A broad group of cycling personalities gathered at the Hilton Hotel in London’s Edgware road to reveal its four-page ‘Charter of the Willing,’ as well as present a way ahead for cycling and propose changes to anti-doping controls – as well as demanding the removal of UCI president Pat McQuaid and honorary president Hein Verbruggen.

Following two days of discussions in London, the group (Skins founder and chairman Jaimie Fuller, Dr Michael Ashenden, journalist Paul Kimmage, former Tour winner Greg LeMond, former Festina coach Antoine Vayer, former AIGCP president and former pro Eric Boyer, Garmin team owner Jonathan Vaughters, Dr John Hoberman of the University of Texas prime among them) announced its intention to, in the words of Kimmage, ‘become a noisy pressure group’. Although to be fair this would appear to be the least of the group’s ambitions.

At the moment – as of Monday evening – the month-old group is little more than a high profile pressure group in need of publicity, support and momentum. Its make-up is decidedly Anglo-French in outlook, lacks a supportive spokesman from the current crop of active riders and needs a ‘buy-in’ from as many areas and supporters as possible. The first speakers from the podium – LeMond, Fuller, Ashenden, Kimmage – spoke only briefly before the meeting was open to questions which lasted over a hour.

The thrust of the questions were about the funding and aims of the group, as well as several journalists asking how this pressure group – asking for major changes at the top of the sport – would be any different from anyone else asking for similar changes. The feeling was that if enough stakeholders (riders, organisers, sponsors, teams and fans) got behind the aims of the group, the pressure on the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) would force changes.

One of the most eloquent speakers on the podium – blood doping authority Ashenden – insisted that cycling badly needed to regain credibility in the eyes of the public and that the one important way to do that was by implementing a new anti-doping regime and test proceedures.

“We discussed this and explained it to Gianni Bugno, the president of the riders’ group and he needs to explain it to the riders’ representatives. I wasn’t even sure if it was right to mention it in the press conference, because I think it’s important that the riders themselves support it. But the key is that this will be an anti-doping system that works with the riders and helps them rather than an organisation imposing it from outside and us telling the riders what we are going to do to them,” said Ashenden later.

The man bankrolling the movement – and paying the expenses of some of the personalities present – Jaimie Fuller of Skins – insisted that the recently announced Independent Commission of Inquiry into the UCI’s activities during the Lance Armstrong era was not enough to repair the damage done to the public perception of the sport.

“We believe that, during the the course of the inquiry that Honorary President Hein Verbruggen and President McQuaid should stand down from their posts until the commission has reported its findings,” said Fuller.

Fuller’s insistence that Verbruggen and McQuaid need to go was echoed by Kimmage. “I don’t think it’s right that we will have to wait seven months for the Inquiry to report its findings, we need to keep the pressure on, we need to make sure this issue will not go away,” insisted the animated Irish journalist.

And it’s clear that the fallout from the USADA-Armstrong affair won’t be going away, though how much impact this group can have in the months ahead might hinge, in the first instance on whether or not the rider’s group (CPA) is persuaded by Bugno’s explanation of Ashenden’s new anti-doping proposal.

In addition, if Vaughters, the outgoing president of the AIGCP, can sell the agenda to the team’s organisation, that would also be a major filip to the noisy fledgling outfit. Without ‘buy-in’ from riders, it’s hard to see how the group will gain support. More info at www.changecyclingnow.org

One final point though: for an organisation calling for more transparency and openness within the governing body of the sport, when one of the attendee profiles is a Twitter avatar – an anonymous, genderless, Twitter avatar – that’s probably not sending out the best message.

Related links

Change Cycling Now group to pressure UCI

  • Ken Evans

    “the Hilton Hotel in London’s Edgware road”—-DO YOU MEAN PARK LANE ?

  • Sam

    Sorry, another post, just picking up on Kenny’s point about anonymity – totally agree. why should anonymity engender trust and faith when it comes to something like this? Some people are already whooping for Greg LeMond – they know who he is and feel that they know they can trust him. All that’s known to a small subset of fans on Twitter – who are in turn a tiny fraction of cycling fans, despite what seems to be said in this regard – is that this anonymous account is very fond of claiming that 9/10ths of the peloton are doping, and abuses virtually any and every rider who says anything about doping (unless they are part of her tiny number of favourites including bizarrely Contador).

  • KennyPryde

    Dim (that’s not really your name is it? C’mon, don’t be so shy!) Sorry, I must have missed that podcast where the person claiming to be the person behind the Festinagirl Twitter account revealed herself. I suspect there are a plenty more ‘stakeholders’ not on Twitter, who don’t follow the sport through Twitter, who might be asking ‘Who is this?’ We can agree that the whole cycling world is not on Twitter, yes?
    My badly put point was that there was some irony (and not in a funny way) about a group insisting on truth, openness and transparency incorporating an anoymous Twitter feed as a key input. By all means engage with all stakeholders, but the core players behind the CCN.org Charter of the Willing should be named. As in, ‘XYZ, who operates on Twitter as Blah’. Jaimie Fuller, Mr Skins, said he was “Happy” (as in, ‘unconcerned and didn’t see any contradiction’) that Festinagirl remained anonymous within the context of CCN.

    And, yes, I spelled Edgware wrong. I’m Scottish, I was dazzled by the big city lights…

  • Sam

    I’m no lover of McQuaid, and Verbruggen needs to be kicked into touch. And I certainly believe anti-doping controls need to be independent of the UCI, However, I have reservations over this group’s composition for a number of reasons. Almost everyone in that group has some financial interest in cycling – so there are conflicts of interest, despite Kimmage/LeMond saying in the press confererence that none of them make any money from cycling. Patently that’s not true: LeMond has his trainers business, Kimmage and Walsh write about the sport, Fuller’s company supplies several teams with its goods, Vaughters part-owns a team etc. Also, almost everyone in the group has been/is very publicly at odds with the UCI, including Kimmage and Fuller who both have lawsuits against the UCI (and also from the UCI in the former’s case. Why does this matter? Because it makes it very easy for McQuaid to dismiss the group as full of people with vendettas etc, however much they truly have cycling’s best interests at heart.

    Also, LeMond wanting to run against McQuaid. He cant just stick his hand in the air. Firstly USA Cycling would have to elect to replace their current incumbent as US nat fed rep to the UCI, with LeMond. I have no idea what their rules involve, but that would be the first thing that has to happen. And my impression is that LeMond doesnt have a very good network within USA Cycling – Lance and his cronies still wield certain power that LeMond doesnt have. That’s the first big hurdle.

  • Kim

    In no way does the group think of these select elitists reflect my views. The revenge axe is still grinding away and the sport suffers accordingly.

  • John Speers

    I’m completely behind this, I was always a Lance septic and whilst not always in total agreement with Greg Lemonds comments, I think it’s what the sport needs to get some credibility back

  • Dim

    I think referring to festinagirl as genderless is a bit much. Shes appeared on various podcasts and there is no doubt she is female.