independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

UCI to meet to discuss Lance Armstrong and calls for Pat McQuaid to resign

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 22: UCI President Pat McQuaid leaves a press conference on the UCI position concerning the USADA decision on the Armstrong case on October 22, 2012 in Geneva Switzerland. Cyclist Lance Armstrong has been banned for life and stripped of his Tour de France titles having been accused of leading 'the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen' according to USADA officials. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)

THE embattled International Cycling Union will meet tomorrow to discuss the "exact sporting consequences" of the decision to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles amid calls for president Pat McQuaid to resign.





At this week's route presentation for next summer's 100th Tour, Armstrong's sequence of seven straight wins were marked using asterisks following the United States Anti-Doping investigation which saw the Texan banned for life and stripped of all results since August 1998, a decision the UCI ratified on Monday.



A special meeting of the UCI's management committee will take place tomorrow to discuss whether the 1999 to 2005 Tour titles and prize money will be redistributed, but many believe more direct action is required following a saga which has ripped a hole through the heart of the sport.



In an open letter published on Facebook, Greg LeMond, winner of the 1986, 1989 and 1990 Tours and now the only American winner of the race, was critical of Irishman McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen, who remains honorary president of the organisation.



"I want to tell the world of cycling to please join me in telling Pat McQuaid to resign," LeMond wrote.



"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."



LeMond added his weight to the campaign to support former Sunday Times journalist Paul Kimmage, who is the subject of a defamation suit brought by McQuaid and Verbruggen in Switzerland.



The American has made a donation to the fund to support Kimmage's legal fight, but would prefer money is used to "lobby for real change".



"I would like to use it to lobby for dramatic change in cycling," LeMond added.



"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."



LeMond had long been critical of Armstrong before the Texan was stripped of his seven Tour titles by the UCI on Monday, when McQuaid insisted cycling had a future and stressed his determination to be part of it.



Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen," a 1,000-page USADA report concluded.



The 41-year-old declined the opportunity to cooperate with USADA, but following Monday's ruling removed the reference to his seven Tour wins from his Twitter profile.



Tour director Christian Prudhomme believes no-one should replace Armstrong as winner of the 1999 to 2005 races, as few racing in the era are untainted by the use of performance-enhancing drugs.



The latest to admit doping is Bobby Julich, who was a team-mate of Armstrong's at Motorola and today left his role as Team Sky race coach.



Team Sky reiterated their zero-tolerance approach to the use of performance-enhancing drugs after USADA published their reasoned decision, and Julich could be the first of a number of departures from the British team, home of 2012 Tour winner Bradley Wiggins.



Julich placed third in the 1998 Tour, but has now expressed remorse and hope for the future after revealing he used blood-boosting agent EPO between August 1996 and July 1998.



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