By Hedwig Kröner
French cycling federation (FFC) president Jean Pitallier has had some outspoken words on corruption during the UCI Congress in Stuttgart last week. The 70 year-old alleged fraudulent practices within the International Cycling Union (UCI), and said that these were even more dangerous to cycling than the doping problem. "If doping is a real threat to our sport, I think that there are even more dangerous issues threatening us," said Pitallier, who believes that former UCI president Hein Verbruggen is still pulling the strings at the governing body. "I want to speak about money-making and corruption, which are actually not without link to doping. I personally have the greatest concerns about the way in which the ProTour has been created and organised by the UCI."
The FFC, as well as other federations, has been standing behind the Tour de France organiser ASO in its bid to change the concept of cycling's highest calendar, the ProTour, which was founded by the UCI four years ago to replace the World Cup. Meanwhile, UCI president Pat McQuaid accused some of the federations of disobedience, and called for greater unity within the cycling family to solve its current problems.
"If it is true that doping remains the main issue that cycling - and any other sport - will have to face, the lack of unity in our community could render irrelevant any initiative taken to fight against it," McQuaid insisted when speaking at the Congress himself. "The division some members of the cycling family are trying to provoke could have disastrous consequences: it could prevent cycling from overcoming the issues that are putting its future in jeopardy. As we have seen in these last weeks, the principal result of the constant undermining of the UCI’s authority, is to damage the image of our federation and consequently of our sport. Today we face unjustified attacks that would not be possible if we were more united.
"Everybody has the opportunity to express their disagreement. The UCI is a democratic institution. But far too often this right is twisted into an act of insubordination. This has consequences on the stability of the entire movement. This is why insubordination cannot be tolerated," McQuaid stated.