Friday 24 January 2020

UCI committed to independent inquiry

Matt McGeehan

International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid has insisted the world governing body is committed to an independent study of its practices during confessed doper Lance Armstrong's years of dominance.

An independent commission was set up and disbanded by the UCI due to a dispute with the World Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Anti-doping Agency over the application of an amnesty for witnesses.

Yet McQuaid, seeking re-election for a third term as UCI president this year, today reaffirmed his organisation's pledge to thoroughly investigate claims of complicity in Armstrong's doping practices.

In a statement in response to results of the UCI's stakeholder survey, McQuaid said: "I acknowledge that there is still a lot the UCI needs to do to repair the damage caused to our sport after the Armstrong affair.

"The UCI has been in discussions with WADA and it remains committed to commissioning an independent audit of the behaviour and practices of our organisation during the Armstrong years.

"We also clearly need to do a much better job communicating our anti-doping activities and reassuring the public and our stakeholders that we are indeed doing everything possible to ensure a clean sport and protect clean riders - and that the culture in the peloton has changed radically from that of years past."

After years of denials and after being banned for life by the UCI and stripped of all results since August 1998 following evidence gathered by USADA, Armstrong in January confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his seven Tour de France victories, from 1999 to 2005.

The USADA report into Armstrong's United States Postal Service team contained allegations suggesting the UCI was aware of the group's drug use.

The UCI leadership - McQuaid, the president since 2005, and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen, now the honorary president - has been under intense pressure and scrutiny, but denies wrongdoing.

Irishman McQuaid has been steadfast in his insistence he has nothing to hide and welcomed the findings of the consultation, which saw more than 6,000 people responding to an online survey.

Five working groups, featuring 85 participants, were also consulted, with independent auditors Deloitte publishing the findings.

Deloitte's 'crucial' recommendations included the need to restore credibility and public perceptions, decide whether to hold an independent inquiry into the Armstrong affair, improve relations between the UCI and WADA and to strengthen the anti-doping culture at the UCI.

Further top-tier recommendations included the development of a long-term strategic plan and the restructuring of the pro-cycling calendar.

Deloitte also made additional 'high-priority' recommendations - to increase the independence of the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF); to appoint an independent anti-doping body to sanction professional riders caught doping; to review the existing points system for pro-teams; to develop women's cycling; and, to improve communication with professional road riders.

McQuaid insisted many of the recommended practices are already underway, while adding that the UCI has long been at the forefront of anti-doping in sport.

He is determined to continue in the role of president, despite the discontent among many in the sport.

McQuaid's nomination by Cycling Ireland is the subject of an Emergency General Meeting in Dublin next month, but he has been nominated by Swiss Cycling in the interim.

As a resident of Switzerland, McQuaid could be nominated, thus negating the risk of his compatriots opting against putting him forward for a third term.

The nomination by Swiss Cycling has been queried, but the UCI insist there is nothing untoward.

A UCI spokesperson said in an email to Press Association Sport: "No UCI rule forbids an individual from being a member of more than one federation although a licence, which is required to participate in cycling events, can only be held from one federation.

"Pat McQuaid's honorary membership of Cycling Ireland includes a licence card.

"He is a full member of Swiss cycling and has not applied for a licence from Swiss cycling (or received one).

"No rule prevents Swiss Cycling from nominating Pat McQuaid because he is an honorary member of Cycling Ireland."

PA Media

The Left Wing: Schools rugby special - 'The St Michael’s dream team are the side to beat'

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport