The donation that Lance Armstrong made to the UCI in 2005 has caused a stir. Following recent statements made by Floyd Landis, that the money was used to cover up a positive doping test result of the seven-time Tour de France winner, high-profile sports officials have declared that while they did not think this was true, the nature of such a donation should have been made clearer to the public.
Reports have suggested that Armstrong donated a substantial sum of money to the UCI at the end of his career in 2005. UCI president Pat McQuaid confirmed this last week, telling Irish radio Newstalk that the donation had been $100,000 and that this sum was almost entirely used to buy a Sysmex machine, a piece of equipment used to analyse blood.
IOC president Jacques Rogge supported Armstrong's and McQuaid's version that the donation was not made to cover up any positive anti-doping test. "To my knowledge it is not possible to hide a positive result," Rogge told ESPN. "The lab knows the code. WADA gets it also. Then it goes to the national and international federations. One person cannot decide: 'I can put this under the carpet.'"
Former president of the German cycling federation, Sylvia Schenk, echoed this opinion. Schenk held the position at the time of events and now chairs an international organisation fighting corruption, Transparency International.
"I do not think that a positive doping test can be easily covered up, especially in the case of such a famous rider like Armstrong," Schenk told Cyclingnews on Tuesday. "The tests are performed in accredited labs; it would be difficult to bury a positive result as there are too many people involved. But not only that: I also doubt that the UCI would do such a thing."
Still, Schenk criticised the way in which the donation was made and the subsequent confusion it has caused. "At the time, the UCI Management Committee was not officially instructed before the donation was made," she added. "Then, the amount of the sum changed several times, and to my knowledge there were no documents presented up to now. There should be a transaction receipt, a regular booking at the UCI and a purchase receipt of this Sysmex machine somewhere, all within a certain period of time.
"The UCI was always very proud of its accounts - why have these documents not been made public in these last five years? It is the UCI's own fault that rumours are spreading. The UCI urgently needs to become more transparent."
The German, who does not believe that the UCI would have to rely on a donation to buy any anti-doping equipment, strongly feels that "this kind of payment should not be made, or at least be treated with absolute transparency. There is always the danger of it looking like a deal, even if the donation is made without any kind of return service. In the interest of the UCI's credibility, this impression has to be prevented."
Schenk added that she was not aware of any other active pro cyclist having donated money to the UCI.