The Union Cycliste International’s (UCI) President Pat McQuaid announced today in Geneva that it would strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France wins, but found himself defending his federation for the sport’s ongoing doping problems.

“When I took over as president of the UCI in 2005, I made the fight against doping my priority, that still remains my priority. I admitted and acknowledged that cycling had a culture of doping and that I was intent on changing that culture of doping. Cycling has come a long way since then. There’s a lot of evidence that culture of doping has changed or is changing. I was very comforted by the remarks this week by some people like Bradley Wiggins, Philippe Gilbert, David Millar, who testified to the fact that the culture within the peloton has changed.”

He added that to catch the dope cheats in the pre-WADA years was difficult, and that the UCI was limited by the system it had to work within. Now they have greater powers and work with national police forces and investigators who have even more powers. “You have to put yourself in that date and place. These activities took place between 1998 and 2005; cycling has changed a lot since then. What was available to the UCI at that time was much more limited than what is available now. If we had those tools that we have now, this sort of activity wouldn’t have gone on.”

The UCI, according to McQuaid, now spends 7.5m Swiss Francs annually on anti-doping measures and has staff who liaise with police forces across Europe in the fight against doping.

Many questions still remain over McQuaid, and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen who still wields considerable power in his role as Honorary President. Under their watch the UCI received a $125,000 donation from Armstrong and publicly criticised Frankie Andreau, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis when they confessed to their past drug use. Earlier this year they tried to claim USADA had no authority in the Armstrong case – only to be told by WADA they were wrong – and publicly criticised the American anti-doping agency for taking too long to provide the UCI with their evidence.

“I have no intention of resigning as the UCI president,” a resilient McQuaid said. “There’s nothing in the USADA report that said that Hein Verbruggen did anything wrong, so therefore there’s no reason why he should go.” McQuaid took over as president in 2005 from Hein Verbruggen, who continues as the honorary head of the cycling federation.

The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) published its reasoned decision in the Lance Armstrong doping investigation on October 10, at the same time sending a 1000-page document explaining its case to the UCI. It told of doping throughout Armstrong’s career; 1999 to 2010, the years he won the Tour, and his comeback.

The agency details Armstrong’s cortisone positive test being covered up by his team via a backdated therapeutic use exemption (TUE) form in the 1999 Tour de France. It gathered testimony from 15 riders, including former Armstrong team-mates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton. Both alleged the UCI covered up Armstrong’s positive EPO test from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland. The UCI admitted it received around $125,000 from Armstrong in 2002, but had already said in 2010 that this was not part of a cover-up.

“[The bribery allegations] are absolutely untrue,” McQuaid said. “When you study the papers in the file related to the 1999 cortisone [positive test] and the 2001 Tour of Switzerland, you’d see that there was nothing to be bought off. The UCI absolutely denies that ever happened.”

“I wasn’t President at that time, I can only account for my period from 2005 onwards,” McQuaid explained. “If I have to apologise now on the behalf of the UCI, what I will say is that I’m sorry that we couldn’t catch every damn one of them red-handed and thrown them out of the sport at the time.”

  • al bondinga

    its time cyclists took control of their sport – break away from UCI and set up a new cycling organisation – turn the page and start afresh

  • Cherry

    In view of the history of professional cycling and the Arnstrong situation it’s not an unreasonable question to wonder how anyone can now actually prove that they are clean. An obvious starting point might be to make sure that you avoid anything on the WADA/UCI banned list and rely on the testing regime to underpin your position. The recent obsession with taking Lance Armstrong down at all costs might well satisfy many people with an axe to grind but the determination to ignore the fact that unlike many others he passed all drug tests has removed any credible way for current riders to prove that they are clean on the basis that at some point in the future what they are doing today might be outlawed. If the UCI is open to criticism its for this fact alone not what seems to be its perceived support and complicity in the Armsrong case. In the circumstances the decision by Rabobank to end its ties with the sport is the only logical conclusion to come to.

  • phil tregear

    have a look at this

    Mac Quaid seems incapable of accepting the UCIs responsibilities and taking any meaningful leadership. On top of all that has happened this is just vile. Good luck to Cavendish, Millar et al in kicking the old guard out. Good luck to Dick Pound and Travis Tygart too. I cannot understand how or why the UCI would wish to undermine the USADA report if they had a shred of honour and decency

  • angharad

    McQuaid should go he’s one dope too many, and Verbruggen should be pensioned off as well.

  • Another bloke

    I’ve read as much as I can find about this issue.

    MacQuaid’s calling those who testified against Armstrong “scumbags”, and then saying he could work with Armstrong if he confessed, just defies logic. MacQuaid really is finished! He has become the problem. I really feel that the world of cycling would welcome his resignation from the UCI. He is just too close to Verbruggan and his way of thinking. Paul Kimmage as UCI President would make a fresh start.

  • Sheldon

    Yes Stuart, I remember McQuaid when he took a young Sean Kelly to race in South Africa , using false names. Not a man you would ever trust and he needs to go. I don’t believe a word he says. Infact the UCI need to go, they spent more time trying to kick Obree out of the sport and apart from being an ace bike rider what did he ever do wrong?? It was an absolute joke when they made his bike then riding position illegal.

  • stuart stanton

    Pat ‘Apartheid Buster’ McQuaid False names and id”s in the face of UN resolutions etc. And he has the cheek to lecture on morality!!

  • Mark Weaver

    I’m not setting out to justify anyone’s position in the Lance Amstrong Doping scandle, but as a impartial person with no commercial connection to the sport other than enjoying riding my bike of a weekend, it clear to me (except others judging by the reporting I have read on the internet) that we have two parties cyclists and the rule makers of the sport.The rule makers came into being as the sport became popular and required a set rules to ensure fairness.

    Given what I have read this week it seems there is no responsibility by the rule makers. When we look at the facts I suspect there will be a “cause and effect” , Lance allegedly ‘doped’ to beat the other riders who were also allegedly ‘doping’ this was played out and was playing out (cumulative effect 7 years?) under the care of the rule makers and/or others in the sport I suspect?

    To my view the disproportionate weight of the scandle is clearly on Lance Amstrong this week with no culprability apportioned to the rule makers or others in this matter.

    To seek assurances from Bradley Wiggins this week appears to again set a ‘culture of distance’ from the riders, there should be a culture of knowing and trusting. Having to ask, “are you clean” followed by a drug test seems very blunted to me (I accept I maybe naive in such matters) but the results speak for themselves.

    I guess my point is there appears to be a serious disconnect between the rule makers of the sport and the riders both at a cultural and scientific level, until this is fixed and responsibilty taken (not just confessions by riders) then pyschologically the followers and interested parties of the sport will always mistrust and won’t believe this fun and exciting spectacle.The future is what you make of it and I for one will look forward in how this develops, hopefully for the better.

  • Mark

    Did anybody else hear the interview with McQuaid where he essentially said the riders who had admitted to doping were out of order for suggesting the UCI should shoulder any blame (I think it was on 5 Live yesterday afternoon)? To explain this he used an analogy of a burglar blaming the police for not being at the house to catch them. Whilst I can see what he meant from the point of view of those individual riders, he totally missed the point that the UCI has to shoulder the blame for the wider sport and, in particular, for the fans that have been let down. Or, to use his own analogy, the owners of the house and the wider public are right to blame the police for not stopping the burglary!!

  • Robert

    Perhaps McQuaid is using a different definition of ‘corruption’ to everyone else. Semantics aside Verbruggen, McQuaid and the UCI have done an amazingly convincing impersonation of being Armstrong’s shills over the years. Although they clearly had good evidence as far back as 2001 that he was using Epo, they defended him at every turn against allegations of drug use. McQuaid’s hypocrisy here was staggering, ignoring the mounting evidence that Armstrong was an habitual doper whilst at the same time arguing that doping was something only indulged in by riders from the traditional heartlands of cycling. For example, take the following from Cycling News for January 8, 2007

    [Quote]: On Friday, UCI president Pat McQuaid said the following at a New Year’s reception, which was broadcast by Dutch TV program NOS: “There is a clash going on at the moment between two cultures. The Anglo-Saxon culture and what I might call the ‘Mafia’ Western European culture [meaning Belgium, France, Italy and Spain – ed.]. The Western European culture has to some extent, I won’t say condoned doping, but because of their culture in life, the way they deal with everything else in life, they accept certain practices.” [End quote.]

    Again, one of Armstrong’s most used and distasteful strategies when faced with evidence of his doping was to exploit and feed anti-French xenophobia, especially in the US, claiming that ‘The French’ were out to get him. The loyal McQuaid was not slow to join in. For example, in the Irish Independent of 28 February 2010 McQuaid said the following of Armstrong’s comeback:

    [Quote]: “The only papers that were negative were the French,” he said of Armstrong’s return to race riding last year, “because they don’t like him anyway.” [End quote.]

    [Quote]: “The French?” McQuaid muses, carefully choosing his words. “They’re an unusual race let’s say. [End quote.]

    Another example of the UCI’s determination to serve the interests of Armstrong and his fellow gangsters relate to the way the outspokenly anti-doping President of the ASO, Patrice Clerc (who to the UCI’s fury refused to let Bruyneel’s Astana Team ride the Tour in the wake of their 2007 blood doping scandal) was sacked. As well as ensuring that the UCI and not the French anti-doping agency were in charge of dope testing at the Tour for Armstrong’s comeback, and the way the UCI’s testers gave Armstrong’s team ample time to ‘prepare’ for testing actually during the race, McQuaid claimed credit for persuading the ASO to get rid of Clerc, replacing him with someone less likely to cause the UCI problems. The following is taken from published on Wednesday, October 1, 2008:

    [Quote]: Clerc deeply mistrusted the UCI and was loath to make peace after the two bodies severed ties earlier this year following ASO’s exclusion of the Astana team from the Tour. UCI chief Pat McQuaid subsequently went over Clerc’s head to the widow of the ASO founder, with skiing legend Jean-Claude Killy acting as a go-between. An accord that will bring organizers of the Tours of France, Italy and Spain back into the UCI fold was signed two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Marie-Odile Amaury has installed her 32-year-old son in Clerc’s place – for the time being.

    “It’s something I shouldn’t comment on,” McQuaid told Wednesday. “It’s an internal Amaury decision. All I would say [to Clerc] is ‘goodbye,’ and you can read between the lines if you like.” [End quote.]

    Even if (a rather big if) the UCI are not strictly speaking ‘corrupt’, it is clear that they believed that what was good for Armstrong was good for cycling, and were prepared to anything to protect his position. As such they are as complicit as he was in the biggest fraud in the history of sport.

  • Darryl

    Its clear McQuaid and Verbruggen have to go, I just wonder how much more damage they can do to the sport before they finally accept it?

  • David Chadderton

    So, are we now absolutely confident that no rider is contravening the WADA listof of banned substances and methods?

  • henry

    It’s hard not to see parallels in the situations of Mr McQuaid and Mr Armstrong. Armstrong just denied any wrongdoing for years so that he could make as much money as possible until his position became untenable. Mr McQuaid keeps telling us that the UCI are above reproach and have nothing to be sorry for. If he were to resign it might be good for cycling but it wouldn’t be good for his bank account. It seems his friendship with Mr Verbruggen may be more important to him than the well being of cycling in general. I wonder what the reason is for that?

  • Chery

    First theUSADA “convicts” Lance Armstrong of doping despite an apparently cast iron alibi – “didn’t fail a drugs test guv!” Now we have the UCI deciding to support the USDA decision whilst not only avoiding any direct reference to wrong doing by Lance Armstrong personally but also corroborating the drug test alibi and inviting the USADA and others to explain how they didn’t catch him either. To say that it’s regrettable that todays testing capabilities weren’t available at the time implies that by todays standards there isnt a past race result that can be regarded as safe and so should be disregarded. The history of cycling rewritten in a day; who’d have thought it? You couldn’t make it up!

  • Terry

    For UCI read BBC, for Armstrong read Savile, both have taken the p*ss out of adoring fans. Nothing can be as bad as the abuse of children but at least Cycling now has, hopefully, new clean heroes.
    I expect nothing less than resignations from the UCI has they must have known what was going on, how could 500+ blood tests ALL be negative.
    Yes, more sackings of implicated riders and staff until the cancer (no pun intended in LA’s case) is eradicated otherwise nothing has been achieved.