Pat McQuaid has for the first time gone on record stating that the UCI could ban Lance Armstrong if USADA follow through and provides the relevant evidence to back their lifetime ban of the former cyclist. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins – as well as other titles won from August 1, 1998 – after USADA sanctioned him last month on the grounds of several doping violations.
While the UCI have been notified of USADA’s actions they are still waiting for the American agency to deliver evidence to substantiate their ban. Once any documents fall into the hands of the UCI they have a 21-day window to decide whether they will appeal the decision to CAS or ratify Armstrong’s ban. Armstrong himself announced that he would not fight USADA’s charges, calling their actions a ‘witch-hunt’. He has always denied taking performance enhancing drugs.
"If ultimately the UCI has to sanction, we will have no problems. We've sanctioned many good riders in the past, we've put them out of the sport and we're not afraid to do it with anybody," McQuaid told Cyclingweekly.
The UCI has altered their stance regarding the case several times. At first they distanced themselves from USADA’s efforts, claiming that it was a matter of US jurisdiction.
“People can say what they want, and make statements but the UCI is not involved in it so don’t ask me to comment. We’re not commenting on the Armstrong investigation and that remains the case. Let USADA carry on with this investigation,” McQuaid said in July.
That message changed when USADA referenced an alleged cover up of a positive test between Armstrong and the UCI. McQuaid and Armstrong then fought USADA for jurisdiction of the results management. Their case was thrown out, leaving USADA to press ahead.
"There's a lot in those letters that's making statements without anyone knowing the facts," McQuaid said before USADA’s ban was enforced.
"If they have evidence they should share it with the UCI and ask us our opinion. It's very easy to take statements from people and put them into a charge and say that it's evidence. The UCI has nothing to fear in relation to samples going under the counter because it's never happened. A lot of what I've heard over the years are statements coming from Landis and Hamilton which are hearsay about statements made out on the bike in training. That's all it is. The facts that show that that evidence is not there," he said.
"This affair is a trial in the court of public opinion and that's not fair or just. I'm in no way trying to save Lance Armstrong's skin, in any way. The question at stake is that the authority of the UCI as an international federation and my colleagues by what is going on here with USADA and the support of WADA."