Two former UCI presidents have commented on the latest war of words between current president David Lappartient and Team Sky’s Dave Brailsford, with former UCI head Pat McQuaid calling for Chris Froome’s boss to be ‘a little more humble’. Brian Cookson, who took over from McQuaid and ran the UCI until last September, has called for all parties to ‘calm down’ with fears that the provocative language could lead to incidents on the road against riders.
On Sunday, Brailsford stepped off the Team Sky bus to launch a scathing attack of Lappartient and the way in which he and the UCI handled the Chris Froome salbutamol case.
"I think he's still got the local French mayor kind of mentality maybe," Brailsford told reporters.
McQuaid, who made no secret of his support for Lappartient during the Frenchman’s election campaign last year, came to the defense of the Frenchman and reminded Brailsford that he should perhaps look at his own house before giving advice to others. Brailsford has faced difficult questions in the past over his own credibility after it was exposed that he and his staff failed to keep sufficient medical records for their star rider Bradley Wiggins. The hackers Fancy Bears also revealed that the athlete was given controversial medical TUEs in the build-up to Grand Tours. In the past, Brailsford has also faced criticism for the hiring of doctor Geert Leinders, who was later banned for life for doping riders in the 2000s. In March of this year MPs from the DCMS Select Committee stated that: "contrary to the testimony of David Brailsford in front of the Committee, we believe that drugs were being used by Team Sky, within the WADA rules, to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical need."
McQuaid governed the UCI until 2013 and told Cyclingnews on Tuesday from his home in France that Brailsford’s comments towards Lappartient were “disrespectful.”
“David Lappartient was the president of the European Cycling Federation for a number of years before he was president. He’s now the president of the UCI. Yes, he has been the mayor of a small town in France, but he’s been around a long time on the international stage. He has a broad international outlook. He’s French and when a person from a big nation like France, Italy or Spain becomes president it’s only natural for them to be clouded by their own nationalistic thinking on the sport and its history, but I don’t think anything he’s said so far has shown French bias.”
Asked what he would do if he were Lappartient, and McQuaid responded: “I would talk directly to Brailsford and ask what he's on about. I think Brailsford should be a little more humble these days after what he’s been through instead of going on the attack after Chris has been cleared. I don’t think that’s a good strategy. I don’t really know why he did it, I think he just feels that he has to attack someone and that he’s in a position of strength but he’s forgetting all about the Jiffy bag, the MPs, and their comments. His credibility isn’t as high as he might think it is.”
Back in the UK now and busy setting up new projects, Cookson called for calm from all sides involved.
“Both sides here need to calm things down. It doesn’t help criticising each other, whether it’s double sided or tripartite with ASO. Sometimes, it’s best to say nothing than something that can be interpreted in a provocative way,” he told Cyclingnews.
“What I really worry about is the issues over safety and security. We’re a heartbeat away from something bad happening and anything that makes that more likely is a really foolish thing to do. We should calm down and think about the safety of the riders on the roads. The beauty of our sport is the accessibility but it’s a dangerous and fragile situation. We should all be careful about what we say that could lead to foolish people do foolish things. All parties should be careful not to use provocative language.”