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Change Cycling Now "hasn't worked, it's been a lot of hot air"
Paul Kimmage has reacted with anger and disappointment to the news that Cycling Ireland has endorsed Pat McQuaid's bid to seek re-election as the President of cycling's governing body the UCI.
Cycling Ireland's board members voted 5-1 in favour of endorsing McQuaid, who is seeking his third term as president, and although the UCI's presidential election does not take place until the Autumn of this year no further candidates have stepped forward.
Kimmage has been one of McQuaid's harshest critics in recent years and was even sued for defamation by McQuaid and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen, in a Swiss court before the case was withdrawn.
On the news that Cycling Ireland has agreed to back McQuaid, Kimmmage told Cyclingnews, "They voted for Ireland and they've fucked cycling."
Kimmage had been hoping that Cycling Ireland would resist McQuaid's request as without the support of the Irish board the UCI President would have needed to have taken the embarrassing step of applying for Swiss support, a standing he qualifies for by the fact he lives in Switzerland.
McQuaid and the UCI have endured a torturous 12 months, with USADA's Reasoned Decision into Lance Amstrong and US Postal highlighting the short comings of international testing and the alleged links to covered up test results. Cycling's governing body was also heavily criticised for accepting donations from Armstrong as well as their decision to contest USADA's jurisdiction in the US Postal case. The UCI even took the matter to court before accepting the Reasoned Decision in yet another embarrassing u-turn.
Kimmage believes that the decision to support McQuaid has taken away an opportunity for the sport to improve its image and tackle the issue of doping in a more robust manner.
"I felt there was a real wind for chance, like with Festina in 1998. I really felt that this was a chance for the sport to move on and to clean out all this. This wasn't going to happen unless we removed Verbruggen and McQuaid," Kimmage added.
"I really felt that after Armstrong, back with USADA that this was another opportunity. If McQuaid had an ounce of fucking dignity he would have walked. he would have said, 'look maybe I wasn't responsible for all this, but I have to hold my hands up and say this was appalling, and I'm walking.' He didn't do that and all he's done since is cover his ass."
After USADA's Reasoned Decision was announced Kimmage joined the Change Cycling Now lobby group. It contained anti-doping analyst Michael Ashenden and Greg LeMond amongst several other individuals. The group pressed for McQuaid to be ousted, and although they lacked a genuine alternative, they were united in their dislike of Armstrong, many of them having crossed swords with him publicly in the past.
"We had that press conference and we spent two days in London. I assure you everyone in that room wanted the same thing. They wanted what was best for the sport. it was so good, it was so good what happened in that room for two days with so many positive things that went on. Then we came out with the press conference and it just went tits up."
"What needed to happen then was that we needed to say, the press conference had been a disaster but we needed to have another meeting the next week, and the next week, and the next week. There needed to be a momentum but there was no structure and from that moment, that was it. It was going to be disaster, with everyone going off half-cocked in a million different directions. It hasn't worked, it's been a lot of hot air. It's been frustrating that it hasn't work. I'm being very defeatist but I can''t help the way I feel. McQuaid is back in now and no one will stand against him. it's all going to happen again, and again, with no accountability. No one [in authority] paid the price for Festina, no one will pay the price for Armstrong."
Change Cycling Now had also pressed for a truth and reconciliation process with the sport, but the possibility of such a programme now looks further away than ever. WADA has been lukewarm on the prospect at best, while only a number of individuals have confessed in light of USADA's report.
Despite their frosty meetings in the past Kimmage believes that Armstrong could be a key to the process regaining some momentum.
"He's got so much on his plate now, legally, that doing some good for the sport is way down on his list of priorities - and it may not have occurred to him - but he can still blow them out of the water."