UCI & Lance’s comeback

February 18, 2013

You probably saw (or you may have missed it) that Verbruggen now concedes the UCI suspected Armstrong of doping. But the darn problem was, without proof they couldn’t do anything. In Vrij Nederland Verbruggen said:

‘It was hard for me to the extent that you know more than you can say. You have questions but you can’t express it publicly.’

You know what, I agree with that principle. Innocent until proven guilty is a pretty solid concept I would say, you can build whole societies on that. Of course, it doesn’t explain why Verbruggen went out of his way to tell people Lance “never, never, never” doped, but that’s another story.

The point I would like to make today is not that we should expect the UCI to prosecute without proof, to do things the rules don’t allow. That would be crazy. What we should expect however is for the UCI to do everything the rules DO allow to figure out if their suspicions are correct and to make it as difficult as possible for those they suspect of doping. In this regard the UCI has failed spectacularly.

I can even understand the concept of warning riders who are suspected, on the basis that if you know you can’t catch them, scaring them into reducing their doping may be the best tool you have (even if it is far from ideal). But what I can’t understand is this:

  • If the UCI “knew more”, then it should have been abundantly clear that accepting money from Armstrong “for the fight against doping” was a no-no.
  • If the UCI “knew more”, then surely they should not have facilitated a meeting for Armstrong with the Swiss anti-doping lab.
  • If the UCI “knew more”, waiving the mandatory 6 month waiting period for Armstrong so he could participate in the Tour Down Under makes no sense.
  • If the UCI “knew more”, they should have targeted Armstrong when he came back, so not sending his profiles to the biological passport expert panel after May 4, 2009 (when he had barely commenced his comeback) is negligent.
  • If the UCI “knew more”, it should have cooperated with the US Feds and later USADA as soon as it became aware an investigation was going on. Their suspicions plus evidence gathered by those agencies could have been a strong combination.

Yet the UCI did none of this. Note I say “UCI” and not “Verbruggen” or “McQuaid”. It affects the whole management committee of the UCI, as well as the federations that elect them. Either they knew nothing about this, in which case they aren’t doing their job very well. Or they do knew about it but are deciding to stay silent.

I can understand that in the past, some or even most of this stuff may have been hidden from management committee members. But those days are over, everything is out in the open now. So they either have to act very soon, or accept to be clearly seen as supporting the old-guard and its failing judgements.

British management committee member Cookson was quoted as saying cycling needs “unity” in the UCI right now. There’s a time and place for unity, and it’s definitely not advisable to be seen quarreling all the time. But right now is not that time and place. Unity won’t save cycling, unity will save the status quo. Let’s hope that in the coming months, those who can really change the sport (those on the inside) will figure out the difference between saving cycling and saving your ass.

14 Responses to “UCI & Lance’s comeback”


  1. You have made many valid points and have inserted a link to a thread i started back in aug 2011 :

    http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showthread.php?p=1143748#post1143748

  2. Evan Shaw Says:

    Cookson’s statement subtext is I am the old guard masquerading as the new guard. Elect me and all will be the same. Just as in the vortex of alignment of so called stakeholders that allowed zero accountability that drew LA as the mob boss, that very same alignment will draw the next highly manipulative in to rule the new vortex albeit with a new face and look but the very same results. Cover up scandal reassure sponsors that doping will occur but go undectectable and keep the corrupt practices of regulation promotion and testing under one roof. Sad but if we allow the UCI to align with the next unaccountable rider mob boss and uncaring sponsors the new clean riders will either leave or be sucked under. Lets call it the Tour of Amgen.

    • Ronin Says:

      Evan, I’m just floored by your insight in this post and many others. I never knew the world could be such a dark place. I’ve been so naive! Thanks for opening my eyes!

  3. Evan Shaw Says:

    New UCI wheel tab solution to what ails cycling!!!

    The new tab prevents UCI from seeking 125000 from doping mob boss riders team managers and sponsors as well. The darn wheel of corruption just won’t come off.

  4. Justin Says:

    USA Cycling has a person on the UCI Management Committee, Mike Plant. If anybody on the Management Committee should answer the questions raised by gerardvroomen, it is Mr. Plant. But he seems to keep a low profile. Does anybody know what Mr. Plant’s position is on these questions?

  5. Evan Shaw Says:

    NOT good. He is a worrisome person, just to be tactful. He has equivocated on many occasions. It would behove us all to review his past performance, ties, and alignments.

  6. sam Says:

    What needs to happen is the cyclist need to form a real union (can’t believe i’m typing that) and force the UCI out. Form a real league where ownership means something and creates real value. Then there will be a collective interest in protecting and growing the sport. It will be easier to police and when there is a problem you can cut off the head of the hydra – the owners and managers, as well as the rider. The UCI is a corrupt broken system. It simply doesn’t work nor will it ever work.

  7. Tom Poston Says:

    Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I am not involved or connected in any way with the UCI, Lance Armstrong, USA Cycling, or any team. I don’t KNOW anything, just am a casual cyclist and fan of the sport.

    That said, what this feels like to me, more than anything else, is that UCI saw Armstrong as their Michael Jordan: an international superstar who brought fame and money flowing in to the sport like never before. Jordan and the NBA had a partnership that benefitted both player and league, and made a lot of people very rich. I look at Verbruggen or McQuaid and I see David Stern – not to imply that Stern is corrupt, but that Verbruggen/McQuaid recognized the value of their superstar to the pro cycling “brand” and bent over backwards to protect Armstrong to keep the partnership going. That meant bending/breaking rules, a LOT of rules, and doing whatever they could to make sure the real story never came out. This was a business, a big-money sports business, that depended on the storybook superstar to keep the big money flowing.

    To me that is what it really feels like, when the UCI tacitly or explicitly backed Armstrong’s statements of innocence over the years, when Armstrong gave money to the UCI, when the UCI tried to take over the USADA investigation last summer, when Verbruggen and McQuaid impede ongoing investigations today. As far as we know, Jordan/Stern never broke the kinds of rules that Armstrong/UCI did, but Jordan brought in billions of dollars to the NBA, just as Armstrong did (well millions anyway) to pro cycling. Keeping that business from totally unraveling seems to me like what McQuaid and the UCI are desperately trying to do.

  8. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    I see nothing wrong with UNITY, but it’s got to be unity in the pursuit of cleaning up the mess and really working on antidoping rather than simply managing/preventing scandals. Since well, probably forever, the UCI has only been interested in managing the public image of pro cycling rather than enforcing sporting rules. I hope this time they eventually figure out the :”business as usual” idea is dead though I don’t expect anything to come from the corrupt persons who currently run things. Someone needs to create a new international federation so the UCI can be discarded. Getting the IOC to admit the problem is probably the first step – WADA should be lobbying big-time for this to happen along with the ChangeCyclingNow folks…otherwise nothing much will change…new crooks will simply take the places of the current ones if they’re forced out.

  9. Chrise Says:

    I disagree, the concept of warning riders is flawed. The next questions that must be asked are: Did all riders get notified or just Heins favourites? Did Hein not notify some riders intentionally hoping they would test positive and thereby e give an advantage to his favourites, ie Lance. Did Lance tell which riders Hein should notify? The payments by Lance don’t match the purchase of the equipment by the UCI. Could the payments by Lance be for Hein notifying Lance et al and not notifying others who wernt on the inside? Something with the money to the UCI really smells and it seems everyone is taking Heins word for it.

  10. Tom Says:

    Testing in triathlon is even weaker than in cycling. There’s no out of competition testing, so there’s nothing stopping Lance from doping in tris, because he won’t get caught. Psychologically, given his win at all costs mentality and his age, why should anyone believe he would ever race clean?

    • Flahute Says:

      There is that whole “lifetime ban from Olympic sport” thing preventing Armstong from doping in triathlons.

      Sure, he could still be doping, but why? He’s not competing due to the ban.

  11. chris eidsvik Says:

    Did Hein and Mcquaid recieve cash personally? After Lance paid “donation” did Hein or Macquiad revive a “bonus” from UCI.
    Did Nike pay 500k to UCI after positive test or someone else and why. Did any rider test positive under similar circumstances butbecause they weren’t Lance or held in favour at UCI they were thrown under the bus? These questions need to be answered under oath in court. Hopefully Kimmage case will get to it. Hein, macquiad and UCI stink to high heaven with these transactions.


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