Bach attacks, McQuaid defends

Pat McQuaid has defended the sport's image

Pat McQuaid has defended the sport's image (Image credit: Sirotti)

The International Olympic Committee has weighed in with comments following the latest positive doping test results. IOC vice president Thomas Bach has told AP that the cases of Stefan Schumacher and Leonardo Piepoli have further damaged cycling's credibility and the sport's status at the Olympics has been called into question.

It's a well-worn tune in relation to cycling's image, although the calls for "a pause" in men's road cycling at the Games is a relatively new revelation. "This is a hard blow for the credibility of men's road cycling," said Bach. "Obviously, the riders have not changed their mentality. They had a chance to do so, but they did not and this makes it even worse."

UCI president Pat McQuaid has called Bach's suggestion "completely unacceptable" and reiterated that cycling was making headway in eliminating the scourge of drug cheats. He was unequivocal in saying that, "We are weeding out the bad apples, make no mistake about it. No one can say the UCI and cycling authorities are not doing their utmost to find cheats and get them out of the sport."

He then fired a broadside at Bach. "It is completely unacceptable for Thomas Bach to be saying this. I don't like talking about other sports, but there are other sports with persistent problems. Instead of firing guns at cycling he should fire guns equally at them as well."

Bach said that cycling's "stakeholders" were to blame for not fully grasping the initiatives aimed to rid the sport of doping and that riders, race organisers, team owners and sponsors hadn't been co-operating. "I hope that now these stakeholders realise that they have to join this programme and work seamlessly together. They have to react. The credibility of men's road race cycling is at stake."

Bach added that, "I am confident that the UCI will react and will call upon the other stakeholders to join and to work hand in hand. They have made an effort, but it's not enough if you have no real collaboration and cooperation. The UCI has to be the leader."

Bach suggested that samples taken from Olympic competition should be re-tested, given that the Schumacher and Piepoli positives came from an extensive testing process conducted well after the Tour de France had concluded. "They have to check what was the substance used in the Tour de France, and what was the method being applied to detect it. They then have to compare it with the testing in Beijing and decide whether it makes sense to open (the samples) now," said Bach.

McQuaid recognised that the latest positives are having the greatest impact on cycling in Germany, Schumacher's home nation, and explained that, "These athletes are killing cycling in Germany and damaging it around the rest of the world. That doesn't mean the whole sport should suffer. Why should they be threatened because of a few bad apples?

"This is a low point, there is no doubt about it," admitted McQuaid. "Our resolve is to completely get rid of the cheats from cycling."

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