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McQuaid under the spotlight in cycling's darkest hour

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David Bond | 21:36 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2012

In Geneva

Pat McQuaid, president of world cycling's governing body the UCI, described it as the biggest crisis in cycling's history.

Stripping Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and telling him he had no place in cycling, McQuaid nevertheless insisted the sport had a bright future.

But while the UCI may feel it has drawn a line under the affair by rubber stamping the United States Anti Doping Agency's (Usada) incendiary report on Armstrong, McQuaid and the UCI still have some searching questions to answer.

Alongside its verdict on the Usada case, the UCI delivered a bulging pack of rebuttals which attempted to clarify some of the other issues raised in the two-year investigation.

Pat McQuaid at the UCI's press conference over Lance Armstrong

There are still too many questions needing an answer from Pat McQuaid and the UCI. Photo: Getty

Among the hundreds of pages of evidence - mostly gathered from Armstrong's former team-mates - is an alarming claim that Armstrong paid the UCI $100,000 for the fight against anti-doping.

Floyd Landis, a former colleague of Armstrong's who now admits to using drugs, claims this was hush money to cover up a positive test for EPO collected from Armstrong during his victory in the Tour of Switzerland in 2001.

The Usada report details how the head of the Lausanne laboratory which carried out the testing reported a number of samples with suspiciously high levels of EPO. Dr Martial Saugy says when he asked the UCI about the findings, he was told one of the samples belonged to Armstrong but no action was taken as the levels of EPO were not sufficiently high to record a positive test.

The UCI says that was the end of the matter - even though testing procedures now would have deemed the test sufficient to record a positive finding.

Suspicions have been aroused because some time after the suspicious finding, in 2002, Armstrong visited the lab in Lausanne and promised the large donation to the UCI.

The UCI vehemently denies any claims of a cover up and insists the payment of the money - used to buy a blood analysis machine which is now housed at the Wada-accredited laboratory in Lausanne - was unrelated.

But why were the UCI taking money off Armstrong when they knew he had at the very least recorded a suspicious finding for EPO? By the time the money was paid in 2007 there had been countless allegations made in the media about Armstrong.

And how many sports do you know which accept large donations from leading athletes to fund the fight against doping? Even if it is all above board as the UCI claims, it leaves the organisation open to claims of a conflict of interest and poor judgment.

Anne Gripper, a former medical commissioner of the UCI, says Armstrong was so influential that he basically administered the organisation's rules.

McQuaid dismissed Gripper's comments - as you might expect - but it is hard to escape the impression that here was a sporting body completely in thrall to its leading superstar - and biggest revenue generator.

With hindsight, McQuaid says, accepting the money from Armstrong was a mistake. But, incredulous as this might seem, he revealed during Monday's news conference that some leading teams also paid money to the UCI to help finance the battle against drugs. Which teams? And how accountable is this money? What exactly is it used for?

With such blurred lines between regulating the sport and promoting it, it's not hard to see why the UCI is today facing another long battle to save cycling's reputation.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hindsight is required to recognise that accepting money from an individual that you are responsible for policing is a bad idea. Really??

    The UCI seem to believe that simply stating that, "There's no place in cycling for Lance Armstrong" is the 'answer' in it's entirety. Until they can look at themselves objectively and get their own house in order we'll continue to remain a very long way from making the future better than the past.

  • Comment number 2.

    to be honest, the biggest issue is that the UCI has showed it is not fit for purpose. it failed to protect riders who did not want to dope and who had to drop out of the sport as a result.

    i am not convinced by all these riders who have suddenly come out and testified and said they were forced into doping. there seems to have been enough of them that they could have come together to do something about the problem rather than becoming part of it. they do not regret it, otherwise they would have come out before there was this opportunity for reduced bans/ it's the end of their careers.

    i'm more talking about the guys who chose to leave professional cycling as a result. the uci failed them.

    it needs someone like david millar at the top who has chosen to do some good and drag the sport forward - and not for any personal gain from reduced bans etc like hincapie and the rest have done.

    the people at the top of cycling are still so backwards and their attitudes have not changed from when they were failing at the beginning of the century and before. they are doing nothing for the development of the sport.

    another thing that intrigues me is that they have gone beyond the cut off for investigating and banning past riders i think i read somewhere. when are they going to go back and re-test and investigate riders from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s? although it seems clear that armstrong is guilty of doping, it also seems that he is being targeted as a scape goat by both former dopers and the uci for their own failings.

  • Comment number 3.

    Could allowing doping and drugs in sport work?
    Before jumping to conclusions, and shouting at me read this: http://jm-blogsport.blogspot.co.uk/
    It takes a different perspective, one that hasn't really been properly considered before.

  • Comment number 4.

    Would the BBC please do an article comparing the testing performed in Cycling versus the testing performed in other sports such as football. Does football have blood and hair testing? Due to the finances, it's hard to believe that cycling is the worst offending sport. I have a wild unproven theory that bigger sports with more money simple use the latest PED's that are currently undetectable. Alternatively, cycling may simply be at the cutting edge of testing and hence produces more positive results.

  • Comment number 5.

    @ no.3 but it wouldn't stop at doping, you'd then have athletes replacing limbs with artificial bits and pieces, it wouldn't be a human sport anymore.

    and the point that plenty of athletes who have doped have led healthy lives afterwards is ridiculous. imagine if there were no limits and they weren't holding back - can you think what they would look like? it wouldn't be a contest of who is the fastest, it would be an arms race of who has the best doctors, researchers and doping methods.

    stupid and short-sighted idea.

    aside from pharmaceutical companies, can you think of any sponsors which would actually fund this?

  • Comment number 6.

    I take exception to some of what was said, however I also totally agree with some points made.
     
    First of all let me say that I'm not at all surprised that the UCI have not contested the USADAs finding, not just because the evidence speaks for itself but also because I suspect there are some awkward questions they would rather not have to answer.
     
    I am disappointed that the UCI have shown themselves to be arrogant enough to refuse to accept any culpability whatsoever for what happened. As the sports governing body they MUST accept some blame at some level. At best they were badly managed and too incompetent to do their job sufficiently, at worst they were complicit in the goings on at the time. Either way they are culpable at some level.
     
    That said I fully agree with McQuaid that the athletes themselves must accept responsibility. Its all very well for the likes of Millar to get all high and mighty now about speaking out, doing this, that and the other but his own doping notwithstanding if he was that much of a reformed character why did he not speak out against others still doping even when he had ceased. This isnt something that was taking place only 10-15 years ago but as recently as 2010 and probably still to this day. And the same goes for every other cyclist, team manager, physio, doctor and so on.
     
    This code of silence amongst the riders needs to be eradicated, and the cheats named and shamed. If that means ousting 30, 40 or even 50% plus of the riders then so be it. And those brave enough to speak out should be rewarded. Too often you hear that this is 'bad' for cycling and that the public will find it difficult to trust cyclists. This is exactly why. Virtually every rider (and I include many of the clean ones) has been complicit in keeping this story under wraps for one reason or another. This code of silence is the reason the public struggle to trust the sport. The competitors need to remember that it is the support of the public that allow them their standing, to gain their monies and popularity. But this needs to be a two way street. Cyclists need to be honest for the sake of the viewing public. With that will come the trust. Even the often honest and candid Bradley Wiggins choked in his interview when the question was asked if he knew what was going on. His reaction said he did, even if his words did not (although he didnt actually state that he didnt know). So even if Brad rides clean, but rides knowing others are not this is still part of the problem

  • Comment number 7.

    Just taking Armstrong slightly out of the equation for the moment, the period of his TdF titles was still during the period when drug use was at its height in cycling. If "everybody" was doing it did he gain any advantage.

    I do agree with #2 though about the guys who didn't use drugs and left becuase they could get nowhere.

    It's sad sad period for cycling and it will take real leadership from the top to change peoples perceptions of the sport. The teams, the riders and the governing body all need to come together and come up with a workable plan for the furture.

    Its such a shame though because cycling in this country is going through something of a renaissance and it could be very easily stunted by all of this.

  • Comment number 8.

    Personally I'm not really sure what the UCI were supposed to do during the appropriately titled early noughties. Had they come out and stated that they thought that most of the peloton was doping, it would have killed off the sport - not just destroying the careers of those that were doping, but also all those riders and support staff that had nothing to do with it.

    What they have done is crank up the testing (including being the first body to introduce biological passports and I think the first to ban on those results alone) to such a level that there is now very little benefit to cyclists doping. Current cyclists even recent Tour winners like Wiggins, Evans and Contador are all performing at levels that can credibly be achieved without doping. That doesn't mean they haven't used doping as a shortcut to success, but it is highly improbable that it is widespread as it once was. Any criticism I have for the UCI is more to do with how long it took them to crackdown. However, I'm pretty happy now with the testing regime in cycling and think that they are light-years ahead of most other sports. I'm of the view that anyone who thinks that no other sports have a serious doping problem is incredibly naive. I'd be very pleased, but absolutely amazed, if there isn't team level doping in any number of sports.

    My only slight concern in all this is the seemingly disproportionate response to doping. Yes it's wrong, and yes it should be punished sufficiently heavily to put people off - I've no problem with that. However, as a former rugby player I'd far rather a member of the opposition was doping than they gouged my eyes/stamped on my head/broke an arm or leg/etc. Yet the former would get them a two year ban, and the latter probably 3-6 months. Collapsing scrums is another one, it seems to be the default response to a bad hit - it may be quite rare, but players can and have been paralysed as a result, yet it rarely gets more than a penalty and often not even that. To me there are some fairly messed up priorities there.

  • Comment number 9.

    Armstrong is no scape goat. His ego is boundless, cheated all the way through his career, took the mickey by winning 7 on the trot, retire when the drug testers are catching up, come back when he has better cheating methods and arrogantly go for his 8th 9th 10th tours. Had he just cheated a couple of tours he may have had a better chance of getting away with it but NO, he had to have the most. It's the greed that pulled down his operation, all those people who knew the truth and couldn't bear to see him swanning around as the don of cycling.

  • Comment number 10.

    6.
    At 11:58 23rd Oct 2012, Dave Hedgehog wrote:


    A very good piece Dave. you ever thought of writing for the BBC?

  • Comment number 11.

    It is perhaps time for cycling's national bodies, sponsors, teams and major event organisers to secede from involvement with UCI and create a completely new body that has no suggestion of being complicit by its inaction and complacency of many decades.

    How many crises (McQuaid's "opportunities") does the UCI need. Festina in the 90s came as no surprise to anyone with even the most passing interest in cycling. It was not the first warning nor was it the last so why 20 years on is there still clearly a problem?

  • Comment number 12.

    A can of worms has been opened that can not be shut. I would imagine the dopers over the last 40 odd years would run into the thousands and yes it does feel like Armstrong is a scapegoat in all this but according to evidence he masterminded the doping for himself and the team.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm probably the only person here who's delighterd with all this, after the abuse i've received here from cycling fans when i criticise their sport.

    hardcore cycling fans are in denial about the doping culture. The fact is any clean cyclist during Armstrongs time was bullied into submission. All the others were doping, yet we were constantly told cycling is 'clean.'

    This is an incredible cover-up which everyone from the riders to the fans is responsible for.

  • Comment number 14.

    Accepting money from the riders is a sign of corruption of the UCI. If those on the board didn't have the foresight to recognise that, they are either dim or corrupt. The rumours were rampant back then and written, and given their access to data it's as if the UCI didn't want to know. I certainly didn't; but I'm not a governing body. Armstrong is a fraud and hopefully will repay money to victims of his crime and go to jail for longer than Marion Jones.
    He makes the early East German Olympic doping regime seem amateurish. Also we
    see he is one of the great bully thugs of our time.

  • Comment number 15.

    @3 Because it's not safe. Tom Simpson died on the Ventoux with drugs being a large factor. I don't think that a doping culture where cyclists have to get on a trainer at 3am to get their blood moving should be accepted

  • Comment number 16.

    I'de like to think guys like Vaughters and Millar make absolutely no income ever from cycling. We seem them out there big noting themselves and Vaughters saying they're cleaning up the sport. These are the same pushy individuals who were into doping and telling the newcomers in the sport how to get ahead previously. These guys are supposedly reformed frauds but in Vaughters case I see a little Armstrong.

  • Comment number 17.

    As a lover of cycling for over 30 years the Armstrong doping scandal casts a huge shadow over the sport and the legitamacy of the results from the early 90's to the current day.

    Unfortunately, the current cyclists will not be tarred regardless if they are clean or not which mean that as an Olympic sport the IOC should be seriously considering wiping all results since the early 90's and banning cycling and the UCI from the Olympic family.

    This is a sport now in a dark crisis. It is only worth pointing out that the top 3 in the Tour of Spain all convicted drug cheats. It is still going on.

    Finally, Armstrong was an inspiration to me and millions of others. To be a systematic cheat does bring into focus that the majority of sports stars should never be idiolised.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    @17. When was J-Rod convicted?

  • Comment number 20.

    The best start to start with a clean slate for all sports is to give life time bans to all dopers

  • Comment number 21.

    Throughout all of this, David Millar appears to be the only person who can make a mental distinction between the UCI now and the UCI pre-McQuaid's presidency. A major focus of this article is on how the UCI appeared to fear the repercussions for the sport from doing anything against the will of Armstrong, the star of the sport. Upon Armstrong's initial retirement Alberto Contador replaced him as the best cyclist in the world and the figurehead of the sport. Indeed, even when Lance returned it was Contador who was team leader in Astana, not Lance. Yet, when Contador tested positive for clenbuterol, it was the UCI and Wada working together who got Contador banned from the sport. Remember the Spanish cycling association cleared him, and the UCI took the figurehead of their sport and participant (in 2010 with Schleck) of one of the greatest tours ever to CAS, and won.

    For me, those aren't the actions of a body unwilling to combat doping. The fallacy that cycling in the Armstrong era and cycling today are the same needs to be combated. USADA have continually claimed their investigation against Lance (and this was undoubtedly an investigation with an aim of finding one person guilty, not cleaning up a sport) was for the good of cycling. Right now, I find it very hard to see what good they have done for the sport. Old wounds have been re-opened in a way that has never been done in other sports. For instance, you look at athletics, were we to open up an investigation (not that one is needed as the evidence is already conclusive) to prove Marita Koch and others from East Germany cheated would we vilify that sport in the same way? Her ridiculous world record in the 400m of 47.60 seconds still stands and, if the UCI is going to be put under the microscope in this way, I think it's high time we started looking at other major organisations and they way they handle cheating and corruption in their sports. We could do worse than start with Fifa...

  • Comment number 22.

    It has just taken far too long to get to where we are now. The USADA report suggests this is the biggest most sophisticated doping ring ever, which seems to be nonsense to me. Balco seems to be much more sophisticated to me - at least they had drugs to hide the other drugs, and so on. If you can avoid problems by hiding (not answering the door - lots of comments on that one), by posting lookouts for testers, by using a saline solution or by post dating a prescription (Armstrong's Cortisone), then you don't need to be sophisticated.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    The titles shouldn't just be re-allocated to the rider in second place. There has been huge focus naturally on Lance and his team doping but I'm afraid that anyone near the top was probably doing it too. A lot of riders and teams will now come under historical scrutiny. What happens to the sport if the title is awarded to someone else and then they are exposed for doping too? The public has no confidence in Quaid's leadership.

  • Comment number 25.

    Pat McQuaid describes Landis and Hamilton as scumbags. It's certainly true they are no saints - both went to extraordinary lengths to cover up their doping for years before coming clean and riding the wave of confession, which obviously is going to make them attractive to the media and the public, and make them money. But then, the UCI are in an identical position to those two riders...the governing body has for a long time refused to acknowledge that doping went on (McQuaid's predecessor Hein Verbruggen's comments that "I know Armstrong has not doped") even going as far as potentially ignoring what they saw, and yet now they think by casting LA into the shadows everything will be OK for them. Wrong. The culture of corruption and duplicitiousness runs in cycling's blood. Time for one of those infamous, large scale transfusions...

  • Comment number 26.

    no.3 - it's just wrong. It would be like Formula 1 - a battle of technology than of people. And I have no interest in F1 either.

  • Comment number 27.

    Disappointed in the coverage by the UK media, yet again, did anyone else notice the amount of UK based journalist at yesterday's press conference? I heard questions from the Telegraph, the Mail and the Times. All notable for their extensive coverage of cycling. The usual subjects in for the feeding frenzy sod the positives of how the sport over the last seven years has really being cleaned up; increased participation etc. This story is old news, the French sports paper L'Equipe has being running it for years with no support, now they have been proved right.
    The French Cycling Magazine Cyclosport had an article in their October issue (see their editorial of that issue) that highlighted that more cheats have been caught by the police and other investigative agencies than have been caught by doping testing programmes. This was a point touched on by Pat McQuaid yesterday. The effects of the testing programmes are limited and when it is the only tool that you have in your tool box you aren't going to have much success. I'd back the UCI and I think they deserve the support of the media rather than the constant bitching that seems to be issued in their direction. When Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis were accusing the UCI that they were being victimised, the UCI and Pat McQuaid stood up and said that all the UCI was interested in was a clean sport and not ex cyclist that had been sanctioned for substance abuse. Suprisingly these stories about the UCi don't make the pages of the Telegraph, Mail and the Times. And the issue about the 100k is a none story, there are not many associations outside of football that can afford to turn down 100k donations, no matter who the source of the donation is.

  • Comment number 28.

    10 redpirate

    Thank you. I've not been considered for the bbc before but if there is a vacancy I'd be willing to listen to their offer! :-D

  • Comment number 29.

    @ no.26 while I think the proposal by no.3 is ridiculous, also think your suggestion that f1 is only a battle of technology is equally ridiculous - care to explain why the top 4 in the championship standings are all from different teams?

    surely if it was a battle of technology, the standings would show the two drivers from each team side by side in the standings....?

    the fact is, at the top of the sport it is the drivers which make the difference.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think DaveR is absolutly right. Until the UCI can understand that they too are culpable for the state of sport over the period in question reform will be impossible. The UCI has seemed to take their normal stance of 'discust and surprise' at the allogations that are now surfacing with such a voice that they, the UCI, cannot simply ignore it and put their head in the sand.

    I think Armstrong's actions are only part of a much bigger problem, perhaps a very large part but only A part. I wish he would admit what he did and explain how the UCI were complicit if they indeed were. Over 20 years of systematic drugs use by teams and riders and the UCI had no idea?! What have they been doing with all the money 'donated' by teams and Lance?

  • Comment number 31.

    Number 3 - As an organisation, any sporting organisation you surely have a duty of care to the athletes, so allowing them to dope at will, causing who knows what harm to themselves, would fail athletes.

    Even if you allow people to dope, people will always push the boundaries to find better doping for their purposes.

  • Comment number 32.

    2 no.3

    interesting idea but as no. 5 states, this will definitely become a competition of who has the best medical team, and think of the health and physical toll this might also have on the athletes. this will also effectively mean that potential athletes will start doping as early as 13 years of age depending on the sporting discipline, and this would drastically shorten their sporting careers. we all love usain bolt because of what he's capable doing as a man, no a man propelled by drugs.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    If these "scumbags" should be thrown out of cycling, why did those that finally spoke up only get a six month ban?

    They still doped, they still lied and they covered it up.

    "Nailing" Armstrong was the only reason, and is seemingly good enough to be able to continue your career, if you haven't already retired.

    The UCI are at best incompetent and at worst corrupt.

    Will anyone resign? Erm..a governing body in sport not answerable to anyone, I've heard this before somewhere..

  • Comment number 35.

    I'll try again, in wishy washy BBC-speak. Perhaps Mr McQuaid should consider (or not) resigning, as his comments yesterday may (or may not) be interpreted that he has the qualities he accused Hamilton and Landis of having. The UCI and FIFA sometimes appear to be quite remote from the sports they govern, and their priorities do not always appear to be aligned with best interests of the sports they represent.

  • Comment number 36.

    FIFA, THE IOC, THE UCI.............................. world organisations who are the "guardians of their sports". Look at their conduct these past twenty years, the trade in blinkers seems to have had much trade. To cleanse a sport, you have to have leadership who wants to lead in that direction................

  • Comment number 37.

    The UCI doesn't come out of this looking all that clever. A change at the top could clear the air a little. At the same time some of the reporting is a little hysterical. Why Armstrong's 100,000 dollar payment to the UCI I an "alarming claim?" It was widely reported when it happened. It's nothing new.

  • Comment number 38.

    It's simple, McQuaid, you must go - you are a major part of the problem and no part of the future of cycling. Hamilton is right and you are slurring him to deflect attention from the hugely grubby past of the UCI and your part in it. Millar is being far too kind to you. You MUST have known about LA; you MUST have known about LA's payments to the UCI.

    You are as in denial on doping as LA. Go now, McQuaid.

  • Comment number 39.

    There is no place for you in cycling McQuaid! People like you are part of the problem. You reckon that Landis & Hamilton are no heroes, but you seem to be ignoring the obvious; what they are doing & have done is doing a hell of lot more to clean up cycling than you, your organization & and all the other inept administrators have done or ever would do for that matter. You needed a bomb under you & it seems like you still need a bomb under you to wake you from your hypercritical slumber. Your organization is as guilty as anyone. You guys are like the Pontius Pilate of the cycling world; washing your hands & attacking everyone else without accepting responsibility. You wish you could have caught every damn one of them. Then stop attacking the people who are trying to help expose cyclings sordid past. They may just be able to help you get this catastrophe cleaned up, you old fool? Clean out all the incomponents and start anew with new administrators who don't bury their head in the sand and complain & criticize. Even blind Freddy can see the importance of working with previous offenders to sort this out. Stop acting so precious & be a bit more logical & open minded & maybe young talented cyclists will never have to go down this road again. Are you really concerned about cycling or just your own job?

  • Comment number 40.

    So they are now making LA pay back all his winnings! shouldnt every winner of every race pay back theres to not being caught as a user doesnt mean you are not a user.. UCI need to take responsibility for what went on! maybe everyone involved resigning or UCI being closed and a new governing body set up that we can all believe in! One other question if LA admits to doping will he be able to manage a team as is Riis? the whole thing is a tatal disaster for all involved

  • Comment number 41.

    "I am not convinced by all these riders who have suddenly come out and testified and said they were forced into doping"

    Bit of an over-simplification there, I think - I don't think anyone has claimed they were 'forced' into doping....Zabriskie perhaps the closest, but even he accepts full responsibility for his actions.

    I'm actually starting to feel slightly sorry for Armstrong. The UCI must not be allowed to pretend that a horrendous era in their sports history was entirely down to one man's actions....it can't possibly have been. McQuaid's reaction stinks of an attempt to pile the blame elswhere and then shutdown the debate, which is absolutely the last way to truly solve the problem for the long term. Millar was spot-on in his critique: McQuaid wants Armstrong to be forgotten, yet if he truly cared about the long term cleanliness of the sport he should be putting things in place to ensure that Armstrong and the Armstrong era is never, ever forgotten!

    And McQuaid calling Hamilton and Landis 'scumbags' is just absolutely mind-blowing. Just shows how disingenuous all of his previous hot air about thanking witnesses for coming forward had been, and is a real window into the UCI culture that he was and is a part of

  • Comment number 42.

    While I'm no longer an admirer of Armstrong .Please read Wikipedia Tour de France Winners -Doping.Then ,to ensure fairness and consistency,can someone offer me a reasoned account of why the name of every Winner(cheat-who ACTUALLY failed a doping test or admitted doping during their careers)since at least 1960 and probably before is not also to be removed By the UCI from the record for All UCI events not only the TdF
    This will include Contador,Merckx,Indurain,Pantani and many other so called legends including, dare I say it Tom Simpson

  • Comment number 43.

    In the interests of balance, it's worth pointing out that Dr Martial Saugy has been widely quoted as saying that the 2001 test result mentioned by Floyd Landis would not be classed as a positive EPO reading even by today's procedures: http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cycling/armstrong-test-result-not-proof-20121021-27zj4.html This therefore casts doubt on both Landis' testimony in this regard, and also unfortunately the claim made by David Bond in this article (which I presume is taken from USADA's report). I am also of the opinion that testimony from a person convicted of doping themselves, and with a finding of defamation against their name, should at best be taken with a grain of salt, to say nothing of testimony from others with a known axe to grind and doping convictions against their own names.

    For the record, I do not claim to know either way whether Lance Armstrong is a drugs cheat - if he is, then he has been punished anyway. What I do believe, however, is that contrary to their claims USADA's reasoned decision does not prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that he is a drugs cheat, as that is a judgment only a court of law can determine. All it has proven is that there is a prima facie case to answer, albeit one based in part on questionable testimony and erroneous reporting of results (or so it would appear). As such, for me this has the hallmarks of political wrangling between two governing authorities and a desire to make an example of someone - otherwise, surely all those who doped and testified should also have been banned for life?

  • Comment number 44.

    cant believe people still saying they, and say they not just LA weren't cheating.
    As for saying "thats a judgement only a court of law" rubbish, i'll judge him as lifelong fan of cycling and no one on there soap box can say diferent.
    get the splinters out your bum.. a cheats a cheat is a cheat. lance Armstrong is a cheat and a liar.

  • Comment number 45.

    While cycling may have had a few doped riders the blogs are far more intelligent than the opinions expressed on Andrew Bensons F1 comments. I'm suggesting at least cyclists get oxygen into their bodies, while F1 racers inbibe fumes. Can't see this helping Lance Armstrong though.

  • Comment number 46.

    David Millar has got it absolutely right.

    McQuaid has to go as does Verbruggen. McQuaid argues that he came in after the Armstrong years. That much is true but he was in charge when USADA were chasing Armstrong and the UCI did their best to prevent USADA from doing their job. He has been one of the parties undermining Paul Kimmage for years. (Going to be interesting to see the outcome of the defammation proceedings that McQuaid has bought against Mr. Kimmage now.) No, we need McQuaid out and out NOW.

    Verbruggen. Well, what can you say. He's honary president of the UCI. Joke, there is no way that he should be involved with the UCI or any other sporting body. As worst, he was complicit in what was going on and, at best, totally incompetent.

    Cycling needs drug testing to be done totally and absolutely independently For McQuaid to say that, even now, he would accept donations from riders is so far wrong, I almost can[t believe he's on this planet.

  • Comment number 47.

    @44: Petty insults notwithstanding, I would be grateful if you would refrain from accusations of speaking "rubbish" or standing on a soapbox. The principle I stated is a widely-accepted aspect of due process, and is factually and legally correct. You are entitled to your own opinion on this matter (as am I), but pretending it carries the weight of a court judgment is spurious at best. That is why I regard USADA's opinion of the strength of their case with ambivalence - they lack the jurisdiction to draw such conclusions. Contrary to your claims, I am not sitting on the fence - I am a proponent of the maxim "innocent until proven guilty", and until such a time as a court of law (or equivalent) determines that Lance Armstrong did indeed dope I will maintain that position. You are welcome to disagree - that is the basis of civilised debate, after all.

    Incidentally, I take it from your "a cheats[sic] a cheat is a cheat" comment that you also believe that all those who testified should be banned for life alongside Armstrong?

  • Comment number 48.

    Why are Hamilton et al being lauded as heroes by the media?

    They cheated and doped their way to $millions, then 14 years later came out and admitted it when they all happen to be finished with their careers and trying to sell books.

    Armstrong is far from the only cheat here but everything seems to be focusing on him and upwards and letting the grasses go free with a friendly pat on the back.

    n.b. All the pros saying how much cleaner the sport is these days are the same pros that said it was clean in 2002, so I still take every word with a large pinch of salt.

  • Comment number 49.

    @48, I can only assume it is Hamilton's media friendly approach, appearing on the BBC's peddlars programme and doing countless further interviews, which means he is being treated as some sort of hero.

    The reality is he is a cheat who got caught and has subsequently profited from it, in the form of a very well timed book-release. For those people who still don't get this, bbc journalists included, Tyler Hamilton is every bit as bad as Lance Armstrong. He is not someone who came forward and admitted to doping but someone who doped, got caught and fought those charges.

  • Comment number 50.

    Cycling will never work when a team has more power than the governing body. UCI must have known what was going on and it wasnt just USpostal or Discovery.. You also have to ask yourself is it Sky in the modern day a new team lots of money and and excellent marketing for cycling. Just because a drug cheat tells all dos not make him inocent does hamilton or landis have to pay back there winnings. As i see it LA has made one mistake not going to the authorities first.. A 6 Month Ban would have been all he endured! Punishments are not proportional these cyclists were not tied down and injected against there will!

  • Comment number 51.

    I'm 55 years old, and ever since I became aware of cycling as a sport, I have also been aware that it is dirty. it seems it has always been dirty, and if recent results are anything to go on... it will remain dirty for a long time to come..

    I just find it amazing that anybody actually follows it, or takes it seriously... (and I do believe the physical demands of the big tours , if raced clean deserve to be taken seriously) . I'd love to believe recent Brit success has been done clean, but history niggles...

    No dirty from the top down would be my opinion...

  • Comment number 52.

    I would say get Scott Mercier to be the UCI chief. This guy has the gut to give up the sport in his prime because of refusing to dope right from the beginning.

    This guy McQuaid is dodgy as anything. Before the doping allegation, he used strong words to defend Lance. Now all fires break loose, he distance himself immediately like never knew Lance. This doping saga will burn him as much as Lance.

  • Comment number 53.

    @44 a fair point but Lance waived his right to fight the case against him but you will get to see pretty much the same evidence used against Johann Bruyneel who is fighting his case.

    Because Lance waived his right all usada could do was pass there Reasoned Decision to the UCI it was then up to the UCI if they wished to accept it or not

  • Comment number 54.

    has anyone considered that maybe amstrong donated the money because he wanted the cheats caught, that he had to compete cleanly against cheats?

    everyone assumes amstrong is guilty, the evidence would not stand in a court of law, all hear say. is it not possible he is telling the truth, he never doped, he donated the money to help clean a sport he had to compete in whislt clean even though noone else at the top was... but he;s not a rat, he didnt complain about the dopers, he just went on, competed fairly against the cheats.

    we need to give him respect.

  • Comment number 55.

    I think a few things need clearing up, again

    Firstly the reason this has not gone to court is because Armstrong CHOSE not to contest the charges. Under the impression that the details would not be released. As events transpired the details were released anyway.

    Secondly someone saying the saw Armstrong dope is NOT hearsay or conjecture. That is witness testimony. It is credible in court. To say it us not us to suggest that I could murder someone in front of 11 people but as long as I don't leave any forensic evidence they couldn't convict. Ludicrous.

  • Comment number 56.

    @55 why is a proven cheat's word better than an unproven cheat (LA). Many people will say anything to save there own skin. I am sure a good lawyer would pull his testimony to bits.

  • Comment number 57.

    @54 the evidence isnt hearsay it was witness testimony which is of course applicable in a court of law! Please dont sound like you know what you are talking about when you clearly dont!

    The testimony of over 20 witnesses (some of which have debatable motives it must be noted), would be enough to send anyone to jail for a crime they committed. The fact that Lance Armstrong has not fought the case is because he would never win a court.

  • Comment number 58.

    songokugolf, you having a laugh?

    So 26 people, including 11 former team mates witnessed Lance dope, but every single one of them is a liar whose testimony would not hold up in court?

    So the top 10 ascent times up the Alpe d'Huez are 9 proven dopers and a clean Lance Armstrong....sitting at the very top of the list?

    So he raced in a peloton up to their eyeballs in EPO and beat them in every big race for the best part of a decade on nothing but bread and water?

    I admit that there may be an over-villification of Lance Armstrong given the nature of the sport in his era of dominance, but there comes a point when clinging onto the belief that he was clean becomes an exercise in self-delusion. That point has been reached. Go get your head checked-out.

  • Comment number 59.

    UCI are a joke, a disgrace to the sport and need disbanding. McQuaid has tried to take credit for cleaning up cycling when in fact it has been the police and law enforcement agency which have uncovered the major doping scandals in recent times,(Festina, Operation puerto, Michele Ferrari, Armstrong).

    Rather than be at the forefront of cleaning up cycling, UCI have been poorly reactive not proactive. Robert Millar has written a good blog on cyclingnews.com on this subject that's worth a read.

    Have to say, even after all this has all come out, the ignorant, jaw-dropping comments from some Spanish current pros has disappointed me. Sanchez and Valverde comments along with a distinct lack of anti-doping message from ANY Spanish riders show attitudes towards doping in the peloton are, even today, mixed.

  • Comment number 60.

    Doping has been rampant in cycling for years,it's a tool of the trade. UCI has little credibility either and looks like an enabler and a benefactor. It's time to clean house and start over.Heads need to roll.

  • Comment number 61.

    I have to say I was appalled by the quality of the questions asked of McQuaid at the UCI's press conference. McQuaid batted most off with weasel words and barely a decent follow-up was heard.

    The UCI's actual position was seen in the documents released later that day on why they decided not to challenge USADA's reasoned decision.

    There were more words spent on how USADA should have ceded the process to them, their belief that they should have been the ultimate arbiter, that WADA or Armstrong himself should appeal to CAS, as the titles removed fell outside the eight year statute, than those used to condemn Armstrong himself for bringing such a crisis on the sport.

    Then there came the explanation of the suspicious result at the 2001 Tour de Suisse and how its inaction wasn't linked to the donations by Armstrong.

    But what has been overlooked by journalists is not just that test in isolation, but the test in the following years Dauphine Libere, the race before that years Tour de France.

    According to Martial Saugy, the director of the Lausanne laboratory that carried out the tests, once the suspect test was found at the 2001 Tour de Suisse, it was reported to the UCI and Armstrong was called in and warned that they would be monitoring the situation.

    In May 2002, the UCI has confirmed, Armstrong made a donation of $25,000 to them by personal cheque. What the cheque was for is unclear, no fine was levied, apparently it just appeared.

    Then between the 9th and 16th of June 2002 Armstrong took part in the Dauphiné Liberé, a race he would go on to win. It was later discovered that Armstrong had given another suspicious finding at a doping control, this time found by a different laboratory.

    According to Saugy "The UCI said to me at the end of June 2002: 'we warned the rider for whom you had a suspect result in 2001, he gave another suspect return at another lab and he would like to know by which method it was tested'." Saugy said. "The rider was Armstrong. It was then that I learned about it.

    The link below details the dates and test involved. It's writer too fails to connect the date of the payment to the UCI and the second suspect doping control.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/armstrongs-2001-sample-was-suspect-but-not-positive-says-head-of-lausanne-lab

    I find it extremely concerning that the UCI sat down with Armstrong to discuss the second suspect sample, within weeks of having received a payment of $25,000 from him. There appears to have been no firm action taken, other than another warning, as a result of this second suspect test.

    They will no doubt protest that there was no undue influence in the process, by the donation the previous month, but this will only stretch credulity to breaking point. They complain that USADA was too invested in their case to make a reasonable decision on Armstrong's case. Their hypocrisy in this stance, bearing in mind the case above, is plain to see.

    The only reason Travis Tygard released the reasoned decision was to ensure that the UCI had to act, with the rest of the world having seen the evidence and knowing they had nowhere left to hide the body.

    What is now required is for the IOC to decide that it will exclude cycling from the Olympics, stating that it has no faith in the anti-doping stance of the UCI or it's powers of governance. Then we might see the National cycling associations, the national anti-doping bodies and WADA combining to remove the UCI from the equation altogether.

    Till then cycling will remain a tainted sport, with a governing body more interested in covering its own collective backs to worry about the future good name of its sport.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    Seen a few comments on here about David Millar and I'll agree that in many ways there's nothing worse than an ex-doper. It's very similar to an Ex-Smoker who berates and moans at friends who are still smoking, you almost want to take them outside and "have a word." Millar served his ban and had his victories struck from the record, for a cyclist those two things alone are hard to take. You then have the problem of being a convicted cheat when trying to come back to the sport. You'll be under suspicion from the clean riders and shunned by the current dopers which means the whole peloton is against you, not easy at all.

    All that aside David Millar IS trying to ensure that in the future nobody else is put in the same position as he was. Read his book and then tell me that there is a clear line between being clean and being a cheat? He stayed clean for a long period of time before eventually being ground into submission and crossing a very blurry line. When you're a new rider trying to ride clean and yet the peloton is pretty much doping as soon as the hammer goes down at the front you're shipped out the back. Now there's only so long that you can take that kind of punishment before you either quit, get fired or you cross the line!

    I read David's book about a month ago and in many ways it made me angry but I did find a new respect for him and what he is now trying to achieve. What helps is that he is a very eloquent speaker and when he's not on his high horse he does have a lot of very good things to say.

  • Comment number 64.

    "But, incredulous as this might seem, he revealed ..."

    The right word here is 'incredible'. I am incredulous that a BBC journalist does not understand the difference. Incredible!

  • Comment number 65.

    It beggars belief, given that the use of PED's and blood doping was so rife, that we are expected to believe that those serving with the UCI were not in the slightest bit aware how big the problem was. These are people that not only have a background of competitive cycling but are in touch with riders, doctors, team manager’s et al., on a daily basis. And yet we are expected to believe that the UCI today is shocked at the level of systematic doping that had been going on for a decade. What kind of fools do these people take us for?

    For Quaid to basically say we did our best at the time is simply laughable and treats the sporting fan with contempt. The USADA report points out (via other riders testimony accepted) that testers didn’t follow up if cyclists didn’t open the door when they knocked. They often made appointments to test rather that appear unannounced and that it wasn’t unusual at all for teams to know when testers were coming. Can Quaid really say that the UCI couldn’t have done more? On the organisation of testing alone he and his management committee are guilty of complacency due to the cosy arrangement that they have with teams and sponsors.
    He also contends that the donation from Armstrong was not a cover up of a suspicious test. Well, even if it wasn't, the fact that the UCI accepted a donation from a cyclist still competing at the highest level, should be viewed at best as naive and only goes to underline the lack of fundamental principles of good management that exist at the top of world sport.

    These aren’t your average pen pushing clerks, these are highly paid administrators at the top of a world sport.

    As for the cyclists themselves, dirty and clean, I'm afraid they all share culpability.

    This constant droning on about the "Omerta" as if it is some twisted code of chivalry that they all feel obliged to abide by is a smokescreen. . It's just a word that sounds more palatable that lying. They didn't sign up to a code of silence, they signed up to lying, pure and simple.

    Like everyone else I have been part fascinated and part disgusted by this whole charade. At the end of the day the UCI just got caught out , like the long list of cyclists that have been caught before them, though one suspects the larger percentage are still out there awaiting the knock on the door.

    Sadly, I suspect that that what has happened in cycling is just the beginning.
    It’s just a matter of time before the whole house of cards which is World sport comes tumbling down behind it. I fear there are much worse revelations to come.

  • Comment number 66.

    Professional Cycling needs a complete overhaul. The omerta remains in place. Attitudes have still not changed, especially on the continent. Over recent days we have had the likes of Sanchez, Valverde and Contador continuing to praise Armstrong's achievements and attacking the riders who gave witness statements to the USADA. You still have riders denying taking drugs despite being caught with rare (& banned) chemicals (clenbuterol / xipamide) in their blood stream and being supported by their federations and sections of the media.

    I think an amnesty is needed first to clear the air and draw a line under this, then harsher punishments need to be brought in for failing/missing tests etc.

    I think a min 2 year ban for those who come clean (post amnesty) with a 4 year ban for those who do not, which migth get rid of the ridiculous denials we have to endure (spanish beef etc etc).

    On top of the bans results should be stripped for the at leaste 1-2 years prior to a failed test (and period up to a ban being imposed).

    Then the ban itself should be from all racing for 2-4 years and not back dated to remove the ridiculous situation where a 2 year ban only means 6 months off (for training).

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    @ 47 The USDA lack the jurisdiction to make such claims? erm...the fact that they’re the governing doping authority means that they have the right to make the claim that armstrong is guilty, which they have...

    It doesn't need to be brought to a court of law as the sport is governed by the UCI and the doping side by the USDA.
    However, it looks as though it may go to a court of law in light of armstrongs numerous financial deals, and the weight of their evidence IS overwhelming- I’m sure it would be proved beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law if the case of whether armstrong was guilty of doping is brought.

    Have you read the report? It's not just witness testimony’s which form the basis of evidence (even if it was, this would still be accepted in a court of law), but numerous blood tests (e.g. the 99 tour test's some of which had a 100% ratio of rEPO to endogenous EPO) that form the evidence and in my eyes and I think would be more than enough for a court of law. Obviously that’s my opinion, but i think if you read the whole report you would come to the same conclusion!

  • Comment number 70.

    David,
    A proportion of each team's UCI ProTour registration annual fee is guaranteed to be spent on anti-doping measures - testing, developing new procedures etc. This is neither a new revelation, nor a bad thing.

    Even if the Armstrong saga trumps Balco (I'm not sure it does), it is not "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen" - it is the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has YET DISCOVERED. Bigger and "better" doping programs exist, in sports richer than cycling. Look how little other sports did when Operacion Puerto discovered organised blood doping - whilst cycling suspended riders from the Tour de France, no footballers were suspended from the World Cup, no tennis players suspended from Wimbledon. It's a shame journalists put all their efforts into invective at cycling, whereas for example Marion Jones merely "never tested positive". Every governing body organises its sport to be a success and that is inextricably linked to the financial consequences of scandals. Armstrong survived for as long as he did with big money lawyers and nasty threats. Other sports have far bigger stakes and resources to keep things quiet.

    You have 46 sports listed on the homepage, they fit into three categories:
    a) There really is no doping or cheating going on, it not only looks squeaky clean but is squeaky clean
    b) There is doping, at least some of the dopers are being caught and the sport appears dirty, to its own detriment.
    c) There is doping, but very little is done about it and it appears squeaky clean when it is actually extremely dirty.
    Cycling is a (b), so much poor journalism naively places most other sports in (a) not (c). Wake up, smell the coffee - please explain what other sports are doing that cycling isn't in the fight against doping that justifies such focus on just one of many doping-riddled sports.

  • Comment number 71.

    The 2013 UCI Road World Championships will take place in Florence, in Tuscany, between 21 and 29 September 2013.

    Someone has a GSOH.... with regard to choice of mascot..

    http://www.toscana2013.it/?page=12

 

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