Spanish government hits back at McQuaid

One of Spain’s leading sports administrators has hit back at UCI president Pat McQuaid’s criticism of the Spanish government’s lack of action on doping, insisting that McQuaid “knows perfectly well that in Spain we’re not turning a blind eye to doping”.

Albert Soler, director-general of sport at the CSD, Spain’s principal sporting body, said that he has spoken to the UCI boss. “I had a conversation with him during his stay in Melbourne and he told me that he hadn’t said exactly what he was reported to have said,” said Soler.

Speaking at the Worlds in Melbourne, McQuaid was quoted as saying: “I don’t want to stigmatise Spain but what I do say is that I hope that the Spanish government, with the laws it has – which along with France and Italy, has the strictest law against doping but to my mind up until today hasn't been properly implemented, that they would take note and realise that something needs to be done.”

McQuaid also said: “There is a problem in Spain because a high percentage of our doping cases come from there. Up to now, it doesn’t seem like there is the willingness to tackle this and it’s up to the government to do so.”

Soler affirmed: “Our approach to this issue is categorical. If it wasn’t, the World Anti-Doping Agency wouldn’t have re-elected [Spain’s minister for sport] Jaime Lissavetzky as a member of its executive. McQuaid, who is also on the executive committee, knows that perfectly well.

“He knows that our position is one of zero tolerance towards doping, and for that reason we don’t allow any leeway at all on this in any sport nor to any athlete.”

Soler added that the Spanish government will not be able to take any action on the four cases of doping involving Spanish riders until the UCI has officially confirmed results of the tests being undertaken on their samples.

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