Can CCN really change cycling?
The Change Cycling Now (CCN) movement, at a press conference in London on Monday, has called for Pat McQuaid to resign from his post as the president of the UCI. The CCN organisation has also advocated that former cyclist Greg LeMond - an existing member of the CCN panel - should stand as an interim president while the UCI conducts its investigation into allegations of corruption and bribery during the Lance Armstrong era.
The CCN came into existence in the aftermath of the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong and the US Postal team. Jaimie Fuller, the CEO of a global sportswear brand, created the organisation, and has assembled an impressive list of names with LeMond, Michael Ashenden, Paul Kimmage, Jonathan Vaughters, Christophe Bassons and David Walsh all joining forces to lobby the UCI for reform within the sport. Fuller is financing the enterprise himself and does not believe his ties to his sportswear brand and his declaration for change are a conflict of interest. However, he would not confirm the amount of capital he is willing to invest in CCN but was clear that the root of his aims are based around cleaning up the sport and not publicity.
"The UCI's Independent Commission will sit in April and report in June," Fuller said. "During that time the president and the honorary president who are both under investigation in that process will be allowed to remain in office. In order for the commission's task to remain credible they must stand down and they must stand down immediately. There must be no possibility of conflict of interest from the commission and interim leadership is necessary.
"Today we're launching the charter of the willing and I'd like to ask the national federations and the IOC and challenge them on why they would not endorse this charter. This charter is clearly for the good of the sport."
Fuller's charter comprises of four main principles. The first surrounds the much vaunted concept of truth and reconciliation, a premise that has already divided two teams that publicly position themselves with anti-doping stances in Sky and Garmin-Sharp. However, CCN is calling for riders and staff to come forward and admit to any links and guilt of doping in a set of hearings in order to allow recognition of the past and Fuller adds that the UCI President, presumably LeMond at this point, should instruct teams and riders to come forward. The second principle is for another independent commission to investigate the UCI and its senior management. Thirdly, CCN requests that anti-doping measures and testing should be controlled away from the UCI and authority granted to an independent body to decide on testing. Finally, CCN calls for a cultural change in the UCI
"We want cycling to become the first sport in the world where the athletes work side by side with the authorities against doping," said Michael Ashenden, formerly of the UCI's Biological Passport panel.
"Independence in testing is a prerequisite for our confidence. A single organisation that operates beyond the UCI's control, that organisation must have the authority on who to test, when to test them and what drugs to test them for.
"Independent testing on its own is not sufficient. We want to put into place a system for next year's Tours that guarantees that the winners have not blood doped. It will restore public confidence in the riders and the race's outcome. It's for the riders, but very much by the riders."
"I believe that riders want to do the right thing and I think if they're given the opportunity they will do the right thing."
Fuller's petition for change at the UCI currently stands at 646 online signatures but along with the funds raised by the Kimmage Defence Fund, there is a public appetite for the UCI to reform. However, the exact structure and power of the CCN appears limited at this stage. The UCI, McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen have all clashed with members of the CCN panel in the past and there's little sign of them deciding to fall on their swords based on the arguments put forward in London. So far there has been little to no dialogue between the UCI and CCN, a fact Fuller believes is due to the UCI monitoring staff emails.
What the CCN also lack is the backing of the professional peloton. Ashenden stated that he'd met with Gianni Bugno, the head of the CPA, and Fuller added that he himself had spoken to at least 10 riders who were scared of UCI recrimination if they were seen to be on the CCN panel.
With no concrete steps in place and Ashenden unwilling to go into the details of his plan on how rider cooperation could work, CCN's best chance of success could lie in acting as a pressure group. Paul Kimmage, who is counter-suing the UCI currently, added: "It's the fact that we're here to ratchet up the pressure. We're not going to forget about it. This needs to be dealt with and we need to keep reminding people day after day that it's not the riders who are responsible for the mess that the sport is in today but it's the people who have been in charge for the last 20 years.
"Hein Verbruggen has been at the helm of the sport since 1990. Since 2005 his puppet has been at the helm of the sport and nothing is going to happen until we remove McQuaid and Verbruggen and that's number one on our list of things that need to be done. We're going to do whatever we can to keep that on the agenda until that's resolved."