Cycling may enter 2013 with a greater acceptance towards dopers. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) will discuss an amnesty in a meeting next week in a bid to help its sport move ahead.

“I think there’s room for it and I think the UCI could do well to [introduce it]… It’s something which we would look into possibly doing,” UCI President Pat McQuaid told the Associated Press.

“It would need to be examined as to how it could be introduced, what would be the parameters of it, what would be the framework in which it’s worked, what would be the results afterwards. We have to work in the world anti-doping rules and sanctions.”

McQuaid said he would propose an amnesty at a management committee meeting next week in Holland during the World Championships. In the article he did not specify, but the idea would seemingly allow current and former pros to speak openly to help the UCI and national federations in investigations.

Current pros George Hincapie (BMC Racing), Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp) and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) are said to have testified in the Lance Armstrong investigation. Hincapie retired this month, but the riders may face sanctions even if they have volunteered information freely.

Garmin’s general manager, Jonathan Vaughters indicated last week that Vande Velde, Zabriskie and Tom Danielson all doped in the past when they were with other teams.

“If those three help the prosecutor to understand the system then it could make sense. We want to understand the system in which the cyclists are the ones who always pay,” the UCI’s vice-president, Renato Di Rocco told Cycling Weekly.

Di Rocco also heads the Italian cycling federation (FCI), which is dealing several doping cases. Italy has already offered deals to cyclists who help with investigations. Di Rocco indicated that Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini) helped with known doping doctor, Michele Ferrari.

An amnesty “would help understand the system that’s fixed on the cyclist, but also may involve managers, coaches, doctors… The cyclist always pays, though. It could be a way out of this situation.”

Some disagree with the UCI’s amnesty proposal, including Cédric Vasseur. The Frenchman won two stages of the Tour de France before retiring and presided over the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA). He now commentates for French-speaking television.

“I am totally against that,” Vasseur told Cycling Weekly after reading about the UCI’s proposal. He said the rules also need to strip riders of their winnings.

“What is important is to follow the rules during the career and respect the others at the time. It makes no sense to flick the others, take the money, the honours, and years after tell everybody that you were a cheater because you are having no other choice.”

The rules of a possible amnesty deal will be known after September 19 and 20, when the UCI will hold its a committee meeting.

Related links

Doping revelations: Cycling at a turning point

  • William Greenwood

    Needs something like this. It’s been the elephant in the room for years
    Close the door and start again with total life bans and huge fines for all invloved for anyone caught after the amnesty.

    How can they take the races from Copi, Anquetil etc….and though it dosn’t please everyone, Armstrong.

  • The Spinning Doctor

    Aside from the moral implications of lying etc, there is the aspect of fraud. A rider who has doped, as fraudulently claimed a prize, reputation or possession based on artificial means. If former riders are stripped of their wins, then that is their dignity that takes a know, but the fraudulent claiming of monies, prizes and rewards is a criminal offence.

    A controlled amnesty of some kind would be a good PR move, but, just as the justification of the USADA investigation, the disruption of doping rings is more important than the capture of an indervidual rider. Should the encouragement of parting information lead to the conviction of supply chains, runners, middle men, dodgy doctors and medical sales reps that are willing to aid and abet in fraud, only then would the amnesty of any value.

    For every rider who is doping, there will be a network behind them in doping development, supply and administration. Only the disruption of the background networks will lead to a cleaner sport, and if former riders who can name names, explain practices and aid disruption, than lets encourage them to do it.

  • Sam

    JD: Armstrong has not been ‘picked on’ as one rider for doping. He has been found guilty of conspiracy, supply and trafficking of doping products, and everything else – go and read the charging cheat from the USADA, its all there. The reasons why he has been stripped of his titles are nothing to do with him doping as an individual, but the much much more serious offences.

  • Mike Birch

    doesn’t seem very joined up thinking. What the sport needs is current drugs cheat to assist in the fight. Either caught by positive test or preferably by volunteering with some sort of immunity or reduction in sentence. asking ex-pros who have already banked the palmares and money and fame to finger other ex-pros doesn’t really help. reliable evidence is pretty hard to come by 10 years after the crime was supposedly committed. I’m not saying that such people shouldn’t be investigated and have their records amended accordingly but it doesn’t really help. cheats need to be caught in the act and the punishments need to be imposed quickly in order for them to work.

  • JD

    Which is rather at odds with USADA’s pursuit of Lance Armstrong, no? If the UCI wants to hand out amnesty for past wrongdoing why pick on one rider?

  • Robert

    What a joke! This looks like nothing more than the UCI’s latest scheme to save Armstrong’s ‘palmares’. I can just imagine McQuaid’s phone call to Armstrong: “Look Lance, I know we have protected you for years, but the USADA have got you bang to rights and we will be forced by WADA rules to fall into line with the stripping of your Tour ‘wins’. How about getting your PR people to cook up a tear-filled confession, you can claim you were forced into doping by circumstance, and then we will rule that the wins are still yours.”

    Of course, what is really needed is an ‘amnesty’ that involves the UCi confessing to all the corruption it has been involved in over the years.