David Millar has called for the UCI’s honorary President Hein Verbruggen to step down in light of the damning evidence collected by USADA in the investigation into Lance Armstrong and the US Postal and Discovery cycling teams.
Verbruggen, 72, served at the President of the sport’s governing body from 1991 until 2005, before Pat McQuaid, the current president, succeeded him. Under Verbruggen’s stewardship Armstrong and Bruyneel were central to what USADA called “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen".
Millar, who raced against Armstrong and who himself served a ban for drug use, has been a stern advocate for anti-doping since his comeback. As well as being a spokesperson for WADA, the Garmin-Sharp rider has positioned himself in a team that has formed a no drugs policy since its inception in 2008.
USADA’s 1,000 pages of evidence contain testimony from Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton and Jonathan Vaughters, with all three former US Postal riders swearing under oath that Armstrong told them he could have anti-doping tests nullified by the UCI.
Verbruggen and McQuaid have strenuously denied this, suing Landis and journalist Paul Kimmage after the pair made allegations of corruption in the UCI.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Millar said: “"The UCI have to accept they have to carry some responsibility for this because it was obvious what was going on."
"The UCI had all the blood data, the medical reports, it was part of the culture of the sport and in the big races the majority of riders were doing it on drugs. There was only a tiny minority getting good results without drugs and they really were the outsiders."
"The first step for the UCI is that Verbruggen has to be removed."
"There is no doubt about that - [current president] Pat McQuaid has to distance himself because it was under Verbruggen's presidency that it was at its worst and yet there were all these denials coming from the UCI. He was at the head of organisation with the biggest doping problem in history of sport."
Separate and independent investigation
Jonathan Vaughters, who manages Garmin-Sharp, and who confessed to doping during the USADA investigation with his own 22 page affidavit told Cyclingnews that any decisions over the UCI’s governance should be decided after a separate and independent investigation.
“Obviously I think that there needs to be thorough and independent look at the leadership and what was going in at that time. The strategic and executive leadership during the period of time that the USADA investigation covers needs to be examined in a thorough manner.”
“So of the decision making that has gone on there in the past needs to be audited and reviewed. This investigation is a catalyst to make that happen.”