Pat McQuaid’s claim that the International Cycling Union (UCI) is taking the battle against drugs seriously faces being badly undermined after United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) chief executive Travis Tygart claimed UCI is refusing to allow them to test at one of the country’s biggest events.
Testing at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, a seven-stage race in Colorado due to start on August 19, will not carried out by the USADA after the UCI blocked their requests, Tygart claimed.
“We are going to have the USA Pro Cycling Challenge happen here in a couple of weeks,” Tygart, whose USADA are based in Colorado Springs, told VeloNation. “It’s one of the biggest races in the United States, and absolutely the biggest race in Colorado. Yet the independent agency based in Colorado – which runs the program for the Olympic Movement that is also based in Colorado – is not doing the testing, because the UCI refuses to give up the control. We are confident, just like in seasons past, there won’t be CIR testing [a more precise screen for testosterone], there won’t be human growth hormone testing, there won’t be EPO (Erythropoietin) testing. It is a charade.”
USADA is the organization that compiled the report on Lance Armstrong,which led to the American being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life following systematic doping throughout his career.
“We have had multiple, multiple efforts on our part to do all of the testing that happens in the United States for cycling,” Tygart told VeloNation. “Back in 2011, I personally had a conversation with Pat McQuaid by telephone and said to him, ‘We need to do the testing.’ The Tour of California wants us to do the testing, there is a climate right now in the U.S. that cycling is under siege because of your inaction. The best thing for sport and the best thing for clean athletes is for us, the independent agency, to do the testing.'”
Tygart claims that the UCI also prevented USADA from conducting tests at the Tour of California earlier this year.
“We had sought to do it, and the event organizers wanted us to come in,” said Tygart. “But the UCI did the event competition testing. We did do some pre-competition testing, but the rules of the UCI don’t let us do controls immediately prior to events. We have to stop 72 hours, 48 hours or 24 hours beforehand, depending on the level of the event. There has never been any good reason for us not to be the agency doing the samples. The reason is that they want to control the results. They want to control who is tested and they want to control what is tested for, so they don’t have any issues. It is not by surprise that there hasn’t been any positives from the Tour of California.”
The row will boost the claims of Brian Cookson, the President of British Cycling who is standing against McQuaid in the UCI election in Florence on September 27, that the sport needs to set up its own independent drugs testing system to help restore confidence in its creditability.
“I think we all have to be highly suspect of the testing that is done at those events,” Tygart told VeloNation. “And that is unacceptable and unfair to the athletes and to the organizers who are running those events. Those athletes deserve to be held to the highest standard, because when they have a good performance and they say, ‘Well, we are subject to the UCI’s testing,’ everybody knows that is a charade.”
Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.