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Cookson: Sports that believe they don't have doping problems are in denial

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UCI president Brian Cookson

UCI president Brian Cookson (Image credit: RFEC)
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Lance Armstrong liked to control the media

Lance Armstrong liked to control the media (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald the UCI president Brian Cookson has spoken out against sports that have failed to address issues over doping. "There's sports that have a doping problem and are trying to do something about it. Then there are sports that have a doping problem and are in denial about it."

Cookson thinks that the UCI are the leaders amongst sports that have a doping problem but are trying to do something about it. "There is doping, there is cheating, in every sport. If you're in sport and you say you don't have a doping problem, well, you're in denial, I'm afraid, my friend.''

Cookson was elected president of the UCI in September, taking over that role from Pat McQuaid. Since September the UCI Management Committee has allocated 3 million euro for the Cycling Independent Reform Commission.

The Briton feels that other sports will have to follow the same path cycling has now taken. "The kind of trouble that we're going through now, other sports are going to have to go through. They might not think it, but they are,"

The investigation into its own past may have serious ramifications, Cookson admits. "If they [the allegations of cheating and fraud by UCI] prove to be true, the ramifications for those involved are potentially quite serious. We will pass it on to the relevant authorities if there's been fraud, and if there's been collusion that's illegal in terms of criminal law or civil law."

One of the CIRC's goals is to make full cooperation in the investigation by (former) riders easier. Just after last year's Tour de France Stuart O'Grady announced his retirement. He was retroactively tested and flagged a positive test in the 1998 Tour de France. O'Grady was adamant that he only using banned substances once. 

"I acknowledge what he's done and I understand the difficulties that he's in," Cookson said. "But I'll encourage him to come forward and speak to the commission and tell everything that he knows about everything, including his own career."

The UCI approved reduced sentences for those who cooperate with CIRC. Cookson repeated that he hopes that Lance Armstrong will come forward and tell everything he knows.  "The damage to his reputation is eating him, I think, but just as much the fact that he wants to compete in masters triathlons." 

"I think he's probably sitting at home pretty bruised and thinking, 'Well, you know, I was a hero and now I'm not'. That's the lesson I think the world should learn from Lance Armstrong."

Armstrong wrote in an email to Cyclingnews in January that he had not been contacted. The former seven-times Tour de France winner still plans on cooperating. "My position remains unchanged. I plan on cooperating openly & honestly w/ ANY UCI commission that contacts me," he wrote on his Twitter page.