October 17, 2012 – The reverberations continue after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) delivered its 1,000-page “reasoned decision” to the UCI last week, citing its case against Lance Armstrong. With testimony from 26 witnesses, USADA contends that Armstrong led, “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
And this week, four voices are speaking out loudly, all critical of the UCI – two of these voices are Canadian.
Today an embattled Armstrong is stepping down as chairman of his Livestrong Foundation to help it limit the damage from the doping scandal and shortly thereafter, Nike announced that it is terminating its personal contract with the cyclist.
Canada’s Michael Barry, a former pro cyclist who rode with Armstrong on the U.S. Postal team and recently admitted to doping, wrote an editorial in Monday’s New York Times entitled, “Cycling Becomes a Cleaner Sport, Not a Safer One.” In that column, Barry discusses better revenue sharing with teams, and claims that he was often poorly advised and suggests that because cycling teams are invariably in a survival mode, ethical lines are easily crossed.
Barry suggests that the UCI only half-heartedly started cracking down on doping after the 1998 Festina Affair. And when Wouter Weylandt died at the 2011 Giro d’Italia, his death on a mountainside was accepted as part of the sport. “The riders’ health often remained secondary to performance and profits, and the environment remained toxic,” writes Barry. He sharply contrasts the situation in cycling to that in Formula One racing, which became safer and more sustainable after Ayrton Senna’s death in 1994.
Meanwhile, Montreal lawyer Dick Pound – who was president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) from 1999 to 2007 – told AFP that something is wrong with the UCI, claiming that they “closed its eyes” to the doping problem. Pound notes that races generally started at 1 or 2 p.m. but no doping tests were conducted beforehand. After the finish line, cyclists benefited from one hour without surveillance. Under such circumstances, EPO or many other doping substances could be easily hidden by taking a saline solution. “You need to ask if the [doping] controls were not deliberately designed to fail?”
Pound took a particular swing at Hein Verbruggen, former president of the UCI (1991-2005). Armstrong’s seven consecutive Tour de France wins (1999 – 2005) were under Verbruggen’s watch. British cyclist David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) has gone farther, asking that Verbruggen be dismissed from his current post of honorary president at the UCI.
Verbruggen is also accused of accepting a $500,000 payment from Nike to cover up a positive drug test as per sworn testimony in 2006 from Kathy LeMond, wife of American cyclist Greg LeMond and as reported in the New York Daily News.
Cycling Australia (CA) issued a lengthy communication regarding the Armstrong-USADA affair noting that Matt White (who recently admitted to doping while riding with Armstrong’s U.S. Postal team) has been sacked from his position as a part-time contractor in the role of Elite Men’s Road National Coordinator. CA is also critical of its parent body, the UCI, saying that, “We acknowledge that there is now clear evidence that the UCI, until recent times, failed to fully and properly do its part to stamp out doping… the current professional peloton is much ‘cleaner’ and fair competition is now taking place.
However, we concede questions do remain.”
In other news, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering whether to strip Armstrong of his bronze medal (ITT) from the 2000 Sydney Games. The IOC is similarly considering stripping Levi Leipheimer (who recently confessed to doping) of his bronze medal from the 2008 Beijing Games. In both cases, the IOC is waiting for the UCI to respond to USADA’s reasoned decision.
The UCI has said little since receiving USADA’s 1,000 page bombshell. A terse note on the UCI website simply reads, “”The UCI has been advised by USADA that it’s [sic] reasoned decision and supporting material is available to view on its website (10th October 2012). The UCI will examine all information received in order to consider issues of appeal and recognition, jurisdiction and statute of limitation, within the term of appeal of 21 days, as required by the World Anti-Doping Code. The UCI will endeavour to provide a timely response and not to delay matters any longer than necessary.”
Pedal readers should expect many more revelations in coming weeks.
Armstrong steps down – Read HERE.
Nike Drops Sponsorship – Read HERE.
Barry in the New York Times – Read HERE.
Dick Pound on the UCI (in French) – Read HERE.
Verbruggen in NY Daily News – Read HERE.
Cycling Australia news – Read HERE.
IOC considers stripping Armstrong’s bronze medal – Read HERE.