Pat McQuaid, the president of the UCI has declined Cycling Weekly's invitation to clarify the contradictions regarding the explanations of Lance Armstrong's donations to the governing body and the purchase of a Sysmex machine, a piece of equipment used to perform blood tests.
On June 2, CW requested an interview with Mr McQuaid and submitted 19 questions in an attempt to clear up the inconsistencies in the various statements made explaining how much was donated, when it was paid and what the money was spent on.
This week a spokesman from the UCI replied to say: "UCI does not wish to do this interview. However, you could see the receipt of the Sysmex machine - which is in a file in the legal department of the UCI - if you want to visit us. In relation to the payments the president clarified everything during the interview with Cyclingnews and will not comment any more until after the Landis investigation is completed."
In that interview, Mr McQuaid revealed there were, in fact, two payments from Armstrong to the UCI. He said the first donation was made in 2002. It was for $25,000, paid by a personal cheque signed by Armstrong and his then wife, Kristin. McQuaid said that money was used by the UCI's anti-doping council to do tests on junior riders, because the UCI wanted to ensure there was no conflict of interest as Armstrong was an active rider.
McQuaid said the second payment, for $100,000, was made in 2005 and came from Armstrong's management company Capital Sports and Entertainment. McQuaid said the fact the money came from his management company may explain why Armstrong did not know about it when he gave his deposition to the arbitration hearing in the SCA Promotions case in 2005 and said that the donation he'd made to the UCI some years earlier for an amount 'in the region of $25,000'.
However, there are still inconsistencies in McQuaid's statements because last month he said that Armstrong pledged a donation after visiting the UCI's new headquarters in Aigle in 2002 but that the money did not come in until 2005, when the UCI chased it up.
And in an interview with Eurosport in 2005, former UCI president Hein Verbruggen said that Armstrong had given money "for the research against doping, to discover new anti-doping methods... He gave money from his private funds, cash. He didn't want this to be known but he did it."
The UCI may be keen to avoid further questioning on the matter and Mr McQuaid may feel his explanations so far are adequate but so far, little adds up.
The issue of an active rider making donations to the UCI and the UCI's past and present presidents' inability to provide one, clear definitive account of what was paid, why and when raises further questions about the relationship between the sport's governing body and its most renowned athlete.
19 KEY QUESTIONS FOR THE UCI
1. Pat McQuaid said the donation from Mr Armstrong was pledged in 2002 after he and Johan Bruyneel visited UCI headquarters in Aigle. Mr McQuaid said the pledge was made in 2002 but the money did not come in until 2005 when 'a phone call was made'. Why was there the delay?
2. Who telephoned who to chase up the money?
3. Mr McQuaid said the payment was made in 2005 but at the Play the Game conference in October 2007, Mr McQuaid said the money came in 'about 15 months ago', which would make it around May 2006. So when exactly did the money arrive in the UCI bank account? Was it made by bank transfer by Mr Armstrong or by a company?
4. Mr McQuaid has said he did not consider a donation from an active athlete to be a conflict of interests. Can you confirm how many other payments from active riders or others involved in the sport (a team manager for example) have been accepted?
5. When was the Sysmex machine purchased?
6. Which model of machine was purchased?
7. Exactly how much did it cost?
8. Someone at Sysmex told Cycling Weekly that the Sysmex machine would have cost 'a little more than $100,000'. Did the UCI negotiate a deal for this particular machine?
9. Mr McQuaid said the UCI had documents to show when the machine was purchased and how much it cost. Can these documents be published on the UCI website or provided to any media who requests to see them?
10. Has the UCI purchased any other equipment from Sysmex?
11. What does the UCI use the Sysmex machine for?
12. How many races was the Sysmex used at in 2009?
13. How many tests were performed using the Sysmex machine in 2009?
14. Have any doping offences been detected as a result of the Sysmex machine?
15. How is the Sysmex machine transported when it goes to races?
16. Is its use in the field 'WADA accredited'? Is it used in the field in accordance with the accredited lab conditions at Lausanne, Chatenay-Malabre and elsewhere?
17. Someone from Sysmex told Cycling Weekly they were surprised the machine was transported because it operates using a very sensitive laser that could become less accurate if jolted. Who operates the Sysmex machine and ensures it remains calibrated?
18. Can you provide a photograph of the machine?
19. Is it possible for us to come to see the Sysmex machine in use at the Tour de France?
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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.
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