Former HTC-Highroad team boss, Bob Stapleton has said the USADA Lance Armstrong doping scandal provides opportunity for “progressive change.”



“I like what’s going on in cycling right now,” he told Cycling Weekly last night prior to Rabobank pulling the plug on its 17-year run as team sponsor. “It’s painful, causing people a lot of sleepless nights, but I’d really like to see something progressive come out of this.”



Stapleton took over the T-Mobile team in 2006 transforming it in to Highroad when the German Telecommunications giant pulled out of the sport in the wake of the Operación Puerto scandal. He brought in sponsors Columbia and HTC and his mens and women’s teams accumulated over 500 wins and launched the careers of Mark Cavendish, Tony Martin and Edvald Boassen Hagen.



Some reports said that the RadioShack-Nissan team was interested in bringing in Stapleton to replace Johan Bruyneel, but the American denies this. He said that he said that he never heard from the team owner, Flavio Becca. “I don’t see the stability. I see chaos. I see lots of problems ahead for that [team].”



Stapleton believes stronger doping controls and creating a new league are now paramount. “You really aren’t going to get people who’ve been [previously] involved in doping out of the sport; they are in management positions, they are still riding. All you can do is double and triple up on the control system. … The criteria for the [biological] passport needs to get tougher, not easier…. The UCI has not been vigilante enough in using that control…. That’s part of the formula.”



“The other part is a clear and simple process that [reviews] these cases so you don’t have the [Alberto] Contador comeback and these guys who were busted and coming back into the sport after a short suspension. Let’s make it five years for a first and life-time for a repeat customer. The best thing the sport can do now is rigorously govern the conduct going forward.”



Former Sky’s rider Michael Barry recently suggested a new cycling league would help the sport change, a view that Garmin-Sharp GM, Jonathan Vaughters, has already made public.



“Frankly, the UCI needs to cede authority and be in a position to help drive change, protect the integrity of the sport,” Stapleton continued. “I would take elements of this league concept where you would align rights. The way to do this involves the UCI and recognising parties like the Amaurys [ASO]. You have to find a solution that incorporates the governments of the broader sport and more importantly, the economic stake that people have now.”



“Then you have to figure out how to grow the sport so it’s good for everybody, but the foundation is restoring the basic credibility of the enterprise, and that’s around a new set of rules that are rigorously enforced, very likely by a third party [so that they] are inescapable.”



“This is what makes the painful and very public death of one of sport’s great icons provocative. It is not so much about what happened in my mind, it’s all about what the hell are you going to do about it? If the outcome is a bunch of guys get suspended and the sport rolls around in turmoil for a couple of more years, then that’s pathetic. It’s all about taking some chances and making some fundamental changes.”

  • hugh anderson

    WHAT WE NEED IN CYCLING IS A LONGER BAN ON THE CHEATS THAT USADA LISTENED TO.THIS IS A COVER UP AND A DISGRACE,THE LEIPHEIMERS ZUBRISKI AND CO SHOULD GET 2 YEARS.HOW CAN THEY BE ALLOWED BACK IN AFTER 6 MONTHS OF SEASON,NO ONE ELSE IS.
    I FOR ONE MAY THINK ABOUT WHAT RACES I WATCH AND WHO IS IN THEM.
    BOB STAPLETON SHOULD TAKE THIS ON BOARD.WE CANT MOVE FORWARD IF THE RULES ARE GETTING MADE UP AS THEY GO ALONG.
    THIS SHOWER OF USADA SUPER GRASSES THINK THAT THE WORLD WILL FORGIVE THEM,AND ALL THE CYCLING FANS,AS LONG AS LANCE TAKES THE RAP,NOT A CHANCE.
    SKY HAVE THE RIGHT IDEA.ANYONE WHO CHEATED OR WAS IMPLICATED GET THEM OUT.THE REST OF THE TEAMS SHOULD DO SIMILAR,THEN WE CAN MOVE ON,AND WE CAN ALL PICK UP THE CYCLING MAGS AND START READING ABOUT CYCLING.

  • BFG

    I agree with a 5 year ban for a first offence and a life time ban for a second. But there should be a ban system configured for team management and a large fine for team owners to discourage the pressure placed upon riders to perform beyond their capabilities. The UCI hierarchy need to be sacked and replaced by people whom have a) Never been involved with doping. b) Have always openly been against doping. c) Never taken back handers. d) Have the balls to stand up against people like Armstrong. e) The interest of cycling at the heart of everything they do.
    Basically everything the current UCI is not!

  • jimmy the fish

    Why don’t they give that fella from Abergavenny a go at running it (the UCI)? He always seemed to have ambitions in that direction, What was his name now? You know, him with a mania to find the steepest hill possible in every event. He still owes Snookie for a clutch which burnt out on one race, but in the light of everything else that’s going on, that’s no big deal. What was his name again….you know the bloke, always hobnobbing with Hugh Porter.?

  • Mark

    I don’t think 5 years is long enough for a doping violation – I say that lifetime bans should be introduced now for any doping violations. After all, it’s been a 2-year ban for a long time, and has that wiped out doping ? I think the evidence speaks for itself….

    And I do have to ask, bearing in mind Team Sky’s laudable commitment to rooting out past dopers, why, oh why, is Bjarne Riis still allowed to run a team ? A self-confessed doper who, surprise surprise, has Contador on his team, whom he has backed to the hilt. It stinks.

  • Kevin Davies

    Is this the same Jonathan Vaughters that has three riders currently banned as part of the testimony against lance Armstrong for 6 months each yet he has not sacked them! Great that he wants a premier league for cycling, I suggest he leads by example, he sacks them and get three hungry youngsters in who he can be confident will not dope or who have doped in the past?

  • Ken Evans

    Dope testing should be taken away from the UCI, so there is no chance to cover up positives.

    In sport nobody remembers who came second, all the money is earned by the winner.

    The culture of doping in cycling goes back decades, it has been very difficult to change in the past.

    The influx of new countries to cycling, such as America, is shaking up the old guard.

    The UCI really needs reform, the secretive old-boy methods of the past don’t work in the 21st century.

  • ALM

    The big issue here is the apparent incompetence of the UCI. What have they done to address the problem? I understand there is a procedure they must go through in the USADA case, but we need immediate action on the general issue, instead of the silence. Is this not one of the big reasons why Rabobank have walked away? We need a man like Bob Stapleton for UCI president. A man who can implement the necessary changes.

  • Matt Bridge

    The riders need to have strong incentives not to dope. How about teams hold back 20% of their annual income every year and after 10 years or similar period they receive this back, if in that time they have not been proven guilty of doping. Also I agree with much harsher bans like the 5 years and life.

  • Sandy

    @ TG
    Have you thought through your idea in the slightest? Moron!

  • Ronan Fox

    “more importantly, the economic stake that people have”

    It’s clear from that sentence that Mr Stapleton sees the sport as a business. Fans are customers to him and the long heritage of cycling is merely a marketing asset .

    This drive towards greater and greater riches for the few is one of the factors behind expensive and sophisticated doping systems.

    Maybe a spell in the wilderness, with very limited budgets, is just what the sport needs.

  • john westwell

    Sadly, removing prize money wouldn’t make a difference. Sponsors put money into teams to gain exposure. Maximum exposure is gained by winning major events. Sponsors have in the past been complicit in pressurising riders to use banned drugs in order to improve performances – David Millar has explained this very well in his book. Although it’s regrettable that Rabobank have pulled the plug on sponsorship, I’m sure they didn’t look too closely into the ethics of the team when riders like Michael Boogert and Rasmussen were putting their name in a prominent position in the media.

  • christafano

    “You aren’t going to get people who dope out of the sport; they’re in management positions, they’re still riding.” would be a more accurate quote.

  • TG

    How about remove all prize money from racing. Use this money to put more grass roots events on (with no prize money also). Everyone will just race for the prestige of winning. Professional salaries are big enough for the pro’s to live on.