Anti-doping campaigner laments lack of support from UCI
The co-founder of anti-doping not-for-profit organisation Bike Pure has urged cycling supporters to look beyond the negative press generated by doping investigations this week.
Speaking to Cyclingnews, Andy Layhe said the cases of Lance Armstrong and U.S. Postal, Alberto Contador and Jan Ullrich don't necessarily have to be considered bad news.
"A lot of these cases go back a couple of years anyway; the Ullrich one goes back even further so it's a sign of the past," Layhe offered. "Everyone needs to celebrate the sport and move on."
Layhe also explained that a support for Bike Pure tended to increase around such times.
"Whenever events like this week occur, it's a shame I know, but cycling fans get annoyed and vent their frustration so they join an organisation like ours to show support."
Bike Pure came to life following the controversy surrounding the 2007 Tour de France and the actions of Alexandre Vinokourov and Michael Rasmussen, and has grown to become the world's largest independent anti-doping and ethical sporting organisation of its kind. Co-founders Layhe, who is based in Australia, and Myles McCorry who is based in Ireland, work voluntarily while holding down full-time jobs. Bike Pure is funded by donations, sponsorship and sales via their online store, with all proceeds go back into the organisation, with the aim of continuing the promotion of honesty and integrity in sport.
There is so much more that Bike Pure want to do but the organisation is held back due to the lack of sustainable financial resources required to undertake their goals. Support, and it's not just financial, from within the industry is sorely needed.
With transparency in cycling being a key message of the organisation, Layhe said he was frustrated by the decision of the U.S Attorney to conclude a lengthy investigation into allegations of federal criminal conduct by Lance Armstrong and U.S. Postal Service team.
"It would be nice to know the reasons why the investigation came to a stop so abruptly," Layhe admitted to Cyclingnews. "It needs to be transparent because there's a big cloud hanging over that era. I think it's in Armstrong's best interests as well to provide evidence that he didn't dope."
This week Bike Pure announced it will again partner the up-coming Le Tour de Langkawi (February 24 - March 4) in a bid to promote honest, ethical racing.
"It goes to show that race organisers do support us and more should support us if they can," said Layhe. "No one wants their event tarnished with a drug stamp. There's a lot of investment from sponsors and a lot of work goes in by the organisers so they need to protect their interests. I can't guarantee that it results in a clean event but it sends a good message that the organisers are distancing themselves from doping and they support anti-doping."
In an ironic twist one of the catalysts for Bike Pure's creation, Vinokourov, makes his return to the Malaysian stage race in his farewell season with the turn of events not lost on Layhe.
"I guess we've come full circle, haven't we? The guy served his time and you can't stop him from racing – that's the rule and it is what it is."
Despite the positive steps made by events like the Tour de Langkawi, Layhe said he is at a loss to explain why Bike Pure is not supported by the sport's governing body, the UCI, or national federations.
"We've sent numerous emails to the UCI over the years and to various national bodies and I just don't know why they wouldn't support anti-doping," he admitted.
With prolific riders such as Marianne Vos and Cameron Meyer now representing Bike Pure as role models, the sport is in a far healthier place than it was a number of years ago. Meyer leads the way for Australian riders as a supporter of the organisation with the next generation eagerly following in the multiple-time track world champion's footsteps.
"It's good to see that the youngsters who are coming through want to support us," said Layhe. "Caleb Ewan, Nettie Edmondson, Taylah Jennings – all the ones who were successful at the [Australian] Track Nationals – these guys are the future.
"It's easy to become negative at the positive dope tests but we can hold our heads high that cycle sport is doing far more than all sports and is setting the benchmark when it comes to anti-doping."