Friday 26 December 2014

Lance Armstrong slams 'pathetic' UCI chief Pat McQuaid

Matt McGeehan and Martyn Ziegler

Published 30/01/2013 | 16:02

LANCE Armstrong is adamant a truth and reconciliation commission is the only way forward for all endurance sports, not just cycling, saying: "Publicly lynching one man and his team will not solve this problem."













Armstrong recently admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs in winning seven Tour de France titles after being stripped of all results from August 1, 1998 and banned from sport for life.



An independent commission set up by the UCI, cycling's world governing body, to investigate its relationship with Armstrong was recently disbanded in a dispute with the World Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Anti-doping Agency over an amnesty for witnesses.



Armstrong believes such a process is the only way for endurance sport to tackle the spectre of doping.



In an email interview with cyclingnews.com, Armstrong said: "It's not the best way, it's the only way.



"As much as I'm the eye of the storm this is not about one man, one team, one director.



"This is about cycling and to be frank it's about ALL endurance sports.



"Publicly lynching one man and his team will not solve this problem."



In his first interview since his public confession to Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong stated the UCI should not be involved in a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC), which he believes WADA should lead.



Armstrong told Winfrey he would be willing to partake in such an inquiry.



Asked why WADA and not USADA should run the process, Armstrong said: "No brainer. This is a global sport not an American one. One thing I'd add - the UCI has no place at the table.



"When I was on speaking terms with ol' Pat McQuaid (the UCI president) many, many months ago I said, 'Pat, you better think bold here. A full-blown, global, TRC is our sport's best solution.' He wanted to hear nothing of it.



"I'd say that if you are alive today and you podiumed in a WC (World Championships) or Grand Tour then you should be called.



"Sounds ambitious but the authorities have proven that nothing with regards to cycling is time barred."



An amnesty is necessary, Armstrong says, because "otherwise no-one will show up. No-one."



Armstrong painted a bleak picture when asked the alternative to a TRC.



He said: "This current state of chaos and petty b*******, tit for tat, etc, will just insure (sic) that cycling goes flat or negative for a decade plus."



Armstrong did not implicate others in his interview with Winfrey, even though he was asked specifically about his relationship with Dr Michele Ferrari and the UCI.



The Texan did not hide his disdain for McQuaid when asked his thoughts on when the Irishman announced last October that Armstrong had no place in cycling.



He said: "Pat is just in constant CYA (Cover Your Ass) mode. Pathetic."



Armstrong was asked by cyclingnews.com: "Do you feel like you're the fall guy for an entire sport/system?"



His response pointed the finger at numerous generations before him in a statement which could provoke the wrath of the sport's legends and leave him open to legal action.



He said: "Actually, yes I do. But I understand why. We all make the beds we sleep in.



"My generation was no different than any other. The 'help' has evolved over the years but the fact remains that our sport is damn hard, the Tour was invented as a stunt, and very tough mother f****** have competed for a century and all looked for advantages. From hopping on trains a 100 years ago to EPO now.



"No generation was exempt or clean."



Armstrong insisted his wish is "that everyone is treated equally and fairly".



He added: "We all made the mess, let's all fix the mess, and let's all be punished equally."



The decision to scrap the independent inquiry into the Armstrong doping scandal was heavily influenced by the likely financial cost to UCI, it has emerged.



Estimates of the total cost to the governing body were as high as £4million, made up of £3m to run the independent commission and £1m for legal costs, sources have told Press Association Sport.



It is understood that sum would swallow up all the UCI's cash reserves and leaving the governing body needing to cover a shortfall.



WADA has ruled out part-funding any inquiry into cycling, and the UCI also approached the International Olympic Committee to see if it would help financially.



McQuaid announced on Monday the UCI was disbanding the independent commission due to WADA's and USADA's refusal to take part on the basis that witnesses would not be offered an amnesty to testify.



McQuaid has also warned WADA president John Fahey that he will not allow a separate truth and reconciliation commission to bankrupt the UCI.



In an email to Fahey, McQuaid wrote: "While I am committed to a TRC, it absolutely needs to be a process which is in the best interests of cycling and our federation, and also a process which does not bankrupt it."



Fahey had suggested that the UCI should take out a mortgage on the UCI's "extensive property in Aigle with some Swiss Bank if necessary" to come up with the necessary money.



In an email response this week, McQuaid dismissed that suggestion as "facetious and unhelpful".



The UCI's management committee, including British Cycling's president Brian Cookson, will discuss the fall-out from the decision to scrap the commission and its next move at a meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday.



It comes with mounting pressure on the UCI's leadership with WADA accusing them of "deceit and arrogance" for disbanding its inquiry.



The central issue of the inquiry concerned two donations by Armstrong to the governing body, and whether there was any complicity by the UCI in covering up his doping.



It has already been admitted that the UCI warned Armstrong of a "suspicious" blood result in 2001.



McQuaid has hit back at WADA, accusing Fahey of having a "personal vendetta" against cycling.



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