MPCC president Roger Legeay has lauded the expansion of the Movement for Credible Cycling in recent months and said that it was “almost incomprehensible” that all WorldTour teams have not yet signed up as members.
Membership of the MPCC has risen dramatically since last season, aided in no small part by Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme’s championing of the movement during his speech at the Tour presentation in October, when he announced that MPCC members would be given priority for wildcard invitations.
The MPCC was made up of seven teams last year (as it was on its foundation in 2007), but now counts some 38 members, including eleven WorldTour teams. However, there are still eight high-profile absentees from its ranks – Saxo-Tinkoff, BMC, Sky, RadioShack-Leopard, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Movistar, Cannondale and Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
Speaking at a press conference in Houilles on the eve of Paris-Nice, Legeay said that all WorldTour team managers had agreed in principle with the MPCC’s mission statement during a meeting in October and agreed to consider their position in the weeks that followed.
“At the AIGCP meeting in October last year, all the managers agreed that the philosophy of the MPCC was good and that they would reflect on it for the winter. We have 38 teams now and it’s not up to me to ask why the others aren’t here,” said Legeay, who later appeared to allude to Team Sky’s absence from the movement: “I’m not going to cross the Channel and get down on my knees to convince them.”
“Some of them said they would reflect on it but there is no news beyond that,” he continued. “Personally, I think it’s almost incomprehensible that everybody isn’t in the same movement. It’s nothing to do with the past, it’s about starting from today and we would be much stronger if everybody was here.”
However, Legeay also spoke of his pride at how the MPCC has broadened its horizons in recent months and now features teams from all five continents, the national federations of France, Belgium, Ireland, Morocco, Singapore and Switzerland, as well as the European Cycling Union. “We were criticised for being a francophone association, but we are an international association and our sole objective is the credibility of cycling,” he said.
A key feature of the MPCC charter is increased controls to counter the use of corticoids and he said that the voluntary tests would continue even with the dramatically increased volume of teams. MPCC teams pledge not to field riders while they hold a therapeutic use exemption for cortisone and they agree to undergo four voluntary tests for cortisol levels throughout the season.
“It was a pity when WADA relaxed their regulations on corticoids – firstly, because they have a big performance-enhancing effect and secondly, because they are dangerous for your health. We want WADA to revise that,” Legeay said. “Teams will have four random tests during the year, at important races.”
Legeay also announced that teams would automatically suspend themselves for one week or for the next WorldTour race (unless it is a Grand Tour) in the event that two riders from the team test positive in the space of twelve months. If a team has three positive tests in two years, it is asked to cease racing for a month and the Grand Tour exemption no longer applies.
Ultimately, Legeay said, the credibility of cycling lies in the hands of its team managers, as they control the culture of their teams, and he supported his thesis by pointing to the three defining doping scandals of the past 15 years – Festina, Operacion Puerto and the Lance Armstrong affair.
“All the scandals – Festina, Puerto and Armstrong – have common denominators. They were uncovered through the police and oral testimony, not through laboratory testing, and each case had a manager and a doctor behind it. That’s the reality. If the managers say it’s finished, it’s finished.
“What is doping? Managers and doctors. The key isn’t anti-doping testing, it’s the managers. I’ve said it to all of the managers, to their faces: ‘You have the power to say no.’”
Legeay’s words echoed those of Christian Prudhomme, who spoke briefly at the beginning of the press conference, which was also attended by a number of managers and riders from MPCC teams.
“A certain number of managers have taken the situation in hand and for me, the managers are the key,” Prudhomme said. “I respect MPCC because it doesn’t claim to offer a perfect world, but a better world, starting straight away with rules that are stricter than WADA’s and stricter than any others in the world of sport.”