport is desperate for leadership and reform.

Rewriting History
We can now say Lance Armstrong doped his way to the Tour de France and his record is stripped bare. No longer must people bite their tongues, edit their copy, nor fear writs nor moderation: Armstrong is a doper. We knew this, now we can say it without fear. Armstrong will now face questions over potential perjury, risks jail and faces a stack of legal and a multi-million claim from SCA Promotions is heading his way. He could have more suits than Brooks Brothers.

You can say it out aloud now

The UCI has called a meeting of its executive board, the Management Committee, to discuss what other issues it must address, for example his Olympic medal and wider ideas to “safeguard the future of cycling”. In all the UCI has accepted the USADA report in its entirety so the opinion expressed by the UCI merely validates the reasoned decision.

History Repeating
Normally removing seven Tour de France wins would be the story of the day. It probably is for many newspapers and TV channels. But having watched the live press conference the most profound impression was that the UCI admits a deep crisis yet seems unwilling to change, preferring to repeat similar claims it made after Festina or Puerto.

Things began well as President McQuaid adopted a sincere tone and tried to position himself with sickened fans and damaged sponsors as he spoke repeatedly of the future of cycling. He announced a special management committee meeting hearing to review matters. But things soon drifted back the comfort zone as the UCI began its defence. Traditional phrases like “more testing than other federations” and statements about how the UCI could only work with the system in place at the time slowly began to slide from justification to excuse. As McQuaid acknowledged the UCI doesn’t have policing powers, we know it cannot get a search order to search a team bus. And it’s true, the UCI didn’t have many tools to catch the cheats.

The biggest crisis that cycling has ever faced
President Pat McQuaid

The UCI acknowledged the gravity of the occasion as the quote above shows. McQuaid pulled out a quote from JFK to say that the Chinese word for crisis (wei-chi) is spelled with two characters, one meaning danger and the other opportunity.

Only based on today’s performance we got denial and immobility and the crisis is with the characters inside the UCI’s offices. With repeated questions there was no show of leadership. McQuaid personally tried to distance himself from the problem saying “I became president in September 2005” but didn’t mention he was serving on the UCI Management Committee as… boss of road cycling, namely President of the UCI Road Commission from 1998 to 2005.

One minute the UCI said of the tests “that was as much as we could do“, the next it asked us to place faith in its testing regime to catch the cheats tomorrow. When asked whether anti-doping should be separated from the UCI, McQuaid replied “I don’t see why we should” which appears to shut down the idea rather acknowledge the problems and suggests the UCI is closed to new ideas. Don’t expect radical change on the agenda for Friday’s management committee meeting then.

Which brings us to Lance Armstrong’s samples from the 2001 Tour de Suisse. He did not test positive. Let’s say it again, he did not test positive. As a document released by the UCI today shows he did not test positive. But it is believed he presented suspect samples. The Lab director has said Armstrong presented suspicious high scores in EPO tests. In other words not enough to convict but enough to ring alarm bells and set red lights flashing. But did the UCI even increase its testing? It states that during the 2001 Tour de France Armstrong was only checked five times for EPO. At the same time the UCI was taking donations from Lance Armstrong. McQuaid denied this was a resignation issue, in fact he went on to say he’d do it again, “the UCI would still accept money“. He justified this by saying the UCI was not as rich as FIFA which has “billions in the bank” which unfortuately implies that the poorer the sports federation, the more ethics can be ignored. This was the point when McQuaid was under the greatest pressure as the BBC’s David Bond pressed why a rider presenting suspicious values was suddenly donating to the UCI. McQuaid said Armstrong did not test positive but Bond fired back to say not positive but suspicious. McQuaid was visibly shaken and stirred by Bond.

The UCI was also asked about other investigations. It replied it was too early to start investigating Vinokourov and Kasheckin for their payments to Michele Ferrari but McQuaid later said the Bertagnolli deposition concerned “old riders” whose “career is finished“, presumably something active riders like Roman Kreuziger, L-L Sanchez and Fillipo Pozzato won’t be pleased to learn. Confusingly McQuaid said “the culture has to change” but didn’t seem in a rush to investigate Vinokourov who is set to run the Astana team in 2013, preferring to wait for developments in Italy. Despite ” the biggest crisis” the UCI is waiting for others to act here.

The idea that the UCI has done plenty is worth noting and celebrating because yes cycling has gone further than other sports. There’s the True Champion or Cheat programme. We have the no needle policy whilst tennis players use syringes to treat pre-match niggles. We have the bio-passport whilst other sports hardly dare test for EPO. But this is good but not a strong argument for the UCI. First riders hurry through the tick-box True Champion website, some even get their agent to complete it for them. Next the no-needles policy arrived courtesy of the teams, notably Garmin and the UCI adopted it but it came from the groun up, not from the top-down. And the bio-passport is great but it’s just not being used enough, for example take Carlos Barredo, the pro peloton’s señor of suspicion right now, who the UCI has announced it is going to prosecute with the bio-passport for dodgy data over the years. Given the curious numbers has the UCI been watching him closely? No, I am told he has been tested only once this year. Above all these tests are necessary but they’re not sufficient to fight doping. Yet when people try to blow the whistle they get attacked:

Pat McQuaid, president of cycling’s governing body, UCI, said he didn’t understand Andreu’s objectives in revealing he used EPO “If Andreu wishes to say that, that’s up to him to say that,” McQuaid said during a telephone interview. “I don’t know what he’s trying to achieve because he cannot achieve anything by saying this.” McQuaid said neither admission should cast doubt on Armstrong’s record or his 1999 Tour victory. “To take dope is an individual decision by an individual rider,” McQuaid said.

We need to hear about independent testing, greater funding for the biopassport, whistleblower hotlines and – whisper it – perhaps the UCI should be hiring private detectives to put the most suspicious riders under surveillance (as outlandish as this might seem large companies exist to provide these services). So yes the UCI can’t get police powers but it can do a lot, to say it has to rely on blood and urine samples alone is too narrow.

Lance Armstrong’s name gets removed from the books but in way we thought this was going to happen. He now gets the “disgraced former cyclist” prefix endured by others over the years as the UCI has confirmed it accepts USADA’s reasoned decision in full, a welcome change after it spent a long time trying to undermine the US agency.

History has been rewritten by the only victor is Travis Tygart and his dogged pursuit of the truth. The fear has to be that if things don’t change in pro cycling then the past will repeat itself. We’re told there’s a UCI meeting on Friday to “begin the process of examining the existing structures and introducing changes to safeguard the future of cycling” so maybe there’s hope of change.

Only when the President said “the culture has to change” he seems to have exempted the UCI from this. He appeared to shut down suggestions for reform within the UCI, whether refusing to consider obvious improvements like separating anti-doping from the UCI and even said the UCI is ready to bank donations from riders. Similarly the UCI will wait for news from Italy rather than investigate those outed paying huge sums of money to Michele Ferrari, openly showing the unwillingness to chase down big names.

The UCI says Armstrong “deserves to be forgotten” when in fact they should put a statue of him outside their front door so every day they can think about the mistakes made and the lesson to be learned. Karl Marx said “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce“. Cycling has had too many tragedies and too much farce already.

You can watch the press conference in full courtesy of fellow “nom de plume idiots” Cyclismas:

127 thoughts on “The UCI and Armstrong: History Rewritten or Repeated?”

  1. Didn’t McQuaid say, after prompting, the since June 2011 anyone convicted of doping could not hold a management licence but they could not act retrospectively (he’d obviously been practicing that word). How does that affect Vinokourov? He can’t be referring to retroactive action regarding the date of the offence, surely.

    • Yes. I’ve covered the rule before and essentially only those with new doping convictions are blocked and even then there are get outs. So for Vinokourov there would have to be a new conviction.

      But with him given the evidence of financial payments he should be investigated and politely asked to stay away from the team until this is completed for the sake of the sport.

      I gather the UCI has the unedited version of the USADA report so it can not only look into Vino and Kash but also the others named in the report.

      • Could you provide a link? It does seem to me that, again, the UCI are not committed to anything but themselves. Does it mean that, as Armstrong’s offences occurred before 2011 he could apply successfully for a management licence, given there is clearly no fit and proper judgement?

        • Here’s the text from the rulebook:

          No licence to participate in the sport as Staff under clause 1.1.010 (general manager, team
          manager, coach, doctor, paramedical assistant, mechanic, driver, riders’ agent or other function as specified on the licence) shall be granted to a person who has been found by an appropriate body to have violated as an athlete the UCI’s Anti-Doping Rules or the anti-doping rules of any other organisation. However a licence may be granted if all three of the following conditions are fulfilled:
          (1) the person concerned committed a violation only once,
          (2) the said violation was not sanctioned with an ineligibility for two years or more,
          (3) five years have elapsed between the moment of the violation and the first day of the year
          for which the licence is granted.
          Furthermore, no licence to participate in the sport as a staff member under clause 1.1.010 shall be granted to a person who has been found by a court of law or other competent body to have beenguilty of facts which can reasonably be considered to be equivalent to a violation of the UCI’s Anti Doping Rules and who was a medical doctor at the time of such facts.
          This clause applies in case of violations committed as from 1st July 2011.

  2. Did they say anything about the blank names?

    Suppose that UCI is unwilling to take further action, have other national federations or antidoping agencies have showed any indication of doing so?

  3. Great review of the press conference, especially for those of us who were not able to follow as it unfolded. In a sense today is a great victory for cycling fans, it’s also the chance for a fresh start – whether we get that fresh start is another matter entirely. The coming weeks should provide some sort of indication as where the UCI will head with this – with or without McQuaid.

  4. I’m interested to know who is on the UCI management board and to whom they are accountable.

    I understood that the UCI management board is by invitation, it’s not elected or accountable to anyone – is this true?

  5. One only hopes that Prudhomme & Vaughters , + a few others (I mention Vaughters because he seems to be the smartest guy in the room) rip control away from the UCI & form a new structure for road cycling.

  6. //INRNG – Thanks! You have, and continue, to provide the absolute best coverage of cycling’s important issues available anywhere.

  7. The UCI seem to me like yet another organisation struggling with problems they have no answers for.
    The world they work in moves too fast and is too complex for their creaking management structures.
    The President, like the CEO’s of most companies, is there simply to attend meetings and front up press conferences and to put whatever positive spin he can on events. No one would do a better or worse job than McQuaid. This kind of talk is typical – ‘begin the process of examining the existing structures and introducing changes to safeguard the future of cycling’ – meaningless jargon repeated by middle-aged men in boardrooms the world over. It’s this culture that needs to change. If only there were performance-enhancing drugs for men in suits.

  8. Shame on the UCI. It reads as though they have no interest in truly repairing the damage that continues to plague the sport.

    When the rumblings of a breakaway league first started appearing on cycling blogs and forums, I wasn’t a big fan of the idea. These days however, maybe it’s the smart thing to do. Scrap it all and start fresh.

  9. I have a question about allowing dopers to return:

    If Tom Danielson, for instance, comes back in 6 months, does he have a competitive advantage because he doped in the past but is clean now? which is to say, does the fact that someone has used epo in the past contribute to a life-long increase or do the effects just wear off? If he was able to train longer and recover faster thus making him a stronger rider, don’t the effects of doping give him a competitive advantage, even after he cleans out?

    • “does the fact that someone has used epo in the past contribute to a life-long increase or do the effects just wear off?”

      The effects wear off. In the short term, stopping doping with rEPO is actually detrimental as the exogenous stuff suppresses the body’s own EPO. There is a lag while endogenous EPO production recovers, which leads to a fall in red cell production – IIRC Pantani needed blood transfusions while in hospital following a serious crash as an amateur for this reason.


    • There are also other long term problems as well, the risk of cancer increases and it even seems to play on the mood of riders, some anecdotal reports suggest when they finish with EPO they become prone to depression but this unconfirmed.

      • Is LA’s cancer at all related to his doping? Was that prior to his doping?

        Also for Tyler Hamilton depression was a big issue for which he was medicating . I believe this led to his second conviction…At least I believe that TH’s story.

  10. Cycling as an Olympic sport may be doomed. Why should the Olympic Committee keep a sport riddled with past doping and a governing body seemingly incapable of dealing with the situation?

  11. What I cannot understand is the UCI saying they do not have police powers. Neither did USADA. The difference was the UCI took a position that they only investigate failed tests (to pretty shoddy standards). USADA spoke to the people making the accustaions, banged on doors and started interviewing people and getting them to confess. All of the tools used by USADA were available to the UCI. Pat the Twat and the UCI have done everything in their power to derail and ridicule USADA so if they accept the reports findings they should walk the plank.

    Please please Vaughters and co take control – because this lot are a disgrace.

    • Vaughters and company take control? Vaughters is a self-confessed former doper who employs the same. At least one former staff member has been implicated as a contributing “prescriber” with no acknowledgement whatsoever. Vaughters’ press machine is as murky as status quo, and a few hurrahs for anti-doping don’t clear out that murk. One of his riders, Millar is hardly a hero either – all of his lamentations of late have been aimed at Verbruggen, safe but interestingly political and not anti-McQuaid and not severely anti-system.

      Are we really sure about their staunch anti-doping dogmas? I think not. What is more realistic is a team-run and controlled internal programme aimed at “permissable limits” all of which are set high enough to account for some blood manipulation.

      There is no white hat there, look elsewhere for committed leadership.

  12. “does the fact that someone has used epo in the past contribute to a life-long increase or do the effects just wear off?”

    If you take HGH then some of the effects are permanent.

    Would be interesting to see how riders shoe sizes have changed over their careers.

    • This is my basic point: if by doping of any kind, a person could get his watts/kg up to say 6.0 and then quit doping and it drops to 5.8 or something, but having never doped he would have been unable to have gotten it that high riding clean, should he be allowed to ever ride competitively again? is that even possible?

  13. Seems like biz as usual for pro cycling – toss out the guy who is caught (despite all their efforts at concealment, etc.) and make empty proclamations about continuing to root out the cheaters while taking the bribes, milking the conflict-of-interests and lining their pockets. Just when you think things have hit rock-bottom you realize there’s still further for pro cycling to fall with these asshats in charge.

  14. Yes, bravo, Inrng! Though you might also mention that it’s totally irresponsible for USADA to go wrecking the sport without a clear (or any) idea how to improve enforcement. It’s not the riders’ duty to satisfy everyone’s sense of moral fiber by losing races in obscurity until they get fired. It’s the sport’s duty to enforce the rules. If the sport won’t or can’t, then we would have been better off leaving the doping as a persistent rumor.

    Everyone’s been trying to scare hell out of the riders. And guess what? It turns out professional cyclists don’t scare easily. If they did, they would have chosen a different line of work. You know who does scare easily? Sponsors. So thanks, USADA, and now, thanks UCI. Instead of a doped-up peloton covered in glory, it’s likely we will now have a doped-up peloton covered in ghetto. That is, if there’s a peloton at all.

    • Interesting that you seem to be proposing that USADA has no business exposing an enormous cheating effort that spanned more than a decade. And if it hadn’t, the sport would have just steamed along until something else blew the ship over.

      But your point about expecting the riders to do just what they’ve been doing is a good one. Given the lack of enforcement and the look the other way attitude for decades, one would be silly to expect the riders to do anything else.

    • It’s not just USADA. The French police did Festina, the Spanish got Puerto, the Italians are doing theres. It’s like saying if there were no police we’d have no fraud to worry about.

      Take a read of Zabriskie’s statement and how he sought refuge in cycling after his drug-addicted father made home life tough and how he later was coerced into taking EPO. He fell into depression after this. Nobody should have to go through this.

        • Zabriskie’s statement was the single most heart-wrenching moment in the whole report. Two hundred pages well worth the read just for that moment of enlightenment about how things worked and the cost to riders.

    • Let me rinse this and spin this back at you:

      ” It’s not the riders’ duty to satisfy everyone’s sense of moral fiber by losing races in obscurity until they get fired.”

      Ok how about “It’s not the USADA’s duty to improve the sport’s cash flow by rubber stamping a fraudulent myth that makes for a nice story but is based on violation of the rules, threats, manipulation of evidence and lies”. It is the USADA’s duty to ensure that the WADA code that is enforced.

      I encourage you to write to the IOC and WADA to manifest your desire to have financially thriving sports, and that the rules that are impeding such growth should be stricken. I think the WWE could be interested to co-sign your petition.

      • I ‘m absolutely not saying that the rules should not be enforced. I’m saying if they can’t be enforced better than this, there’s no point in having any. And I absolutely feel horrible for Dave Zabriskie, among others. It’s exactly my point. I’m trying to emphasize that what you have is a broken system, not a sport that just happens to be more full of moral failures than any other.

        I have zero sympathy for Lance Armstrong, because all the evidence suggests he not only cheated with relish but is a bully. But my feelings aren’t important. The rules make no distinction between him and someone like poor old Dave Z. Someone needs to put as much energy into fixing the system as they did into bringing down Lance, which I haven’t seen happening. Because the upshot of all of this is likely that it will be even harder for Dave Z to race clean, because people will still be doping, he’s now tainted as a cheater, and there may not be any sponsors to ride for.

        I’m not seriously suggesting that everybody just look the other way. It’s simply a rhetorical device to drive home my point. Look, what they’re doing is like chemotherapy. Sometimes you have to poison the patient to get rid of the cancer. But there are a whole raft of other things you have to do in order for that treatment to be effective, and if you don’t do them, you’re just poisoning people. I don’t know what they are, either. But I don’t hear either of these agencies even addressing it, beyond all this BS about “a new day for the sport.”

        • Let me see if I can make myself even clearer: when thousands of people play a game, and vastly more people are consistently cheating than playing by the rules, the problem is with the game. The alternative, in this case, is to believe that professional cyclists are significantly more evil than the general population, which I refuse to accept.

          In Lance’s case, yeah, he does seem a bit evil. Justice served. But what about the game?

          • I don’t know about being more evil, but they certainly are more inclined to cheating at any cost than general population. Like other elite athletes according to Goldman dilemma:

            “There’s a well-known survey in sports, known as the Goldman Dilemma. For it, a researcher, Bob Goldman, began asking elite athletes in the 1980s whether they would take a drug that guaranteed them a gold medal but would also kill them within five years. More than half of the athletes said yes. When he repeated the survey biannually for the next decade, the results were always the same. About half of the athletes were quite ready to take the bargain.

            Only recently did researchers get around to asking nonathletes the same question. In results published online in February, 2009 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, exactly 2 of the 250 people surveyed in Sydney, Australia, said that they would take a drug that would ensure both success and an early death. “We were surprised,” James Connor, Ph.D., a lecturer at the University of New South Wales and one of the study’s authors, said in an e-mail message. “I expected 10-20 percent yes.” His conclusion, unassailable if inexplicable, is that “elite athletes are different from the general population, especially on desire to win.” “

  15. Pretty awesome, actually, to see USADA absolutely hand it to the UCI. There are not a lot of people/organizations out there who could have reduced the UCI to this point.
    Hard to argue with the case that they put together……..

  16. I find it more than a little convenient that the French lab comes out and says the LA failed test was just “suspicious”, just 2 days before the UCI has to come out and defend itself against corruption charges.

    Methinks someone should be looking for interesting wire transfers to that French lab or its directors.

        • The question is worth asking because the UCI was chasing Armstrong to pay his $100,000 pledge at the same time that the Vrijman Report was gestating. The UCI has claimed that the funds pledged by Armstrong were used to purchase a Sysmex machine, but the fact that a Sysmex machine may have been purchased (when, and by who) does not establish that Armstrong’s pledge was used to pay for it. So the UCI payments to Mr. Vrijman need to be scrutinized as well – the timing of the payments to Mr. Vrijman, the amounts of the payments, and any communications with Mr. Armstrong or his representatives concerning payment of his pledge. Does Paul Kimmage have the ability to subpoena documents from the UCI in his pending defamation lawsuit?

    • The whole 2001 test issue actually makes a bit of sense to me, though I’m speculating.
      The lab comes up with suspicious values. The procedure is to call Armstrong in. Armstrong gets a call from the UCI telling him to come in and ‘explain’ suspicious blood values. He says to Hamilton and Landis ‘I’ve been popped for EPO, but i can make it go away’ part brag, part truth. That is all they testified he said. Armstrong meets with the UCI, makes the payment, and it goes away. The assumption LA was talking about an actual positive and not being called in front of the UCI could be the missing link here.

      The actual timeline here is crucial.
      When was Armstrong called in to the UCI to explain as per the procedure?(or was he actually called in?)
      When did he tell Landis and Hamilton? (i cannot remember if they testified in the present tense “I’ll make it go away” or the past tense “i made it go away”)

      When did he actually meet with the UCI?
      When was the payment made?

      If those timelines match up it is pretty damning.
      McQuaid was very evasive and looked under pressure when discussing the issue.

  17. Wonderful Analysis by you Inring,
    Insightful comments by all.

    Does anyone else get that slightly sic feeling, when we talk about our sport and the doping and mismanagement that seems to pervade the highest pro cycling ranks? Too talk of removing cycling from the Olympics is just awful!

    It’s as if some times when I describe pro road cycling to friends they look at me like I also watch pro wrestling and believe that someone actually won!

    • Impossible.

      During this period French newspaper Le Monde refused to publish the results of the Tour de France saying it was a pharmaceutical contest and did not belong in the sports spages. It was a rival of L’Equipe so had an interesting in raining on the race. But ultimately it wasn’t wrong.

      • How ’bout “The Moment The Race was Won” by USADA. USADA finally won the “race” to expose our generations biggest sporting fraud. It would be nice to get your take on the tipping point…

  18. Today should be renamed as the “Day of the Nom de Plume Idiots” all of, every single one of us on the plethora of websites and forums who have questioned his myth over the years. We should also pass more credit than we ever can to that special group of people of David Walsh, Paul Kimmage, Greg Lemond and his family, Betsy Andreu, Emma O’Rielly, Stephen Swart, Mike Anderson; every single one who spoke out at risk to their own livelihood to allow the truth to be known.

    We all wanted today to happen and to an extent it has. I believe that the UCI still has to go through a wholesale change for cycling to fully move on. Someone like Paul Kimmage or Greg LeMond should be running the sport, people with a level of integrity and honesty we can trust. I have no faith in McQuaid, anti-doping has to be in independent hands maybe WADA and the riders themselves MUST look to themselves and find the right way forward. I’m prepared to accept cycling has moved on since “The Era Formerly Known as the Armstrong Era” but it’s like a quick dust and hoover, our sport needs a full deep spring clean however it happens!!

  19. “I don’t see why we should” — of course Pat has to say this. The UCI apparently thinks that prosecuting Carlos Barredo drove Rabobank from the sport, so they must admit that there’s a conflict of interest between policing the sport and promoting it. This is what suggests a separate organization with a mandate to police would be useful. What does Pat see as the disadvantages of this approach? (a journalist has to ask). Of course with the weasely / useless answers this panel gave, you can’t really hold too much against the journalists for not getting more out of them. Rossi’s answers in particular stick out as totally vapid and devoid of meaning.

  20. Although I have ridden and competed at an amateur level for too many years to mention, I have no firsthand knowledge of professional cycling or its management. What I do have is considerable knowledge of business at a corporate and multi-national level. In my opinion that press conference was shambolic, amateurish and without a clear strategy. The body language of Pat McQuaid at the end, when the Q&A session was closed, is worth a second view – he looks what he is, completely out of his depth, not very confidence inspiring from a corporate perspective (or any perspective for that matter). I agree with Inner Ring’s description of it – disastrous! The UCI looked a bunch of amateurs, but I have to take my hat off to Philippe Verbiest, not many people can make Pat McQuaid look good by comparison.

    I just cannot believe that any of the big corporate sponsors would have taken any comfort from it or believe that new, embarrassing disclosures would not be forthcoming. I would be very interested to see who the new sponsor is that Pat McQuaid said was on the horizon as Rabbobank leaves. I certainly would not be recommending ‘road cycling’ as a vehicle for promoting my company. The real pressure for change will come when the money leaves.

    • I’ve said before the UCI need more media training. I know people from Aigle read but it wasn’t presumptuous advice, just an observation that McQuaid struggles in public conferences. Today he was nervously clicking on his retractable pen as he spoke. A little bit of practice or even training goes a long way.

      The press conference started with a scripted response but once the Q&A began the message started to lose itself and the contradictions appeared. I know a governing body can’t present such a tight message as an enormous corporation but I do feel the sport is losing credibility because it’s not being presented right and the leadership isn’t there.

      • No doubt the UCI folks do need some training and to become more media savvy, but if your fundamental position is incoherent, inconsistent and weak no amount of media training will recover that. I believe “lipstick on a pig” is the relevant phrase.

        To be fair to McQuid and the UCI they were true to the principle of what-you-see-is-what-you-get, a shambling, incoherent organisation with a shambling, incoherent media presence. Not really what I mean when I call for transparency!

  21. Pat’s, er, communication effort thing, reminded me of a line (delivered sarcastically) from an Oliver Stone film, U-Turn, “Your lies are old, but you tell them well!”

    • Yes, the vultures have descended on the corpse, but put aside the doping and the bullying and Lance’s contribution to cycling has been immense: the TdeF, many riders, the profile of the sport, journalists, Trek, Nike etc etc, all benefitted enormously from his story, personality and professionalism. Not that I’m excusing him in any way, of course.

  22. Watched the conference live and agree with Inner Rings usual high standard of assessment. Open mouthed at some of the silly comments. McQuaid ended up looking like a deer in the headlights. He turned and ran at the various points where he could have done what he is urging dopers to do, stand up, admit he & his organisation stuffed up. This would have shown the UCI actually understood what was / is happening and decided to take control of the situation, too many failed amateurs in the wrong positions. Like those in front of the Grand Jury McQuaid & the UCI have (still) done nothing until the gun & badge were pointed at them.
    Pro Cycling is at the crossroads, just as it was in 1998 & 2006, the difference now is the UCI is in the cross hairs. It is a perfect opportunity for an organisation such as ASO to step in and take pro cycling away from people such as McQuaid & Verbruggin. Whomever takes control should they set up an independent testing structure with WADA & sit down with the Teams, work out a transfer market & revenue arrangement to stabilise the model. It works in F1, WRC etc. not perfect but a lot better than this current mess.
    Let the UCI do what they do best, …. fluff around in taxpayer funded cocktail parties

  23. As a licence holder in Australia – I’m planning on emailing Klaus Mueller today requesting that Cycling Australia agitate for some change in the management committee.

    I’d suggest any other readers here with a racing licence contact their federations and request they do the same. If this keeps up I may have to switch back to triathlon (which Anne Gripper currently presides over in Australia).

  24. Great summary. Did you see the interesting 5 pager that was distributed ? – “press pack” – full of exculpatory statements, legal gobbledegook, sideswipes at USADA language , even reiterating that USADA had no right to strip/ban beyond 8 year limitation and almost daring WADA to take it to CAS on this issue. The mealy mouthed document full of legalisms, shows the governing body in its true light, CYA and sue anyone who dares to raise concerns re corruption. I would have liked to see McQuaid hung out to dry on the Andreu reaction though but the opportunity has now slipped. Ah well back to business.

  25. I can’t believe people are expecting the UCI to quit and pushing for a breakaway league, doesn’t anyone know who owns professional cycling?

    ASO. They own all the races, which means they can make the change.

    ASO can decide to pull the rug out and force McQuaid and Verbruggen to quit (at the very least). If McQuaid and Verbruggen refuse, ASO just run the Tour de France, Giro, Vuelta and all the Classics themselves. They can bring in WADA to run the testing, and deal direct with JV, etc. Meanwhile they seal the deal with some support from the IOC (who are pretty easy to “win over”, not cheap, just easy).

    ASO are looking at massive devastation in their assets, by the bumbling of the UCI essentially. I am amazed they have stayed silent and allowed this to happen. Now is the time for them to act.

    • Yup – but they need to take the teams with them; that’ll probably cost them too – I’d love to see a cost/benefit analysis with the options being
      1) Stay with UCI and keep the TV rights £€$ 100%
      2) Go it alone, like we thought about previously, and have to negotiate with multiple entrepreneurs to keep the £€$ up and end up giving away a share of the TV rights.

      It’d be a financial risk, so it would take a CEO at ASO that really believed in investing in cycling. I’d be really interested to see a financial model for Pro-Cycling as a whole that showed the value of all of the income to Pro Cyling as whole (sponsors/TV/others), expenses (race support/lab testing/wages/agents fees) as well as the circulation within the sector (race fees/levys etc). Has anyone come across something like that?

  26. What struck me throughout the press conference was the disconnect between recognising that this was “organised doping” and even “forced doping” in a doping culture, and the response that it was the rider’s choice, and that the UCI’s response is limited by catching riders who cheat.

    I don’t think anyone doubts that there will be riders who, independently of their teams, will go out and try and gain some advantage. But a) that isn’t what happened here, and b) those riders are far more likely to get caught. Where are the penalties against the managers and doctors who facilitate that culture? Why does the system tell a rider they are responsible for what is in their system, but not expand that to the doctors who are monitoring them for most of the year?

    McQuaid may have a point that they were limited in their ability to test individual riders. But there hasn’t been a shortage of positive tests in the past decade. And most of them have been on riders associated in some way with the same doctors and managers currently under investigation. If the problem has been treated as a cultural one, and teams made responsible for that culture, we’d have seen those people pushed out of the sport (or reformed) years ago. And if there was one single aspect of the press conference that boded poorly for the future, it was that McQuaid still doesn’t see it as a cultural problem, but a problem of testing of individuals.

  27. Perhaps this isn’t immediately relevant here, but I’m curious if there is anything in place to help riders find jobs if their contracts aren’t renewed. Like many, I don’t like what seems to be the attitude of blaming the riders who get caught doping while ignoring more systemic issues. And it seems like leaving riders with no help at the end of their careers is just another example of a system that doesn’t really have the riders’ interests at heart. I know it wouldn’t fix everything, but perhaps knowing there was a system in place to help them find jobs would keep riders from feeling so desperate (and thus more likely to consider doping) if they found themselves struggling for results & likely to be replaced by a rider with more points.

    • Very interesting point and something I’d be keen to find out too. Two of my friends are ex-pro footballers and the English FA have a well-developed system of support in place for players who don’t quite make their grade or don’t have their contract renewed. This includes subsidised university fees and coaching opportunities. No doubt this helps in lessening the blow of being released.

      • The Drapac Porsche team in Australia has a requirement of its riders that they be in univeristy studies or properly employed, which would be worth noting by bigger teams. Helps that the team owner has a son on the team, but noble idea all the same. They have a history of resurrecting careers and lives of riders who have otherwise been chewed up by the system and life.

        Also worth noting is their shabby treatement by UCI member and race director of TDU (conflicts and rorts are endemic at the UCI) Mike Turtur. Unlike European races, Turtur does everything possible to ensure local Aussie teams don’t get on board. There is one Uni SA team, which is a convenient patsy for him and is the only one who gets a spot at the TDU.

  28. So reading between the linesnew test comes in, Lance has his collar felt by the UCI due to an 85% probability that he’s doping. The same thing probably happened to other athletes. With LA though “Its not about…(insert todays issue)… its about me!” He decides his best defence is to give UCI some cash; Hein is alway sopen to donations and accepts.. LA’s braggadoccio takes over and he decides that “He alone” has UCI in his pocket. It’s that misunderstanding of the position that he passes on to Floyd and Tyler and in turn it is the retelling of that tale that lands Kimmage in court. I can actually understand why Pat and Hein are pissed here., but I can see how the donation makes it hard to come clean, and as time goes on, harder and harder.

    Money and ego – a powerful combination; so to take us forward
    a) get the testing done outside of UCI (and any other race organiser.)
    b) get the sponsors together to decide how their money is to be spent and who should organise the sport they pay for.

    The above two measures should see the UCI forced to change to “re-focus” on the grass roots level of the sport and developing those other disciplines that they are responsible for – even the skateboarding perhaps?

  29. “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it,” George Santayana (December 16, 1863, Madrid – September 26, 1952, Rome a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist). True when he said it and still true today as this shambles perfectly illustrates

  30. I shall be contacting my federation by email to express my displeasure as a fan. I would urge everyone to take the 5 minutes to do the same to do what little we can to increase the pressure on the UCI.
    It’s clearer than ever that some would gladly take the money, perks and a quiet life as opposed to being proactive and providing a clear diretion.

  31. UCI, EU, same muddle, same outcome, Why is anyone surprised?
    The reporters knew but most kept it secret? Typical.
    I suspect Lance Armstrong will never admit he was wrong, will maybe blame the coaches, the fans, the media and the doctor and sue us all because we made him win under duress? What a joke that will be on us all.

  32. It seems to me that the UCI is way more interested in saving itself and status quo than reforming cycling. Tragic for those of us who love the sport.

  33. People keep saying or acknowledging that the UCI don’t have police powers and therefore can’t search team buses and hotels. I don’t buy this. They write the rules and grant the licences, they should make licences conditional on the teams agreeing to random searches, chaperones, etc.

    I think I’d agree that out of competition searches of their houses or private property would be going too far, but when in competition or training, why shouldn’t hotels and vehicles be searched? Am I missing something?

    • Good point, worth exploring although obviously the determined cheats would just hide things better.

      There are things they can investigate without a police uniform or a judge’s mandate, from payments to Ferrari to more. They might not be able to get as far as the police but it would help if they could show more determination.

  34. As expected a very underwhelming experience. UCI only wants to serve the UCI and propagate self. I know that it is still early days but I do not see any concerted effort to reform the UCI peacefully, or forcibly.

    Without the reform at the head of cycling, cycling as a sport has no hope. None.

  35. The UCI head calls Hamilton and Landis ‘scumbags’. How much lower can they go ? Landis offered the UCI this information several years ago and they chose to ignore him and he was not the first to offer details of doping.

    Until this self serving group of unaccountable hypocrites leave the scene there can be little hope for the future. Festina, Peurto and now Armstrong and they blame everybody but themselves. The sport still has a serious problem in several areas and until such time as this is challenged there will be little change for young riders.

  36. I agree 100% that the UCI blew it, as expected, and Armstrong must always be remembered. In fact, they should funnel his tenacity and focus on trying to keep doping out of the sport. Let him keep his Tour de France victories as the greatest doped cyclist in history and then make him spend the rest of his life working to keep the sport he loves as clean as possible.

    • That’s the thing – I dont think he gives a tinker’s cuss for the sport. For him its all about money, power, famous and powerful connections, and the need to feel the most superior being on the planet.

    • With the Puerto trial on the horizon, the Spanish are a bit twitchy. Interestingly, they are all ‘on message’ – against witness testimony. This has them all riled up. Does anyone know whether this is a cultural thing with the Spanish? Alternately, are there witness testimonies in Puerto and they are trying to get ahead of that story?

  37. I was absolutely appalled at Mr. McQuaid’s remarks concerning cyclists giving donations to the UCI. In no way should this be allowed because it’s unethical and a clear conflict of interest. You cannot have the governing body performing drug tests on the one hand and open to donations on the other hand.

    What the press conference showed was the defensive nature of the organization. It equates its public image with that of competitive cycling and the two are not one and the same. The UCI should have openly embraced USADA’s work and process in this matter rather than fighting it tooth-and-nail on matters of jurisdiction and bureaucratic legalese.

    The UCI has a huge trust issue right now — with the public, the riders, the sponsors, and WADA. It needs to be open to regain that trust. Quit being defensive, attacking riders that come forward with the truth (and for goodness sake, investigate what they tell you and protect them) and not accepting the reality of what happened under its watch. Saying that organization had no way of knowing what was happening ten years ago is just not true – the information has been out there but the UCI was not proactive in investigating it — all they had to do was talk to people. But most of all, stop attacking those that are trying to help the sport; it’s mind boggling to see journalists and cyclists sued for defamation and yet the UCI president call them names in the press the very next day. It’s a sad thing to witness.

    • The ethical problem created by accepting donations from cyclists is real. And the case in point is Armstrong’s donations to the UCI. Ponder that, by Mr. McQuaid’s latest telling of the story, the UCI was attempting to collect a $100,000 pledge from Mr. Armstrong at the same time that Emile Vrijman was preparing his independent report on allegations that retrospective testing of Mr. Armstrong’s samples from the 1999 Tour de France disclosed that he had taken epo. Whether real or apparent, the conflict of interest created by these actions undermines any institutional credibility that the UCI might have. Furthermore, having created this ethical problem, the UCI insists that it would accept donations from athletes in the future, without offering any concrete proposal of how this would be done, in Mr. McQuaid’s words, “differently.” In truth, the entire donation saga has remained opaque – as far as I know the UCI has still not produced any documentation of Mr. Armstronga pledges, of the efforts to collect the pledges, or of the payment of the pledges – so we have no clear understanding of how the UCI handled the donations this time.

  38. McQuack showing his true colours in his “Decision” document released on the UCI website. In front of the media he says one thing and then says the other when not confronted by the media. There will be no change as long as Pat and his minions are in control of the UCI. Cycling is doomed. Time to abandon the UCI and form another democratic, transparent and credible cycling federation.

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