While allegations of corruption and covered-up dope tests cause seismic shifts through the cycling world, a much smaller tremor could in fact lead to far greater reform and revolution from within the sport.
Swiss politicians are currently putting together a proposal that would see some of the world’s leading sports governing bodies, including the UCI, face far greater scrutiny in the eyes of international laws on corruption and accountability.
Switzerland is currently the home of cycling’s UCI, however, it’s also the base for the majority of the globe’s leading federations: the IOC, FIFA and UEFA. All three of those bodies have been embroiled in recent cases of bribery, corruption and match-fixing, which has led to the Swiss parliament to consider new laws. Currently none of these sporting organisations are subject to international anti-corruption treaties and laws or taxes.
“There are problems with accountability,” Roland Buechel tells Cyclingnews.
Buechel is a member of the Swiss parliament and represents the Swiss People's Party (SVP) in the Nationalrat, the Swiss parliament. He cut his teeth working for the Swiss Ski Federation and is pushing through proposals for revised laws.
His goals are focussed around cleaning up FIFA, UEFA and the IOC, however any such laws surrounding anti-corruption and taxes – something federations in Switzerland don’t pay - would have heavy implications on the UCI, who despite welcoming an FDA investigating into allegations of doping, corruption and fraud is not governed by any rulings or decisions from US courts.
“In sport there are four major problems,” Buechel says. “One is hooliganism, one is doping but my motion doesn’t have anything to do with that. My motion is about corruption in sport and there are two legs to this, one is within the federations and the other is outside of that and it’s to do with result fixing and betting.
“The federations want to look at match fixing but that’s not enough. They need to clean up their own act. There are cases that are known, not just speculation and allegations of corruption within FIFA and the IOC where bribes has been taken.
“There’s too much money involved these days so the chances therefore to become more corrupt are much bigger.”
Earlier this year, Jens Weinreich, a respected investigative reporter spoke to Buechel about the topics of corruption and accountability.
"Our parliament has now instructed the Bundesrat, the government, to analyze what happened in sports federations in terms of corruption and transparency. The comprehensive report should be delivered in December 2011. At the same time, if it is necessary, we will have to propose stricter laws,” Buechel then told Weinreich.
Weinreich also spoke to Anita Thanei of the Social Democratic Party. She is currently the head of the legal commission of the Swiss Parliament. Thanei told Weinreich that she wants to see governing bodies and their officials held to account.
With a recent BBC exposé into bribery and corruption in both FIFA and the IOC, it looks like Switzerland’s patience with the leading governing bodies could have knock on effects for the UCI.
"Private organizations, such as the football associations and all the other sports federations, have been monopolies. Corruption must be fought at all levels." Corrupt sport officials "who have received millions in bribery payments” must not go unpunished, she said.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has 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 runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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