Former Cofidis manager Eric Boyer has questioned Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters suitability to participate in the Change Cycling Now summit, which takes place in London on Sunday and Monday. Both men are listed among the attendees, which include Paul Kimmage, David Walsh, Greg Lemond and Michael Ashenden.
Vaughters took over from Boyer in 2009 as the president of the AIGCP, the teams’ association, and Boyer is critical of his successor’s stance on the issue of WorldTour teams hiring riders who have returned from suspension. Under the ProTour Code of Ethics, top-level teams agreed not to sign banned riders for a period of four years from the beginning of their suspensions.
“The presence of Jonathan Vaughters saddens me,” Boyer told Le Figaro. “I was put under pressure because I wanted to apply the ethical code signed by the UCI managers but which angered three quarters of my colleagues. They always told me ‘don’t annoy us with that, it’s unworkable.’”
The code was famously dealt a blow in 2008, when Liquigas left the AIGCP after announcing the signing of Ivan Basso, who was about to return from suspension following his implication in the Operacion Puerto blood doping scandal.
“The code stipulated that ProTour teams were not allowed to recruit a suspended rider for a further two years, so that was two years plus two years off the circuit. Liquigas were the first to flaunt it by recruiting Basso,” said Boyer, who was removed as Cofidis manager midway through this season.
“After succeeding me, Vaughters decided that it was unenforceable, so he didn’t apply it. So when he makes his fine speech that ‘cycling needs to change’… Well, he had the chance to do things and he didn’t do them. Seeing him there as if he were among those who want to change things doesn’t make a very good impression. They pushed me to resign because I wanted to do things…”
Vaughters recently confirmed that he will not seek re-election as head of the AIGCP when his term ends in March.
Boyer is also unhappy about the way in which Johan Bruyneel, who managed Lance Armstrong at US Postal and has been charged with doping by the US Anti-Doping Agency, was able to play such an important role in the sport even as the investigations into his activities continued.
“For years, there were simple things to be done by putting pressure on those who dared to dope, by making them afraid,” Boyer said. “But instead of that, Johan Bruyneel was allowed to have authority over everything. He terrorised his colleagues who allowed themselves to be manipulated. Now we need courage.”
Boyer pointed out that he had already attended a conference similar to “Change Cycling Now” organised some years ago by Française des Jeux and the French Olympic Committee but that the message had remained unheeded. “We’ve had the ideas for a long time. They simply need to be put into effect, otherwise they’ll still just remain as words,” he said.