International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid has bemoaned the fact that the federal investigation into allegations of systematic doping in the US Postal Service team is taking place “in the public arena” and suggested that it has its genesis in a personal vendetta. He also said that the UCI has not been contacted by federal investigators in relation to the inquiry.
“To some extent, when you look at the way the investigation has come about, you have to ask whether there is a genuine investigation or whether there are vendettas going on here,” McQuaid said in an interview with the Associated Press from the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. “From that point of view, it’s unfortunate that people who could have approached this in a completely different way didn’t do so. They just went public.”
The investigation was sparked by Floyd Landis’ allegations of doping practices in his former team, which were made in a series of e-mails leaked on the eve of the Tour of California. Landis has since reiterated his allegations in television and print interviews, as well as frankly admitting to his own history of doping. “It’s an investigation that has taken place in the public arena, which was unnecessary,” said McQuaid.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in July, Landis also claimed that the UCI had covered up a positive test by Lance Armstrong at the Tour de Suisse in exchange for donations towards its anti-doping programme from the American.
McQuaid was quick to deny such a positive test or any such collusion between the organising body and its most valuable commodity. “The fact is we were accused of possibly hiding a positive control because we received money. The fact is we didn’t hide a positive control. The fact is there was no positive control, and the fact is that Lance Armstrong has never been controlled positive,” McQuaid stated.
McQuaid already confirmed to Cyclingnews in July that the UCI received $25,000 from Armstrong in 2002, which was used to cover the costs of doping control at junior races, while a $100,000 donation from Armstrong’s CSE company in 2005 was put towards the purchase of a Sysmex machine.
McQuaid told AP yesterday that there was nothing the UCI could have done to favour Armstrong and that he was “treated within the rules the same as any other athlete.” He did admit, however, that in future the UCI “may deal differently” with donations like Armstrong’s.
The UCI president went on to repeat his belief in his organisation’s testing procedures. “I know the actual facts and the work UCI did during that period in the fight against doping and I know we are completely in the clean from what we did,” he said. “We were testing even at that time more than anyone else. If it’s proven these guys were beating the system, they were beating the system put in place by the scientific authorities, by WADA and everyone else.”
McQuaid also admitted that there would be “some effect on the sport and its image and credibility” if the federal investigation found any evidence of systematic doping in the US Postal Service team. He also acknowledged that it would “have an effect on the brand Lance Armstrong and Lance himself to some extent.”
However, the Irishman remains upbeat about the sport’s future. “The cycling of today is completely different than the cycling of 2000, 2002 and 2003 which this investigation is talking about,” said McQuaid.