Asks for support, not criticism from WADA's Fahey
International Cycling Union (UCI) chief Pat McQuaid is treating comments by Spanish officials with "skepticism", after the European nation spoke sternly about convicting those involved with doping practices. The angry and annoyed Irishman cited the nation's history with doping to support his comments, before calling on World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey to stand by cycling's tough stance on doping, rather than criticise the fraternity.
"I'm disgusted and annoyed that a Spanish cyclist has been the first athlete to be found positive of doping at the Olympic Games," McQuaid told The Associated Press. "I'm very angry that it is cycling that is in the headlines of the world's media, despite all of the crackdowns we have been doing."
McQuaid's comments come after Spaniard Maria Isabel Moreno returned the first positive doping test of this year's Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Spanish sports minister Jaime Lissavetzky called on Moreno yesterday to name and shame her suppliers so Spanish authorities could prosecute those involved with doping practices.
"Any statements coming out of the Spanish federation dealing with doping, I would treat with a certain amount of skepticism," McQuaid added. "Because the Spanish federation have constantly defended athletes who have been involved in doping cases. They have been light in the way they've treated doping cases. How many Spanish athletes have been caught in Spain? I don't think anybody has been charged under that law."
The UCI's head honcho referred to the handling of Operación Puerto, one of the world's largest anti-doping investigations which returned few convictions despite extensive evidence, to support his comments. Recent positives by Spaniards Manuel Beltrán and Moisés Dueñas at the Tour de France where further evidence of a doping culture, said McQuaid.
"[Puerto] has been badly handled by the authorities from the outset, they keep hiding behind the Spanish judicial system," McQuaid said. "There doesn't seem to be a real will to go after the athletes involved. It shows that there is a cultural problem in Spain if so many cyclists are ready to take doping products."
McQuaid will be meeting with WADA's new chief Fahey while in Beijing, and said he wants more support for cycling's tough anti-doping stance. Fahey indicated earlier this week that cycling, along with weightlifting, could be dumped from the Olympic line-up if its connections with doping continued.
"I'm sure we'll have plenty to discuss," McQuaid said. "But I would expect him to be more supportive. The UCI is comparatively small compared to athletics and football but we are at the forefront (of the doping fight), we have pioneered the biological passport scheme which is costing five million Euros to launch, and which is going forward."
While McQuaid acknowledged that WADA wasn't responsible for cycling's Olympic future - something that is the task of the International Olympic Committee - he said the sport is in a strong position.
"I don't believe you should punish a sport because it is finding cheats," he said.
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