Former US Postal rider says UCI is accountable for Armstrong case
Former US Postal rider Scott Mercier, who claimed he was offered performance enhancing drugs by team doctor Pedro Celaya in 1997 says that UCI president Pat McQuaid must be held accountable for the case surrounding Lance Armstrong and the prevalent doping that occurred at US Postal. Mercier's decision to leave the team at the end of 1997 was heavily influenced around his refusal not to dope.
For the sport to move forward, the UCI must rid itself of the "complicit" McQuaid says Mercier. He also believes Armstrong's refusal to admit to the allegations made against him and contained within USADA's comprehensive 1,000-page dossier is "pathetic."
"Just as in politics they say 'it's the cover-up not the crime' and I think that's true here. I don't know what the next steps for him are. It's the same thing with Pat McQuaid claiming the UCI has no responsibility, no culpability. I think the leadership needs to be held accountable and really they need to get rid of Pat McQuaid at the UCI," Mercier told Sky Sports.
"I think it's a shame he's [Armstrong] still denying. There's overwhelming evidence, eye witness testimony, apparently they have hard evidence of blood manipulation and it's sad and pathetic."
Mercier didn't ride alongside Armstrong who was banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France wins by the UCI earlier this week but he was part of the US Postal team - until he decided to leave the team at the end of the 1997 season. Mercier claims doping was already ingrained before the young Armstrong joined in 1998.
"I think it [doping] was quite prevalent in '97, obviously I left at the end of that season," said Mercier.
Mercier described the defining moment during his time with the team when he was allegedly called into Celaya's room to discuss his upcoming training programme. It was this experience that caused him to give up his ambitions of being a European professional.
"I asked [Celaya] him what those were for and he said, 'these are the pills and they're steroids'. I said, 'what are these going to do to me'?
"He said, 'don't worry, you'll go strong like a bull but no racing, because for sure you'd test positive'.
"I was living in South Africa at that time so I flew home and talked to my wife about it. She said, 'make your own decision' and I said, 'I don't want to do this'.
"That's when I decided I didn't want to be a pro."
The former professional stated that if a similar situation happened within a business context those at the top would be the first to go. In a sport where tradition and history is so heavily ingrained it's important for significant changes to occur if the sport is going to recover and move forward.
"If you look at a parallel in the corporate world, if there is a scandal or crisis in a company of any size the CEO is going to be held accountable, either will resign or he'll be fired. McQuaid and company were complicit in this and my opinion is irrelevant," says Mercier.
"They need to be held accountable. The sport will not be able to move on in my opinion, at a professional level at least, with him [McQuaid] in charge."
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