Greg LeMond’s Letter to The UCI

Greg LeMond

Greg LeMond has written an open letter to the UCI calling on President McQuaid to quit. The tone is blunt, explosive and accusative. “Resign Pat if you love cycling. Resign even if you hate the sport” he says in the letter. You’ll find the full text below.

I support the idea but this might only make the UCI President dig in even deeper, something I’ll also explain below too. Reform and change from the UCI is very difficult to achieve for several reasons.

Can anyone help me out? I know this sounds kind of lame but I am not well versed in social marketing. I would like to send a message to everyone that really loves cycling. I do not use twitter and do not have an organized way of getting some of my own “rage” out. I want to tell the world of cycling to please join me in telling Pat McQuaid to f##k off and resign. I have never seen such an abuse of power in cycling’s history- resign Pat if you love cycling. Resign even if you hate the sport.

Pat McQuaid, you know damn well what has been going on in cycling, and if you want to deny it, then even more reasons why those who love cycling need to demand that you resign.

I have a file with what I believe is well documented proof that will exonerate Paul.

Pat in my opinion you and Hein are the corrupt part of the sport. I do not want to include everyone at the UCI because I believe that there are many, maybe most that work at the UCI that are dedicated to cycling, they do it out of the love of the sport, but you and your buddy Hein have destroyed the sport.

Pat, I thought you loved cycling? At one time you did and if you did love cycling please dig deep inside and remember that part of your life- allow cycling to grow and flourish- please! It is time to walk away. Walk away if you love cycling.

As a reminder I just want to point out that recently you accused me of being the cause of USADA’s investigation against Lance Armstrong. Why would you be inclined to go straight to me as the “cause”? Why shoot the messenger every time?

Every time you do this I get more and more entrenched. I was in your country over the last two weeks and I asked someone that knows you if you were someone that could be rehabilitated. His answer was very quick and it was not good for you. No was the answer, no, no , no!

The problem for sport is not drugs but corruption. You are the epitome of the word corruption.

You can read all about Webster’s definition of corruption. If you want I can re-post my attorney’s response to your letter where you threaten to sue me for calling the UCI corrupt. FYI I want to officially reiterate to you and Hein that in my opinion the two of your represent the essence of corruption.

I would encourage anyone that loves cycling to donate and support Paul in his fight against the Pat and Hein and the UCI. Skip lunch and donate the amount that you would have spent towards that Sunday buffet towards changing the sport of cycling.

I donated money for Paul’s defense, and I am willing to donate a lot more, but I would like to use it to lobby for dramatic change in cycling. The sport does not need Pat McQuaid or Hein Verbruggen- if this sport is going to change it is now. Not next year, not down the road, now! Now or never!

People that really care about cycling have the power to change cycling- change it now by voicing your thought and donating money towards Paul Kimmage’s defense, (Paul, I want to encourage you to not spend the money that has been donated to your defense fund on defending yourself in Switzerland. In my case, a USA citizen, I could care less if I lost the UCI’s bogus lawsuit. Use the money to lobby for real change).

If people really want to clean the sport of cycling up all you have to do is put your money where your mouth is.

Don’t buy a USA Cycling license. Give up racing for a year, just long enough to put the UCI and USA cycling out of business. We can then start from scratch and let the real lovers in cycling direct where and how the sport of cycling will go.

Please make a difference.


It’s a strong statement, not just pointing out past problems when it comes to doping and leadership but only calling out corruption.

Ask not what your federation can do for you, ask what you can do for your federation
You can feel LeMond’s anger but I’d think twice about the last statement. Rather than shunning the national federation, I think we need people to contact their governing body and hold them to account. Don’t just use your licence to race, use it to vote.

  • If you are a licence holder then these federations act on your behalf, it is your subscription that helps fund them.
  • Even if you are not a licence holder then your taxes probably go to funding a federation to speak to them too

Often the officials in charge of these federations move in different circles to the typical cyclist, attending international conferences on sports administration and mixing with other officials so they are not always aware of the frustration felt by many fans when the letters U, C and I are concerned.

Defensive Position
The UCI is a conservative and defensive organisation. Often this is good, a sports body should be built on the foundations of its rulebook and constitution and not easily blown off course by events. But the more insults are thrown at Aigle, the more some dig in and entrench themselves. Instead of reaching out, the risk is they lash out. Rather than starting a dialogue with others, the UCI’s leadership might just resort to more lawsuits.

This should be a time when Pat McQuaid is trying to get the message across but the UCI is quiet. Not silent, we had the set piece press conference response to the USADA/Armstrong case but there have not been many interviews in recent days. All when the UCI could be pounding the message about the value of the bio-passport and trying to put out as much good news as possible. This is part of the problem with the current leadership, they struggle to sell the good news and so let others paint a picture of what goes on in Aigle. From the outside the UCI’s leadership appear to have a bunker mentality. I’ve read and listened to more interviews with Greg LeMond in recent times than with all the UCI officials combined.

So we end up with a vicious cycle where the UCI won’t address questions. For example it’s taken years to get the story on the Armstrong donations. We have an impossible situation where mild critics of the UCI can’t get answers, for example some journalists are not considered friendly to the UCI’s agenda so they might be blanked. At the same time the governing body often won’t reach out to put its case. Which only leaves the more trenchant critics frustrated and we end up with America’s greatest Tour de France champion going public with allegations of corruption.

It all adds to a sense of a showdown with the Paul Kimmage trial in December.

Be careful what you wish for
As set out last month, replacing the UCI leadership is near impossible under the rules and clearly nobody in Aigle is in the mood to say sorry.

But were McQuaid and Verbruggen to ride off into the sunset tomorrow nobody knows who the replacement would be. They’d have be nominated by a national federation and then win support from the UCI’s Congress, an electoral college formed of delegates from around the world. In other words it is hard to parachute an outsider into Aigle, the replacement could be someone like Igor Makarov or an associate.

Many want to see the UCI leadership shape up or ship out, plenty don’t want to wait for improvement, they just want McQuaid to go. Greg LeMond has said this out loud and he’s part of a chorus, the other day Jaimie Fuller, Chairman of Skins, a clothing company, has said similar things and there are petitions galore going around. With phrases like “You are the epitome of the word corruption” it’ll be interesting to see if LeMond gets invited to a Swiss court.

LeMond says we should boycott our national federations but I’m not so sure. If you are concerned by all of this then the first thing is to speak to your local federation and ask them what they’re doing on your behalf. If they don’t listen then up to you.

Either way there are growing public calls for resignation, even the mainstream media are attacking the UCI. LeMond’s letter resonates with many, whether it’s his passionate tone or just the cold content.  But does anyone – the UCI included – have a plan for the future?

It’s here that things are hard. I’m not saying LeMond should have a plan, after all his letter is bold enough. It’s more than any plans are hard to put in place. The UCI isn’t a company where shareholders can sack the board. It’s not a government where the people can eject the leaders. It’s more a club that’s not really ever had to think too hard about accountability or openness, it’s been too busy running the sport to question how it runs itself. And it’s not the kind of place where the leaders want to give up their jobs easily, the resulting loss of face would mean they’d likely get the cold shoulder from the IOC and other circles, it’s not like they’d coast into better paid work. So whilst we know what we don’t want and we might have ideas for the future, it’s the gap in between that seems impossible to navigate. Maybe it takes a good leader to take the sport forward?

101 thoughts on “Greg LeMond’s Letter to The UCI”

  1. So are you saying that kicking out McQuaid is something we should be careful about wishing for because there’s no plan for how the UCI can go forward?

    Either McQuaid is part of the festering corruption that has besmirched cycling, or he is not. If he is then he should go. Period. If that means a period of chaos and crisis during which those who love the game figure out a way in which the UCI can heal itself, then so be it.

    I’ve just read Betsy Andreu’s account of how she was harassed and bullied by Armstrong over many years because of what she knew about his drug taking, and it made my blood boil. And the fact that McQuaid and others went out of their way to protect this thug is unconscionable.

      • The question is – is a change in the governance of cycling required or is it just the way that professional cycling is controlled that needs to be brought up to date? As I don’t compete myself I can’t comment on the amateur side of competitive cycling but there do seem to be a lot of parallels with motoring and motor sport, where the FIA do a good job on road safety and motoring initiatives but (under Ballestre) were a disaster regarding the professional side. Much as I dislike the man, cycling needs an Ecclestone to control the professional side while the UCI can continue to play their amateur role. Vaughters, Brailsford, LeMond? There must be candidates.

        • Unless there was a revolution, that broke the professional side away from the UCI (and there may be, if problems persist), it is probably safer to work on the assumption that the existing structures can be coerced in some way, and identify what the best way to do that is.

          One immediate solution, in vogue currently among several sports, notably cricket, is the introduction of independent directors and chairman, appointed to (and by) the board or management committee for their expertise, for a fixed term. Thus providing an element of continuity across elections (though that isn’t really a UCI problem), diminishing the power of national voting blocs, and improving basic transparency and governance. It is also a relatively easy constitutional reform, because it involves nothing more than adding members to the executive board ad/or management committee.

          • Just to complete a triptych of Guardian readers, I feel I must say that Tovarishsh’s scenario of professional breakaway is the only one feasible. It would take a wannabe Little Bern to do it – not necessarily someone who wants to make millions, but someone with influence, public visibility and moneyed backers. The list is short, and they’d need to negotiate the support of ASO (at least) before making a move.
            Russ’s idea of reform is less viable in the crucial court of public opinion, because for the majority, the UCI is already hanged. Your parallel with cricket underplays the problem of doping having been so widespread that it’s difficult to find many possible candidates who are a) clean, b) willing AND c) with the contacts. Pakistan cricket after the spot-fixing is closer to cycling’s dilemma. Who to trust?

  2. Which is the lead petition? Could somebody post it? I’ve seen a very poorly worded one which I don’t think cuts it.

    Plus Inrng – what would your utopia be?

    Follow a model of Premier League? Splitting TV rights amongst teams?
    Seperate doping from the UCI? (surely a must)
    Re-jig the President and those around them election rules, taking a leaf out of the Olympics federation’s book?
    Drafting like in American sports?
    A clearer, shorter, smaller Calender.
    Look to ASO for leadership?
    Open Radio’s in Peleton? Like F1

    Rip it all up and get Lemond, Vaughters and Millar in charge!

    • It’s impossible to implement a Premier League model on cycling (and it’s only road cycling we’re talking about) in it’s current form purely because no one organisation owns the rights to all cycling. The closest thing to the PL in cycling is ASO who own the biggest race and a number of smaller ones but RCS own the Giro and ASO only own half of the Vuelta. ASO get all the TV rights from the Tour, not the UCI.

      The UCI can’t promise to do anything with TV rights except for the Worlds (where team shares would be pretty much irrelevant) and for the Chinese races which they own. ASO on the other hand look even less welcome to change than the UCI so don’t expect them to increase prize money or give any more to teams than they have to because they know that a team’s entire sponsorship deal is pretty much dependent on the fact that the team will be at the Tour.

      As it stands, I can’t see how cycling can really move forwards without some kind of Premier League style breakaway from the teams (where they own and run races and split proceeds accordingly) but that will never happen because it won’t include the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta or any of the major monuments. It’s a tough situation and there seems to be no clear way forward but I agree that lopping off the head of an organisation just because we don’t like what we have, without knowing what we actually want, is a recipe for disaster.

    • I keep meaning to write a piece called “why we need the UCI” but events keep deterring me. In short I’d like a wise UCI that welcomes transparency and where the senior officials inspire others and where the governing body sticks to what it is good and it has clear mechanisms in place to address conflicts of interest or rider donations etc. We can’t expect perfection but there are some improvements possible.

      • Inner Ring, you are wishing for a better institution. Others are wishing for better people (leadership). It takes better people (leadership) to make a better institution. The leadership of the UCI needs to change immediately. The credibility of the institution requires it.

        You are correct in believing that there is a risk in changing leadership. The result could be a worse outcome or it could be a better outcome. No change however is a dead end.

  3. Interesting indeed to see the mainstream UK media getting involved – Channel 4 ran something on the TdF route announcement. Not amazingly informed with questions to Wiggins and Froome about competing with and sitting next to Contador, but perhaps reflective of how the sport appears to complete outsiders – “how can you race with, and even sit next to, someone who has been done for doping?”

    Froome’s response that he didn’t get to chose the seating plan is perhaps as illuminating.

  4. Well said Greg, as long as Fat Pat and the other snout in the trough Hein remain, cycling will get nowhere and nobody will believe anything has changed!!

  5. Lemond is right as usual but that won’t bother McQuaid much. He will sit it out. Even if the UCI gets rid of McQuaid (bad press is bad for business), nothing much will change. What would change things is proof of corruption. By the police. Something to do with swiss banks maybe. But how likely is that?

    P.S. Vaughters and Millar in charge? Oh my god.

  6. Nice piece but I think you should also mention some of the hastily written and poorly worded e-mails and press releases that emanate from Aigle every so often. That there is no clear strategy for their outward communications is unsurprising as there seems to be no clear strategy for the UCI in general, apart from the ‘more is good’ mantra.

    As you say, it’s easy to say what you think is wrong, but true innovation is needed to deliver a blueprint for the UCI to follow. Are there other sports out there we should be looking at?

    The notion that replacement leads to improvement is a knee-jerk reaction to something distasteful. A coherent alternative with clear and achievable roadmaps to implementing change is what’s needed. I believe it is incumbent on the ASO, the teams and other race organisers to demand changes. For once, let the dog wag the tail.

  7. Even the Australian mainstream media are getting involved, usually Clarke & Dawe send up an Aussie political figure by name each week. Little wary of swiss courts this week

    I want I change in the UCI, at the international and australian level, but don’t want to stop racing for a year, because I enjoy it and what it would do to my local club, if enough people stopped for a year.

  8. Speaking as an lawyer, the letter as a whole and in particular the following paragraph,

    “You can read all about Webster’s definition of corruption. If you want I can re-post my attorney’s response to your letter where you threaten to sue me for calling the UCI corrupt. FYI I want to officially reiterate to you and Hein that in my opinion the two of your represent the essence of corruption.”

    reads as an attempt to provoke the UCI/Fat Pat/ Hein the Nein in to bringing a lawsuit against LeMond in the same vein as the Landis and Kimmage lawsuits. It would be nice to think that LeMond has a smoking gun that could see the removal of Fat Pat and Hein the Nein and he is seeking the opportunity to use it, although sadly I doubt this is the case.

    • Worzel,

      I was thinking along the same lines- at least that LeMond’s letter might serve as fodder for a UCI slander suit a la Kimmage. It had not dawned on me that he might actually be attempting to provoke such. At very least, he is attempting to provoke something, perhaps a groundswell of mixed-media voices calling for Pat’s departure.
      I just wrote last night that Mr. LeMond is actually the reason I got into bike racing. I hold him in high regard.
      I do wish he had someone (my vote for INRNG) assist him in editing his missive. Who said it- “A well-place semi-colon is better than sex.” (I should note that I have never been able to personally verify the veracity of that statement).

      • Maybe, but not when your father is currently the focus of the worlds sporting media and under such scrutiny. Making suggestive remarks via twitter isn’t the best way to deflect attention. Mind you we know from Pat that the McQuaids are not exactly brainboxes.

        • therein the problem…
          …’to be fair’ does not exist when your father is making decisions that can have direct benefit detriment to your clients.
          …but he leaves the room so everything is cool then

  9. I was thinking about it.
    Obviously I don’t know everything, many people including Greg don’t know everything.
    If I had a vote between McQ and “a somebody else”, I might vote that somebody else, but might not.
    I don’t think McQ is the biggest problem with cycling.

    What I really would want not to happen is the breakaway league with its boring “sameformat” races, and the current top teams given fixed place at the pro cycling table.

  10. Along those lines, pls have a look at my letter to Brian Cookson ( of British Cycling. Pls. feel free to borrow whatever you deem useful but make sure your voice is heard.

    Dear Brian,

    I moved to the UK four years ago and have witnessed the situation for cyclists in this country improve beyond recognition. While much work remains to be done, I have been impressed w/ BC’s role in driving change from grassroots cycling to the highest levels of professional competition. I am writing to you today to ask that the same focus and commitment to change for the better also be extended to cycling’s central governing body, the UCI.

    While I – like many fans around the world – welcomed the UCI recognizing USADA’s decision in the Lance Armstrong case, I was disappointed to see a crucial opportunity lost to decisively advance the fight against doping though leadership, integrity and transparency. Rather than accepting that the fight against doping is far from won, the UCI – like many members of the pro peloton – instead reverted to communication mechanisms that we unfortunately know all too well: an inability to recognize own responsibility and a labeling of any issue as a problem of the distant past.

    Is it really? It is fascinating to watch even athletes who I feel are committed to cleaning up the sport refer to the issue of systematic doping as something that occurred 10-15 years ago. I find this remarkable in light of the fact that:

    • the USADA report provides convincing evidence of Lance Armstrong using blood doping all the way up to 2010
    • the 2010 winner of the tour the de France was stripped of his title
    • many of the “stars” of the peloton are convicted dopers but do not show an ounce of remorse
    • many of the old guard continue to exert enormous influence on the sport in the team either as DS or in coaching or advisory roles
    • most of those caught for anti-doping violations are actually members of the younger generation rather than the old guard
    • until very, very recently many in the pro peloton continued to work w/ Dr. Ferrari, cycling’s very own super villain
    • the investigation in Padua has the potential for further catastrophic revelations

    Whichever way you turn it, these issues hardly indicate that the fight against doping is anywhere close to being won (I do readily acknowledge the progress that has been made). Those who deeply care about the sport have witnessed doe-eyed cyclists lie once too many and the old communication patterns fail to impress either the public or the committed sponsors that the sport so desperately needs.

    I am often baffled that those who ask the uncomfortable questions or who call for radical change are accused as traitors or of putting the nail into the coffin of cycling. Clearly, professional cycling is not in a good spot and change is desperately needed. Rather than lamenting how cycling is singled out for its doping problem (which is, of course, partially true) why not acknowledge the past and position cycling at the forefront of the fight against doping. I can think of no better way of attracting both the public and sponsors. The UCI undoubtedly has a crucial role to play.

    W/ that in mind I ask you to push for the following:

    a) a thorough review of the UCI’s role in the fight against doping by an independent commission. I will not join in the general clamor & ask for either Hein Verbruggen’s or Pat McQuaid’s head. However, should such a review produce evidence of either neglect or collusion, those in charge should be asked to step down from their current positions.
    b) implementation of statutes of governance that stress accountability and transparency
    c) a clear and clearly articulated strategy to continue the fight against doping. I would expect such a strategy to be comprehensive in focusing not just on riders but all actors (teams, doctors, sponsors, event organizers, governing bodies) in professional cycling. I would expect such a strategy to be inclusive in working w/ the various actors (e.g. WADA, USADA) rather than to be dominated by senseless in-fighting. And, finally, I would expect such a strategy to include a clear commitment towards PR and communications because the current approach that is both inconsistent and spiteful isn’t getting the job done
    d) a recognition that female riders are NOT 2nd class participants in the sport. Anyone who has witnessed the wonderful drama of either the women’s Olympic Road Race or the World Championship in Limburg would agree that these impressive athletes deserve to take center stage alongside their male colleagues. From a commercial perspective, I believe that the story of women’s cycling is an exciting one that can attract both media coverage and sponsorship w/ the right commitment.
    e) a recognition that the UCI’s dual role as the central governing body and a commercial promoter of events is both unethical and counter-productive. Indeed, in a business environment a situation where an organization is both regulator and competitor would be considered entirely unacceptable and be brought to the relevant authorities

    Brian, too much is at stake and too little has been achieved. I am calling on you to forcefully call for change. Thank you for giving the matter the attention it deserves.

    I would be very happy to discuss at any time.

    Best Regards,

    Christoph Pleitgen (#725907)

    • A good piece. Whilst the UCI say they’ve done all they can with testing, this implies that the collection of blood and urine samples is anti-doping when it should just be a part of things. Too often the UCI has threatened people who spoke out and riders to this day are worried about coming forward for fear it could harm their career.

      • On that note (if at a slight tangent) glad to see Marcel Kittel publicly denouncing recent rider comments on Twitter “I feel SICK when I read that Contador, Sanchez & Indurain still support Armstrong. How does someone want to be credible by saying that?!”

        He can, unsurprisingly, add Valverde into that mix too. May other pros follow his example and denounce such nonsense!

      • About riders being worried to come forward, McQuaid this week labeled Landis and Hamilton “scumbags.” Consider that Landis and Hamilton are witnesses in the PENDING USADA proceeding against Johan Bruyneel et al. Since UCI will eventually be called upon to ratify or appeal the decision in this proceeding, McQuaid’s statement concerning these witnesses demonstrates that he is incompetent to objectively evaluate the evidence that will underpin this decision. Further, put yourself in the position of Landis or Hamilton, who may be called to testify as witnesses in the Bruyneel arbitration: How would you feel as a witness on the witness stand if you knew that the judge of the “court of appeals” had already labeled you a “scumbag,” and in Landis’ case, had sued you for defamation? So whether or not McQuaid can/should be removed as president of the UCI, he definitely should be removed from further participation in the pending USADA proceeding.

  11. Dutch cycling journalist Ad Pertijs (@adpertijs) actually called for giving extra powers to the UCI, and to stop the (from his perspective) angry mob attitude towards McQuaid and Verbruggen. I cannot find his opinion piece online (it was published in paper last Friday or Saturday I believe), but since it is good to hear an opposing voice I’ll try to summarise his points. His view is that currently teams have too much power, together with ASO (organisers of the Tour, among other races). Those parties seemingly have no intention to change, or move towards a cleaner sport. At the very least we can be sure Katusha (Ekimov, ex-USPS) and Astana (Vino) have zero incentive to do so (but the Italian case highlights another 20 teams somewhat comfy with how things are now) (this sentence is my addition). The UCI should be the main driving force towards change and be given the power to set the rules without a constant power struggle that undermines how effective the UCI can be. The UCI has limited (financial) means compared to teams and big organisers such as ASO. Essentially beheading the UCI would move power to teams (many of which have shown little sense of a moral compass, nor willingness to change) and ASO (who retracted their stronger stance from 5 years ago). He defends McQuaid’s efforts in this power struggle. In short, Pertijs makes the same case as in this article: ejecting UCI officials just adds to the ‘body count,’ but not necessarily moves things forward.

    I agree on Pertijs’ views regarding the UCI, but I think the current people in charge cannot bring about the required shedding of skin for the UCI. I guess much public criticism deals with that they hope the UCI to making sweeping changes, if only…

    • Sounds like a good read. I’ve written before how we need the UCI and keep wanting to do an update to explain why the governing body is vital but as mentioned in the comments above, sometimes it’s hard to get excited by the UCI right now, plus there are plenty of other stories and thoughts. I’ll try to get back this because my ideas overlap a bit with Pertijs and the act of writing it down makes me think about it more.

  12. I’m astonished that there doesn’t appear to be a professional bike racer’s union.

    ATP (Association of Tennis professionals) changed tennis and they now run their sport in conjunction with the ITF (international Tennis Federation) and making sure they have proper representation in the governance of their sport.

    I know it will be difficult, but they need to have their own voice and representation. If they all agreed a plan and stuck to it they could get changes implemented.

    It’s need a charismatic figure to effect change though – someone like a Jimmy Hill or a Billy Jean King who can motivate the riders and inspire them enough to stand up to the establishment

  13. As always you can rely on Inner Ring to bring balance and reason to the debate, not that I want to knock other commentators. I have been one to climb aboard the ‘sack McQuaid’ bandwagon, and still want him to go. But reading this blog helps reveal that you can not see everything in black and white.

    • Thanks.

      I didn’t want to knock the letter and hope people don’t read the piece like that. It’s more we could find red-handed corruption and a smoking gun but even then those in the UCI are almost glued into their jobs. And were the leaders to go, inviting a competent replacement is no easy task either.

  14. One “small” line recently resonated with me seemingly far more than most due to not seeing any comments on any forum is this text from Armstrong to McQuaid prior to the UCI press conference. In my opinion, that was an intimidation text/call. McQuaid then calls him back right away. Basically forcing McQuaid to tell Lance personally what he was going to do. (my dialogue) LA: “are you sure you want to do this?”, “what’s it going to be McQuaid?”, and McQuaid says (literally) “I can’t say”. Like, man, “you have no power here or over me anymore”. “You don’t own me Armstrong”. Because Lance is “over it” right? He’s “moved on”. But does Lance have a card on McQuaid? It’s so sordid. Then for McQuaid to make public knowledge of it I thought was interestingly unncessary. Sort of so everyone knows in case he’s found with cement shoes at the bottom of whatever river’s near Aigle. I may be watching too much MI5. 🙂

  15. @INRNG, I think that at this stage of the “Revolution” there does not need to be a plan. Right now the masses are moving to tear down the establishment without much care of how it is done or who takes its place.

    There are of course those behind the scenes, plotting and scheming the succession once (if) the power vacuum appears, but they are of course, and smartly so, not visible at this stage.

    Thus worrying about who? what? and how? at this time is not as crucial as when?, and if?

    UCI may remain as it is, and you are using some language often used to describe UCI’s approach to dialogue: entrenched and stubborn. They survived and succeeded in pushing through many unwanted and unsavory initiatives using these two approaches. Perhaps that UCI philosophy of “we own cycling” and “we are cycling” is at a fanatical level, offering a solid shield against reason.

  16. “plenty don’t want to wait for improvement, they just want McQuaid to go”

    Aren’t we way past that at this stage? How many more chances does McQuaid get?

    There needs to be total reform of the UCI, not just taking Pat + Hein out of the equation. If McQuaid stays then nothing will change. If he somehow gets dislodged then at least there will be a chance that things will get better.

  17. Your comment about the Federations is very interesting, but when my cycle club/race team made comments we felt their wrath rather than their support.

    So we put up a few blog posts and made a few badges joking about how boring the UCI is. We take cycling seriously but like to have a joke too, as we are cyclo cross riders.

    British Cycling called our club secretary and got pretty angry on the phone. They said “We know it is there and we advise you to take the ‘We are so bored with the UCI blog post down, as British Cycling is part of the UCI.”
    Our club secretary explained he’s not making a statement about the UCI or what they have or haven’t done or BC, just an opinion of something, our mood. You can be bored with Eastenders, you can be bored with the BBC or the fact the trains are late.
    We’re just bored.

    The chap on the end of the phone said “Well, we are just letting you know, we have seen it, we advise you to take it down.”

    We are not taking it down.

    On our Federations website they have made no mention of the USADA case or any statements to show us that they are committed to anti-doping and that culture.
    So in actual fact, our Federation, British Cycling doesn’t really care about its members opinion, it make a point of making a threatening phonecall to shut us up.

    It doesn’t really fill us with confidence.

    Note: Our club website cannot be found via the club pages on the Federation site – you can only find it if you google, so it is quite difficult for other members to find out opinions.

  18. It’s obvious that cycling cannot change or move forward with McQuaid in charge. But Inner Ring has been trying to point out that the next head of the UCI may not be any better and could be much worse. For example, Comrade Igor, who as a member of Putin’s Komanda has what could be called an aggressive way of doing business. We could trade management that is bumbling and corrupt for a leader that is ruthless and corrupt. As his piece ( ) said, be careful what you wish for.

    I think the solution is to form an entirely new system: 1) a breakaway league; 2) a new governing body; and 3) to have the teams band together to force the ASO & RCS to share TV revenues, reducing the pressure on riders and teams to chase sponsorship money every year. Now is the time to tackle cycling’s structural problems.

    • Many parties are calling for the sharing of TV rights as if this is the ultimate cure. Let’s gloss over the fact that most races do not reap significant TV rights, or that many organizers have to pay for the air time and production costs of having their races televised.

      In 2012 there were 18 Pro Teams, 22 Pro Continental Teams, and 153 Continental Teams (according to: Even if rights weren’t shared with the Continental squads, that is 40 slices of the pie. If the TV revenue were just shared between Pro Teams & Wild Card Pro-Conti teams on a per race basis, we are still talking about 22 – 25 slices per event for the teams, and the race organizers need their shares (and they need to be big shares) in order to keep the events going and to justify the entrepreneurial risks.

      Sorry folks, the broadcast rights pies aren’t big enough to make a significant difference to most of of the teams’ stability. Would the extra revenue help? Sure, but it certainly will not make up for the loss of a >5m title sponsor.

      Want to help make the teams more stable? Reduce the costs associated with running them (smaller teams), and take sponsorship requirements down several notches so that sponsoring teams is a viable option for more companies. Stop trying to fix the Pro Tour, a series no one cares about.

      Unless races are organized by the teams (and/or the governing body), you can forget about a true “league” ever happening. If they think they have a hard time attracting sponsors now, just wait until they try to cover the costs of organizing a major event, especially when they won’t be able to pitch the idea to potential sponsors who compete with their team sponsors…

      • Yes, the Tour generates a big surplus but ASO uses this to pay for other races that don’t make much money. Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné for example are big races on the calendar but exist in part because ASO can say “if you want to broadcast/host a stage of Le Tour then you should buy a package with another race.”

        Or put another way, if teams want a slice of the TV rights, will they pay the races on the calendar where the organiser has to pay for TV coverage, often covering the daily production costs at €50-80,000 per day?

  19. To get the sport in order set 1st January 2014 as year zero (tolerance) All teams and riders are made aware of the rules and sign up to the same:-
    2014 should allow all current riders to admit to any previous mis-deeds and be dealt with accordingly.
    Moving forward
    One failed test both A & B samples and the rider is suspended with immediate effect.
    An appeal to the main body and if they want to go to CAS they do not rideagain until a final decision is made.
    1st offence 2 years
    2nd offence 4 years
    3rd offence 8 years
    We would have got rid of Ricco much easier this way
    Lighter sentences for whistleblowing should still be in place.
    In this way at least riders and teams know what the penalty will be.

    The only way to make sure that the issue/problem of drugs is removed from the sport is to take away all the spanish customs i.e. one main body decides on the punishment, not the current farce of each national body making a lame excuse and suspending a rider for a few weeks.

    The various companies like RCS, ASO etc should also contributemore towards a clean sport and help fund an independent testing lab as at present they make a lot of money off the back of the riders.

    Team contracts should also include a clause that if you are caught doping and found guilty your contract is terminated – all salary paid back to the team and prize money goes to the anti doping lab – not to the next placed rider – this may help as you are really cheating your fellow pros out of money!
    Banned doctors are banned doctors if you get caught paying, visiting, communicating or training with one then that is your first strike.

    The situation with the UCI will not be solved overnight. A sensible solution would be to plan towards 2014. Give Pat and Hein a chance to say their goodbyes and close thire Swissbank accounts and ride off into the sunset with full panniers!
    Whatever replaces the current set up should include a cross section of ex riders and business professionals and at least one person who know what PR stands for and please make sure womens racing gets a voice too. It should not in any way influence the testing lab.

    Just imagine how many more sponsors will be attracted to a clean sport where all of the participants are singing from the same hymn sheet and are well aware of what happens to anyone who makes an error of judgement.

    • “One failed test both A & B samples and the rider is suspended with immediate effect.
      An appeal to the main body and if they want to go to CAS they do not rideagain until a final decision is made.
      1st offence 2 years
      2nd offence 4 years
      3rd offence 8 years
      We would have got rid of Ricco much easier this way
      Lighter sentences for whistleblowing should still be in place.
      In this way at least riders and teams know what the penalty will be.”

      Under those rules Ricco would currently be banned for 4 years rather than the 12 he actually is banned for though?

      • I’d advocate 4 years for the first (i’d sooner see life bans, but as we’ve seen with the likes of Zabriskie’s sad testimony to USADA, while it’s the rider that had the drugs in his body, it can be the team that’s put the syringe in his hand) which would be far more of a deterrent. Second offence is 10 years, so career effectively over.

        Ricco is lucky to even be alive given what he did.

  20. I liken it very much to the IOC in the past, and FIFA now, not in scale but in structure, where no matter how much you may hate Quaid and Verbruggen simply getting them to resign isn’t the solution. I would like to see neither involved in cycling – just as Blatter and the likes of Havelange before him have had their dirty claws in the game for decades and will never change, the same is true in the UCI – but who replaces them? I’d like to think the UCI isn’t as universally cronyish or corrupt from top to bottom as FIFA, (the lack of money probably prevents that) but simply getting them to go may not be the answer.

    The saddest thing of all is that if they could actually understand and listen to the views of everyone from the peloton, the unions, riders, teams, journalists, and the fans and do something about it rather than sit in an ivory tower and trot out the same tired quotes about ‘looking to the future’ and ‘cleaning up cycling’ then we’d have a chance.

    As it is, we’re f***ed either way really.

  21. Question for Inrng or anyone else:

    When you’re banned do you (and/or the team) lose your World Series points? Because if not that would be a deterrent and a half, if the team ended up losing their status because of that surely?

    • You lose the points earned whilst doping. So if it’s proved a rider doped in the Tour de France, they’d lose the points for what they confessed or gained after the positive test.

      Points for the teams are based on the past two years so normally a returning rider has zero points.

      There’s a rule where returning riders cannot earn points either but this might be under appeal as it’s a punishment above and beyond the two year ban.

      • However, the UCI don’t actually base renewals on actual points totals do they? Aren’t they decided on ‘sporting value’ so in essence, even though Saxo Bank wouldn’t be getting points for Contador they may still get a renewal because he adds ‘sporting value’ to the team.

        As far as I can see, that’s the UCIs way of making renewal’s discretionary. The rules seems as vague as ever…

  22. One thing missing in the discussion about preventing doping is applying some of the consequence to the team. A DS can tell his riders to come “prepared to race” and all that implies…and when they are caught out, the team faces no real consequence other than maybe some bad press. The DS will proclaim “shock” and fire the rider, but the team is left off the hook.

    If a team lost their place in the ProTour (or whatever division they currently ride) or lost its place in the next five ProTour events for a doping offence of one of their riders, then rider and team may be more aligned not to tolerate doping.

    • Absolutely, hence the question about do teams lose tour points. I would guess this isn’t the case as it’s the ‘you’re responsible for what’s in your body’ premise with doping, but we’ve seen with Festina, USPS and Puerto, that this clearly isn’t the case.

    • I agree but it’s difficult. Often when a rider is caught the “lone wolf” excuse is used but sometimes the team managers know exactly what happened. Sometimes it is also a failure of the team not to offer support, riders should not be seeing doctors outside the team because this is a damning failure of the team to offer support and coaching. Imagine joining one of the world’s best teams only to find you don’t get training advice – teams should step up and offer everything to convince the rider to do the right thing rather than just expecting them to turn up for a race and be competitive.

      Sometimes pro cycling can be so amateur.

      • I still think there should be team punishments for doping. Maybe escalating punishments. That would create peer pressure to ride clean. If suddenly Pierre, John, Iban and Franco are suffering because Peter doped, believe me the body of riders would suddenly become a bit less forgiving.

        What do you bet that if a team got punished for the doping of its riders (significantly, like full ejection from the race or stripping all the team members of results, points, and hopefully cash) you reduce the willingness to shelter behind the omerta? We keep saying that cycling is a team sport – make it so. Many teams now split the winner’s pot, so if he’s doping and making money for everyone, there’s little incentive to root that out.

        And maybe in that case teams would actually put a bucketload of antidoping systems internally. As opposed to, you know, turning a blind eye. And yes, some innocents would suffer from it – well, many riders in other teamss suffer when they lose to dopers.

        • I fully agree. Put pressure on the teams to discourage doping and/or even control their riders above and beyond the regular testing. Reverse the peer pressure. The ‘lone wolf’ excuse is nonsense. Employers can often be held responsible for the (professional) actions of their employees, even if they did not know about them. Because they should have known about them. Poor organisation is the crime, not the excuse.
          There should of course be exceptions for e.g. when a team suspects a rider, alerts the authorities and helps getting him caught. Right now, such a scenario is unthinkable. With sufficient team penalties, that could become reality.
          INRNG, what’s difficult about it? If this rule is announced to be in effect from, say Jan 2014, teams have the time to hire doctors, coaches, private investigators and what else they need to keep their riders off the dope. If they don’t, let them suffer the consequences.

          • It’s difficult because it’s collective punishment. A determined cheat could blow the whole team out of the sport. A team can do all they can but they don’t have the budgets sometimes to even have proper coaching staff yet alone investigators.

          • And that’s the nub of it really. It’s hard to be equivocal that it’s the team’s fault as it can be a ‘lone wolf’. Say Garmin, who are about as anti-doping as they come, get a new rider in that’s clean and signed up to their code, but then decides to dope, in isolation, for reasons that, even though he knows what they’re about, he chooses to ignore, then tests positive at his first big race, then the team being thrown out would be rough justice. There’s no common scenario.

            But at least the teams losing the rider’s points is going to hurt them. Hopefully we’ll see a better future where teams that are serious about fighting doping will both put themselves in a position where they know who all the doctors are, there’s no unapproved treatments, and anyone that’s suspicious will be reported to the UCI and their federation. The only sympathy I have for the UCI is that teams and riders need to also police themselves. The Armstrong/USPS case certainly was ignored, but on the flipside, there are instances where a doper is known to people in the team and the sport, but the UCI is in the dark. They can’t do everything, however much we may hate McQuaid and Verbruggen. The sport cleaning itself up is EVERYONE’s responsiblity.

  23. I think it’s part and parcel that Greg is trying to get Pat McQuaid to sue him. Paul Kimmage certainly didn’t have the resources in the beginning to defend himself and McQuaid and Verbruggen winning that lawsuit sends the message to other journalists not to write negative stories about the UCI.

    On the other hand, LeMond is in the position to defend himself and I can’t imagine that McQuaid and Verbruggen would like to see witnesses called if they did end up in court with LeMond. In the end, this open letter drives home the point about what the Paul Kimmage defamation case is really about. Greg certainly seems to have had enough and is calling them out.

  24. Respond to Guy H 5:19:

    I assume the team loses the points – that is the story with Contador and Saxo Bank. You loose the points and I think You can not score points for Your team in the next two years. (Maybe Inner Ring can verify this.)

    Back to general:

    UCI is like the mystic figure if cut of one head two will grow instead, so it takes Hercules to soll the problem. Which are next big guys in line, should Pat take/loose his head.

    Coming to think of the new generation of team managers:

    I guess the only thing to loose for road racing is the participation in the olympics, as UCI is connected to IOC. If road racing would go say like ASO organised.



    • An equally applicable Herculean analogy would be the cleaning of the Augean Stables. Can we temporarily divert the Rhone through the “Aiglean Stable” perhaps?

  25. Couple of points:

    1) Surely LeMond is the USA’s ONLY Tour de France champion?

    2) Re. Daniel’s comment: Personally, I think that a ban should affect the whole team, not only the rider who is caught. So often, convicted dopers who decide to come clean cite protecting their team-mates’ jobs (and those of the wider team, e.g., soigneurs, mechanics) is a major factor in them denying everything. That argument can be flipped on its head if the rules instead stated that the team of a rider who tests positive will be punished (i.e., thrown off the current tour, banned from the current year’s grand tours, or somesuch). This would also prevent the team being able to blame a ‘rogue’ rider. In this sense, the way that doping cases are handled by teams is similar to News International’s handling of the phone hacking scandal. There, too, an institutional problem was blamed on a black sheep. It is clear that the teams continue to, at best, turn a blind eye to their riders suspect practises; yet if the teams themselves were threatened with punishment they might be incentivised to ensure their riders were clean.

    3) Whilst he often makes sensible statements, I didn’t think Millar’s criticisms of Rabobank’s withdrawal were merited. As far as I can see, there is little hope that the sport will clean itself up until doping starts to make a real impact on teams’ financing. When that happens, it will, again, be in the teams’ own interests to keep their own stable clean.

  26. the uci has indeed made mistakes. however, the cheats, let us not forget, were/are the teams and riders. the real culprits are very happy to have the conversation centred on the uci.
    tough new rules are surely the only answer.
    eg, no one with a history of doping can ever run a team, with immediate effect.
    caught doping, 4yrs
    caught again, life ban.
    more testing, because cheating will carry on, there’s money involved.

  27. Oleg Tinkov came out and criticized Pat but his own team is one of the most suspicious (doping DS, doping star rider). This seems like a sign that someone will leverage the public anti-Pat sentiment to install their own corrupt puppet dictator (and not to pick on one group, but the Russians seem to have plenty to choose from with histories of corruption).

  28. “For example it’s taken years to get the story on the Armstrong donations.”
    That is interesting work by Dr. Ashenden. And we still don’t have the story – not even close. There is one thing I would add. According to Dr. Ashenden’s chronology, McQuaid places the $100,000 payment from Armstrong in or around May 2006. The Emile Vrijman Report was released at the end of May or first of June 2006. We thus have two payments by Armstrong: (1) $25,000 in May 2002 in connection with a “suspicious” epo test result and a meeting with lab personnel; and (2) $100,000 in or around May 2006 concurrent with the release of the Vrijman Report.
    As inring has noted, Vrijman was a friend of Verbruggen.
    This chrolology of payments and relationships stinks to high heaven and I certainly hope that Mr. Kimmage can use it in his defense.

  29. Like Raceradio says, Always back Lemond.
    How many court cases has he won? All of them. Even when he was blackmailed in the Landis case he still had the strength to come straight out with it.

    Pat doesn’t stand a chance if he sues him and he knows it.

  30. Solution is simple in concept, extremely difficult to execute in the real world:
    Separate organisation to run pro-cycling.
    The UCI just doesn’t have the skills, charter or common sense to deal with it and it is strangling a golden goose. They have had their chance and proved unable to deliver. Petty politics and even pettier people have ruined the ideals. By & large track & amateur cycling going much better than 20 years ago, and have more right than wrong with them.
    We all seem to agree that Pro-cycling is the issue; it is fundamentally compromised as it is riddled with conflicts of vested interest. We all agree with Lemonds sentiments the majority of people in the UCI do not go to work there to do bad job, they are extremely poorly lead.
    Separate organisation chartered to administer promote & run pro-cycling, it needs to be transnational. They deal with the ASO’s & race organisers of the world; calendar, joint promotion of the sport (not individual races such as China); transparent consistent structured licensing for Teams; pool TV licensing & other revenues, investment in anti-doping, the issue the rider license (not federations) minimum contracts for riders, accreditation process for all roles within teams. Not just riders who need to be sanctioned for positive tests, Team has to be punished as well. (Yes it is a negative incentive)
    A totally separate & independent drug testing organisation, that just looks after the Pro scene. Run under WADA, their guidelines completely independent of national federations & UCI. A defined “judgment” calendar with 2 step process, their test result with appeal & final say with CAS. (Justice delayed is justice denied none of this Clenbutaor rubbish)
    UCI should charter a panel of smart people to build this, nominations would be Bob Stapleton, Brailsford, David Millar, Prudomme, Clerq & Vaughters, perhaps a couple of the key people from long term sponsors such Lquigas, FDJ & Rabobank (?). It needs management expertise, skill & professionals who have a clear charter to make decisions and respond quickly & decisively (not with another committee), they look after the totality of the “product” pro-cycling.
    By the way Pat FIFA may have billions in the bank but they were a mess 30-40 years ago and have managed to muddle through and build on “the beautiful game” you, your mate Hein & predecessors have presided over the long term decline of a sport that used to span the globe. Whilst we are all despairing turning to anger of the Armstrong scandal, he built on the breakthroughs of Lemonds, Phil Anderson, & the British beachhead of guys who reopened the western world’s eye to cycling and gave us a glimpse of how it could return to those heights.
    Pat this festered and emerged on your & Hein’s watch, you wrote your own eulogy when you reeled off the scandals that have emerged whilst on your term as president. Remember whist you have pointed the finger, three times as many point straight back. Not a Chinese, JFK or fancy spin Doctors saying, my Grandmothers, she would clip you ears and put you back in place something shocking for what you have done to the sport you were entrusted with the temporary guardianship of.
    Shame on both of you, why don’t you just get on your own bike and just go.
    Apologies for the speed spelling.

  31. Maybe Lance has the smoking gun…?

    Just doesn’t seem like him to walk away quietly, so I’m guessing it wouldn’t be beyond the guy to have some seriously bad ass weapons to fire as he goes down…

    Just sayin.

  32. According to reports and his actions, it doesn’t seem like Pat is the smartest or most principalled bloke but… does he really want to go into court with a guy who can and will be able to dredge up some seriously embarrassing information?

    Klimmage is a very loose unit, in the sense that he is smart and possibly has some information that may even bring about a fraud investigation of the UCI. What has Klimmage go to lose? If I were advising Pat I’d highly recommend taking Klimmage on in open court.

    Imagine the situation where Pat McQuaid goes into court at the start of the case a free man but is walked out at the end by police investigating fraud, etc.?

  33. Interesting background articles from 1999 to 2003 with the same questions asked, what is going on with dopers and regulators in the sport?

    Butcher, P. (1999, Jul 24). A strain too great for mortal men? Cycling: Financial Times.
    Overview: What do you do when team members are involved in a doping scandal? Give money to a foundation and be heroes for your charitable works.
    Jonathan, E. K. (2001). Tour de lance: American attemps to win third tour de france amid a swirl of controversy. Europe, (407), 47-48
    Overview: When accused of doping in 2001, Lance assures us that the French are being cynical and disillusioned against his greatness and the sport because the French sponsored nothing in those past few years but druggies and average riders in their tours. He educates us by a phone interview from Spain where he is training by saying Spain and Italy do not have the obsessions of who is taking drugs as they do in France.
    Wheatcroft, G. (2003, Oct 03). No hill too high in the battle over drug taking Geoffrey wheatcroft friday viewpoint. Financial times.
    Overview: In 2003, Wheatcroft asks, what is Lance doing with Dr Michele Ferrari a doping doctor in Italy and why does the UCI resent WADA’s reports?

  34. Does anyone have a plan for for the future?

    There’s no shortage of great ideas for what the future should look like. What’s needed is a pathway from where the UCI is now, to where it should be. How can the current fiefdom be turned into a transparent, accountable organisation, which governs the sport fairly and effectively for all riders?

    First up, find a place to start. We’re currently planning to take the following steps:
    1) Collect some constructive, simple to implement ideas to improve cycling, which have been put forward by those in the know.
    2) Ask fans and club riders, throughout countries where cycling is popular, to support the ideas.
    3) Let club riders know ways of holding their National Feds and the UCI accountable for putting those ideas into practice. For example, accountability could be improved by club riders either voting for change OR withdrawing membership, provided the federation is told membership is being withdrawn in protest.

    Even one improvement within the UCI, coupled with a small increase in the number of club riders who understand the UCI is ultimately accountable to them, would be a step in the right direction. Then someone with another idea can add another step. Riders on different teams collude to launch attacks, one after the other, to crack a stronger opponent. Why not try a similar trick?

  35. Greg is correct about the boyoctt. lance didnt act alone. Thim Weisel and Steve Johnson were the machine that created Lance. Lance may have been the six million dollar man, but without Weisel, who was instrumental in bringing Amgen [public (EPO maker) and also very close ties to the manufactiurer of Actovigen. If you look back, USA Cycling acted identically to the UCI in defending dopers (Lance) from the questions and investigators from France. They need to get out, and get our now. Jim Ochowitz, Steve Johnson, Tom Weisel and even old Eddy B, gather of doping in the US need to go sway. When Weisel took over USA Cycling, he chamged the rules so member riders CAN’T VOTE, so I don’t want to hear that. Get Levi, Hincapie et al Lemond, and create a cycling league until the folks, the corrupt, the money machine get out of USA Cycling and USOC. Many said Lemond was wrong for years, LET’S NOT DO THAT GAIN

  36. McQuaid said on Monday he didn’t turn pro because of the cheating and drug taking back then. So that would mean you have spent the past 40years+ doing NOTHING about it then!

    Hang your head in shame McQuaid.

  37. inrng: you want us to contact USACycling – but it is reasonably apparent on examination that the current structure there is at least as complicit as McQuaid in the coverups and nastiness. I’ve written them, you betcha, but haven’t heard a word back. What are they doing? Apparently nothing.

    I agree with you that we take a risk replacing McQuaid, but McQuaid has repeatedly demonstrated, and continues to demonstrate, that he has no interest in changing anything or really resolving any of the difficulties we face. He does a little tap dance, or a big tap dance, and then goes back to business as usual. What’s the best anti-doping action he has taken? The blood passport, right? Agreed! So what did Ashenden say earlier this year about the current status of that effort?

    The Manifesto for Credible Cycling called for a summit to be held this winter – before the 2013 season. I sure hope they stick by their guns. The UCI board has some members interested in change, but apparently not enough.

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