European media launch a manifesto for credible cycling

The Tour of Beijing peloton makes its way past the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium during the opening stage.

The Tour of Beijing peloton makes its way past the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium during the opening stage. (Image credit: AFP)

Several leading European newspapers have joined forces to call for major reforms in cycling in light of the USADA doping investigation and the damage caused by the consequences of blood doping in the last 20 years.

Called a ‘Manifesto for credible cycling’, L’Equipe, The Times, Gazzetta dello Sport, Het Nieuwsblad, Le Soir, with support from others news titles, are demanding major reform of the sport, especially in the powers and responsibility of the UCI.

The eight-point manifesto calls for several specific changes, including an independent investigation by WADA into what happened in cycling in the last 20 years, that WADA and national anti-doping agencies carry out anti-doping controls at major races, longer bans for doping, and a reform of the UCI WorldTour and more direct responsibility for the title sponsors of the teams.

The newspapers also call for a summit before the start of the 2013 season to define the news organisation and the new rules.

The Manifesto reads:

We are a group of newspapers in five newspapers from four different countries (Belgium, Great Britain, Italy and France). We’ve been part of the history of cycling for over a hundred years. We passionately love this sport and strongly believe in its future.

However we are very concerned about the current situation. The long list of doping scandals that have clouded the horizon of cycling in recent years now includes the Armstrong case, the confessions of several of his former teammates, the report of the American Anti-Doping Agency (USADA): that as points its finger at the malfunction or even complicity of the International Cycling Union (UCI).There are also disturbing reports filtering from the Padua investigation and the Operacion Puerto trial begins in Madrid in January.

This recent revelations show clearly that there was sick ‘cycling system’ and we can no longer put our faith in the UCI or the team managers who were complicit in the cheating. However responsibility lies with everyone in the cycling family: governing bodies, management, sponsor, organisers and athletes.

It seems that things have improved recently. We believe in the new generation of riders but we believe it is impossible to continue with the same structure, the same rules and the same people.

That's why we ask for/recommend that the governing bodies, sponsors, teams, organisers and athletes:

- That the UCI recognizes its responsibilities in the Armstrong case.

- The creation, under the responsibility of the Agency (WADA), of a neutral and independent commission to investigate the role and responsibility of the UCI in the Armstrong case and the fight against doping in general; to report errors, abuses and possible complicity.

- That the organization of controls at the biggest races is directly by WADA and the national anti-doping agencies.

- That the suspensions for serious doping cases are more severe and that teams pledge to terminate contracts and not sign for a further two years any athletes suspended for more than six months.

- The restoration of the ‘gentlemen's agreement’ that allowed the temporary suspension of riders involved in a doping investigation.

- A stronger involvement and accountability of the title sponsors of teams.

- The reform of the WorldTour, its points system and licensing, which remains closed and opaque. We propose that the licences are no longer awarded to the managers but to the sponsors.

- The organisation of a major ‘cycling summit’ before the start of the 2013 season in order to define the new organization and new rules.

We sincerely hope that the cycling world will seize the opportunity to make fundamental reform.

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Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.