Eamonn Sweeney: Dumped in gutter by Cycling Ireland
It's not often that a meeting of an Irish national sporting body makes international headlines. But that's just what happened last week.
"McQuaid up for third time as international cycling union president," said the New York Times, "UCI Chief Pat McQuaid nominated to seek re-election," said Sports Illustrated, "Public deserves doping answers before McQuaid's re-election bid," said the Sydney Morning Herald.
Oops. Still, two out of three ain't bad. The decision of Cycling Ireland to nominate McQuaid for a run at retaining his top job in the UCI was important because without the nod from his national federation it would have been curtains for Pat. In other words, Cycling Ireland could have brought Pat's chequered reign to an end and allowed the sport to start afresh in the new post-Armstrong era. Instead they decided to give their boy another crack at the job.
Well done guys. Sure hasn't Pat done a great job? Not least, as he said himself last week, in "combating the scourge of doping in cycling."
Now 'the famous anti-doping crusader' may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Pat McQuaid's name. But you'd be wrong. Just like Travis Tygart of the US Anti-Doping Authority was wrong when he criticised McQuaid's UCI for "accepting money from Armstrong, accusing us of a witch-hunt without seeing any evidence, suing the chief whistle-blower and discouraging witnesses from participating," "attempting to escape responsibility for their failures," and using "underhand tactics."
And Greg LeMond must have been wrong too when he asked "the whole cycling world to join with me in asking Pat McQuaid to fuck off and resign." So were the 21,197 people who liked the comment on LeMond's facebook page. Paul Kimmage is wrong to think McQuaid should resign. So am I. So are you. What do we know?
It took Cycling Ireland to realise that when Pat called the witnesses against Armstrong "scumbags," he was "combating the scourge of doping in cycling," when he cast aspersions on the integrity of the investigation which nailed Armstrong, he was "combating the scourge of doping in cycling," when he cancelled an inquiry into the allegations, sued Paul Kimmage, suggested that anti-doping bodies had a vendetta against cycling, he was "combating the scourge".
The rest of us weren't bright enough to see that. We just noted the inability to admit he'd been wrong and wondered what kind of organisation could produce a character like that. Now we know.
One board member, Anthony Moran, disagreed with the nomination and resigned. The other six went with Pat. Congratulations on those headlines dudes. It's just a shame you had to drag the sporting good name of the country through the shit to get them.