Pressure is growing on International Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen to resign in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping revelations after former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Dick Pound claimed “it is not credible” they did not know what was happening.
Armstrong’s reputation is in tatters after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) published a report this week calling him a serial cheat that led “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
The UCI have continued to deny claims that they were involved in helping to cover up the scandal but Pound, who was head of WADA from 1999 to 2007, says it is impossible they were unaware of Armstrong’s antics, with the American having now been stripped of his seven Tour de France wins.
“It is not credible that they didn’t know this was going on,” said Pound. “I had been complaining to UCI for years. Where the rubber really hits the road is with UCI. If they persist with denial, then they put their whole sport in jeopardy because these investigations may spread to the Spanish and Italian pro cycling communities, among others. All these show the same behavior as [Armstrong’s US Postal Service team] and UCI never seemed to be able to deal with it, they can’t be so blind to not know this was going on.”
Pound’s comments come after British cyclist David Millar, a former drugs cheat who is now a leading anti-doping campaigner, called for Verbruggen to resign as UCI Honorary President.
“The first step for the UCI is for Verbruggen to be removed,” said Millar. “He was at the head of the organization with the biggest doping problem in the history of sport. He’s still there. He should admit that mistakes were made and we have all made mistakes. But the UCI is not a commercial company so there is no one to answer to.”
Journalist David Walsh, one of the leading reporters on the issue who first claimed Armstrong was doping back in 1999, has also called for McQuaid and Verbruggen to step down.
“Millar, from the current generation of cyclists, has called for Verbruggen to resign,” Walsh wrote in The Sunday Times on October 14. “It shouldn’t just be the Honorary Life President. The current President, McQuaid, should also leave. With either involved, UCI cannot be credible.”
“The sport has made progress but under the watch of McQuaid and Verbruggen it became a parody of fair competition,” Walsh continued. “If they’re not prepared to do the honorable thing, they should be forced out.”
McQuaid has admitted he is “shocked” by the USADA revelation but remains defiant. “The sport has moved on,” he said. “The peloton today is completely different. There is big damage to the image of the sport, but the sport is going very well. The UCI has received the dossier [from USADA] of 1000 pages so our lawyers are studying that at the moment, and we have 21 days to come up with a response. It would be wrong of me to second guess or pre-empt what our lawyers might decide, so I’d wait until then. The UCI will wait until that work has been done and then the UCI will make a statement.”
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