Pat McQuaid has welcomed the US Anti-Doping Agency USADA report last night, insisting that it clears him “of any corruption, any wrong doing or any complicity in doping”.
The 227-page document, commissioned by UCI President Brian Cookson as part of a push for transparency, and compiled by the fully independent panel over 13 months at an estimated cost of £3million, features one incredible claim from a "respected cycling professional" that 90 per cent of the peloton is still doping in one form or another today.
Although other riders interviewed under condition of anonymity reckon that figure to be far lower, the commission found that a typical response among those who testified, when asked about teams, was that "probably three or four [riders] were clean, three or four were doping, and the rest were a 'don't know'".
The contents of the report, which also provides damning evidence that former UCI presidents Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid were complicit in creating a doping culture in the 1990s and 2000s, will come as a blow to many in the sport who insist that cycling has turned a corner.
Although the commission considers systematic doping organised by teams to be a thing of the past, it paints a disturbing picture of a sport in which doping has been pushed "underground", with the situation now "more opaque".
But McQuaid insists he never gave drug cheat Lance Armstrong and preferential treatment during his time as President of the UCI.
“It wasn’t a case of defending or protecting Lance Armstrong. We tested him and we tested over 200 times and he never tested positive,” said McQuaid on RTE’s Morning Ireland today.
“Every police authority in the world knows who is committing the crimes but until they get evidence against them, they can’t catch them.
“The very important thing in this report, and it is a landmark report, is that it was set up to look into allegations of corruption and wrong doing and complicity in hiding doping cases within the UCI over that period.
“The report completely clears me of any corruption, any wrong doing or any complicity in doping and for me that is very very important.”
When asked if he rejected any allegations that he assisted Lance Armstrong in any of his seven Tour De France wins, McQuaid answered: “Absolutely, absolutely.”
While he was staunch in his defence of his time as President of the UCI, McQuaid did admit that, looking back, there are decisions he made which he now regrets.
“Hindsight is 20-20 vision. There are many decisions I took while I was President of the UCI that now, looking back on it, I would have done differently.”
Doping in cycling remains widespread, with cheats exploiting grey areas, experimenting with designer drugs and becoming ever more sophisticated, according to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) which published its highly anticipated report on Sunday night.