The Union Cycliste International (UCI) is holding its ground regarding Lance Armstrong, saying it has cover up nothing. It is waiting for the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to pass along its files before it makes its next move.
The international federation’s president, Pat McQuaid spoke today in a press conference at the World Championships in Valkenburg, The Netherlands. Over the hour, most of the questions centred on doping and the Armstrong investigation.
On August 24, the US agency stripped Armstrong of all of his wins, including his seven Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005. It uncovered that he possessed, trafficked and administered banned drugs and methods.
McQuaid refused to comment as to whether the investigation’s findings have been a good thing for cycling. He said, “For the moment, I cannot really comment directly on them because a lot of them are statements or allegations by people, and until we see what the facts are, I don’t want to comment on those.”
Floyd Landis largely kicked off the investigation. He wrote e-mails to the US and International cycling federation detailing the doping practices during his years racing with Armstrong. He claimed the UCI covered up Armstrong’s positive doping tests, in particular, one from the 2001 Tour de Suisse. Another of Armstrong’s former team-mates, Tyler Hamilton said nearly the same thing in his book, The Secret Race, which he released on September 5. Further, the French anti-doping agency recently said that Armstrong was informed in advance of surprise testing.
Cyclist David Millar of team Garmin was also present in the press conference as a journalist working for the BBC. He served a ban for EPO use and returned to cycling in 2006 to become cycling’s de facto spokesman and a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athlete Committee. He explained that the US investigation is good for cycling.
“I think it’s going to end up being the best thing for cycling, I really do believe that,” Millar said. “We’ll no longer have this shadow lurking in the background. I think we can all try to be on the same page now moving forward, which would have never been without the USADA case.”
Millar added that it is “just a shame” the UCI fails to present itself so well.
McQuaid stood his ground for the UCI when asked whether the investigation’s findings would possibly help move cycling forward.
“In relation to hiding a sample, the UCI has never hidden a sample of any rider, in particular of Lance Armstrong,” McQuaid said. “In relation to other statements made by people that the UCI had informed Armstrong in advance of testing, that’s a complete fallacy and completely ridiculous.”
The UCI said it performed 215 controls of the around 500 controls that Armstrong said he underwent when he raced.
“So the other 280 of them were done by other agencies – the WADA, the USADA, the AFLD – so if the UCI was informing him, who was informing him from the other agencies?”
He pointed to the advances the UCI have made, like the biological passport that tracks riders’ blood and urine readings overtime for possible irregularities that may point to doping.
“We’ve always put in place what the system provides us with as soon as the system provides us with it, and sometimes we are the first, like with the biological passport. … Anything that is available to us in the fight against doping, we use it.”
McQuaid said that he is waiting for the investigation files from the USADA before commenting. It is unlikely, he said, that the federation will appeal the agency’s decision
“The UCI still assumes that the reasoned decision and file will justify the USADA’s position on all of the issues,” he explained. “The UCI is ready to take its responsibly, unless the USADA’s decision gives us serious reason to do otherwise, we have no intention to go to CAS or not to recognise USADA’s sanctions.”
He added that he is unaware of when the agency’s files may arrive. He heard that maybe it would be this weekend or in two weeks’ time.
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