Garmin-Sharp rider says it's up to the UCI, riders to make people believe
David Millar believes that the UCI must admit responsibility for not doing enough in the fight against doping in light of USADA’s case against Lance Armstrong and the systematic doping at US Postal. Millar says UCI President Pat McQuaid must recognise changes need to be made to repair the current image of professional cycling.
"Cycling has been exposed as a fraudulent sport," Millar told The Guardian. "It was, until recently, a deeply criminal business. We're facing the darkness of that period, and it is so necessary. This is the only way that cycling is going to climb out of the abyss - by confronting the past just as we have cleaned up the current state of the sport. It has to be done and that's why the UCI needs to take responsibility now."
Millar has been a constant voice in light of the recent doping scandal involving Armstrong, having served a ban for doping in 2004 and suggests transparency and action are required immediately, not only from the UCI but also from the riders.
"I don't think they [UCI] realise what everyone needs is immediate action," said Millar. "They have to act quickly or they're going to face a total revolt and they'll be out anyway."
"But, with the UCI, there still seems to be a sense of denial and an 'us and them' approach. They still claim that they did everything they could to stop doping. Well, they didn't - that's obvious to everyone."
The Garmin-Sharp rider suggests the real concern for the UCI is public education. The release of USADA’s comprehensive dossier, available online, has meant anyone with an interest in the sport can delve deep into the past "abyss" and it’s this release of information that may see the downfall of the current UCI regime.
"The more people get educated about the past the more precarious the UCI's position becomes. Within the sport, we had in-depth knowledge of cheating. Now there is a public awakening and the UCI will be in real trouble unless they make a full apology," Millar said.
Millar also discussed the reactions of Alberto Contador and Miguel Indurain’s apparent support of Armstrong during the time and says that while many have been disappointed by their stance, it’s more about the Spanish mentality.
"Our Anglo-Saxon mentality is puritanical - 'Punish 'em forever, they did wrong.' But the Spanish say: 'He's a father of five, he works for charity, he rides a bike... let's move on.' It was incredibly inappropriate what they said and, believe me, they went 'Oh shit!' when it broke."
Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins however, has not been so forgiving towards Armstrong and Millar says he could become the next "patron" of the sport. Wiggins recently voiced his opinion on Armstrong and those who have criticised the performances of himself and his Sky team at the 2013 Tour presentation.
"Brad had every right to lash out. It's what any clean guy would do. I'm different. I made mistakes. I doped. I cheated. I have an obligation to be vocal and transparent. But I honestly don't think it's the duty of the clean guys."
He suggests that "doping is just a non-subject to the young guys," and says riders like himself who have previously doped are responsible for ensuring transparency. The new generation are encouraged by Millar however, to prove to the fans that it is truly possible to "believe" in the sport and the performances seen on television or watched by the roadside and achieved clean.
"Beyond the UCI, we need to be proactive and make people believe in us. That's the responsibility of all who want the sport to continue. We can't let anyone else take the lead. It's up to us to make people believe."
- Tour de France