LeMond not optimistic about UCI's stance towards anti-doping

Change Cycling Now has advocated that Greg LeMond become interim UCI president while the UCI Independent Commission investigates allegations of corruption.

Change Cycling Now has advocated that Greg LeMond become interim UCI president while the UCI Independent Commission investigates allegations of corruption. (Image credit: Gerry McManus/www.splitsecondimages.co.uk)

Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond has reiterated his long-standing view that the UCI should not be in charge of running the sport of professional cycling and that he firmly believes the sport as a whole, including riders, teams and race organisers, want the sport to change. The UCI, on the other hand, has done little to change the mind of the sole US Tour winner.

LeMond's most recent comments came from a discussion group held at the University of Texas, Austin, symposium on doping in cycling. The event held last night was dubbed "The Real Price of Winning at All Costs". The outspoken former professional, who sat with a brace around most of his chest after breaking his back, was part of a panel that featured his wife Kathy, Betsy Andreu - the wife of one of Armstrong's former teammates Frankie Andreu -  and USADA's general counsel Bill Bock. Armstrong was invited to attend the discussion in his home town but declined the offer.

"I'm hopeful the riders want to change, I think the race organisers want to, but I am not optimistic where UCI stand in doping," said LeMond. "Most of the big scandals have been criminal. Festina involved the police because it was trafficking."

"Drug testing has to be separated [from the UCI]. It's not a game," he added.

Still a passionate supporter of the sport LeMond remained firm in his belief that cycling is capable of change and that it would be up to the riders and team to ensure it follows the right path. With so many former riders turned managers remaining in the sport, removing the old ways is arguably going to take time.

"I want to see cycling get to where I can say I can see a real winner."

LeMond also threw in a shot at the International Olympic Committee, which UCI president Pat McQuaid has held a position since 2010, stating that the Olympics should not be playing a heavy-handed role in how the sport is run.

"I believe cycling is an incredible sport and really do believe the riders want to change. It should be the riders, it should be the teams, they should get rid of the UCI. I don't care about the IOC – I'm sorry. We actually destroy the sport every four years. I never raced the Olympics. The Tour de France was enough by itself. When you think about World Championships, Olympics, 10 guys get to go from the US and we are letting guys from Switzerland (UCI) destroy the sport."

One of the key messages brought up in the two-hour discussion was that the outcomes following the USADA's Reasoned Decision document into systematic doping at the US Postal and Discovery Channel teams was, and remains, not just about the fall of the once seven-time Tour winner Armstrong.

Bock was quick to outline the tactics employed by UCI during their investigation and suggested that no other sporting body has refused to cooperate in such a way.

"It's the same people involved, it's the same problems we have always had in the sport and what UCI did in our case; we the brought the case under US rules and UCI rules. We clearly had jurisdiction over an American athlete to bring the case, we went on for a month and when Lance Armstrong's lawyers filed a case in federal court here in Austin, Texas and took the position that Lance had only agreed to play by UCI rules not by US rules, UCI dramatically changed its position and said 'that is right, that is the position'.

"They [UCI] asked us to drop the case, they don't just ask, they demanded that USADA drop the case.

"We asked the UCI for information on Lance Armstrong and they said 'no, he hasn't consented to you having that information'."

The fallout from the 1,000 page dossier was about uncovering and exposing some of the ingrained problems the sport of professional cycling has endured. It's the UCI who want the public to believe the problem lies simply with one man, according to USADA general counsel Bock.

"I think the ultimate tragedy would be if this whole scenario is viewed as 'The Lance Armstrong Affair'," said Bock. "That's how the UCI want everyone in this room to view it. Their view is, Pat McQuaid [said] in his press conference 'Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling'. They want you to believe that, 'look here's the problem over here, it was Lance Armstrong, now look over here and it's a different arrow'."

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