Michael Ashenden, the anti-doping expert and former member of the UCI's expert panel, has criticised Cycling Australia – the governing body of cycling in Australia, for a lack of action against doping.
In a column written for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper in Australia, Ashenden described Cycling Australia as “long on talk, but short on walk” for their apparent lack of action in investigating doping and their hesitance in taking a hard stand against doping.
Ashenden was a founding member of the UCI's expert panel that reviewed riders' blood profiles for evidence of doping. He resigned from the panel earlier this year, objecting to the Athlete Passport Management Unit’s introduction of an eight-year confidentiality clause.
Cycling Australia appointed Matt White as professional men's road coordinator for the Cycling Australia High Performance Program in 2011, despite the UCI requesting he be investigated following Floyd Landis's initial accusations of doping at the US Postal Service team. On Sunday, White quit his role in Cycling Australia and his position as directeur sportif with Orica-GreenEdge after he confessed to doping during his career.
“Not surprisingly, Australian cycling is in turmoil following Matt White's admission that he doped. However, we are missing the point if we bring only the riders to account,” Ashenden writes in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Indeed, with obvious exceptions such as Armstrong, I consider them to be victims of a broken system, rather than evil-doers. It's time the organisations who oversee cycling are held accountable for what has transpired, and nowhere is that more evident than here in Australia.”
“I am in no doubt that Cycling Australia is part of the problem. For too long, it has been long on talk, but short on walk. They hired White when they knew he'd been sacked for sending a young rider to a notorious doping doctor. They knew he'd ridden on Armstrong's teams during doping's darkest years. They also knew when they hired him that he'd been named by Floyd Landis as having used drugs.”
Ashenden is also critical of Cycling Australia's president Klaus Mueller, Graham Fredericks - the CEO of Cycling Australia, Phill Bates -a member of UCI's arbitration tribunal and Mike Turtur - race director of the Tour Down Under and the UCI Oceania president, who helped bring Armstrong to the race in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
“With people such as Mueller, Fredericks, Bates and Turtur prominently placed to influence our cycling landscape, I have little confidence that anything will change here in Australia,” Ashenden writes.
“Throw into the mix the South Australian government shovelling millions of dollars at Armstrong when it knew there were grounds to suspect that he was a dope cheat, and it saddens me to say that Australia more than any other country must accept its role in facilitating Armstrong's lie.”