Former professional Jörg Jaksche has called for change at the UCI, telling Cyclingnews that the governing body can no longer be led by its President Pat McQuaid. Jaksche, a member of the Change Cycling Now lobby group, recently testified at the Operacion Puerto trial where he detailed his own doping past: a critical step in what he believes will improve cycling’s future.
McQuaid, who aims to seek re-election this year, has been heavily criticised for his part in the Lance Armstrong affair. The UCI initially appeared unmoved by USADA’s investigation but changed their stance in the second half of 2012, arguing that they had jurisdiction in the case. They lost a legal case in the US and were forced to back USADA’s reasoned decision.
McQuaid subsequently called for an independent commission to investigate allegations of corruption at the UCI but within months the commission had been dissolved. Despite Wednesday’s news that Jacques Rogge, the president of the IOC, had backed McQuaid with a public vote of confidence, Jaksche believes that change is a necessity for the sport.
“He shouldn’t be the president in the future. We need a president who has a clear line and follows this line. We don’t need a president who changes his opinion [every] three seconds depending on where the wind blows. Better having no president at all,” Jaksche told Cyclingnews.
“I hope the UCI will have a change of leadership. The legal construction of the UCI means it’s just like a club where it’s really difficult to change things. There’s some movement from the French, Australia and the English, and it’s nothing against McQuaid as a person, but something has to change with the attitude and the ethics of the UCI. He’s not going to get back that credibility,” Jaksche said.
Jaksche’s testimony in the Puerto trial could be crucial. The case is looking into whether public health laws were broken in Spain and a number of current and former riders have been called to give evidence. Ivan Basso, Unai Osa testified earlier this week. Basso has stated that he only "attempted to dope" in 2006 but a number of payments and important evidence suggest that there was a relationship between him and Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes from as far back as 2003.
“After my testimony and that of Manzano, and with Tyler Hamilton to come, I think the judge will believe what we’ve had to say, that the business model Mr. Fuentes ran was not for the health of the riders but was purely doping. It’s going to come out more and more and become clearer,” Jaksche said.
“As people, I like Fuentes and Saiz, I don’t have a problem with them. It’s just that you have to be honest about the past if you want to get things changes. My hypothesis has been that if you can’t buy drugs, there will be no doctors providing substances to sportsmen and women. For example, I can’t personally make EPO in a lab, so what’s important is that people who have never been caught should be worried about being caught in the future.”
“I don’t have a problem with Ivan Basso. It’s a personal decision that everyone takes. When I took the a position to be finally be honest and confess I didn’t want to confess and still tell lies about doping. I wanted to be honest and 100 per cent transparent.
“Other people have different attitudes and I won’t criticise them for that. Of course, with what Ivan said, there were contradictions and [it was] a little bit ridiculous or whatever, but I don’t want to discredit him. I’ve taken another way, and I want to be honest.”
During Jaksche’s evidence, Fuentes’ lawyer attempted to discredit the witness by pointing to the Tour de Suisse in 2006. Jaksche finished third in the race which took place after Fuentes’ doping had been busted.
“He asked about my third place in the Tour of Switzerland and asked if it was a hard race. He said Fuentes had been arrested by this point, and was trying to imply I was still blood doping.”
“I said it wasn’t a race, more of a club championships. He asked me to clarify what I meant. So I said ‘yes, it was a club championship. The winner of the race was Jan Ullrich, a client of Fuentes, second was Koldo Gil, a client of Fuentes, third was me, fourth was Vicioso, another Fuentes client, sixth was Frank Schleck’. Everyone in the court, even the judge was laughing. It was ridiculous.”
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.