McQuaid admits doping amnesty an option


Cycling:British rider David Millar, banned for two years in 2004 for doping, has lambasted proposals to implement an amnesty for drug takers in a bid to clean up the sport. Cycling was rocked last month when the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said it was stripping Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles after the American said he would not contest doping charges made against him.

Since Alberto Contador failed a dope test following his 2010 Tour victory, the sport had looked to be making progress in its long fight against doping. The idea of holding a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" of sorts has been suggested but an amnesty for wrongdoers who come forward and give evidence does not appeal to Millar.

"If you did something wrong there needs to be some culpability," he said today. "We can't just say let's draw a line now and pretend nothing happened in the past because things happened in the past. We have to accept where we've been and where we are now, that's the only way to move forward.”

The 35-year-old Garmin-Sharp rider, a BBC commentator at this week's road world championships and also a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency athletes' commission, has made much of being a reformed character. "It didn't do me any harm being banned for two years. I sorted my life out," he said. "The reason the sport is so clean now is because of the culture shift."

Millar was present at an hour-long news conference with International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid, with the pair entering into a passionate debate.

"Don't you think you're sending a wrong message when you said the UCI has nothing to be apologetic for?" asked Millar. McQuaid answered: "No. How could we be apologetic? The UCI is not responsible for the culture of doping."

McQuaid acknowledged an amnesty was possible but not immediately.

"First of all it would be wrong to do anything in the middle of that USADA/Armstrong case," he said. "The UCI works within the rules of the World Anti-Doping code and that does not allow an amnesty. The new code is coming in 2015 and there are talks that discussions (of the possibility of an amnesty) could be allowed."

For Armstrong's sanction to be fully effective, the UCI needs to ratify USADA's decision, which it says it cannot yet do. "We still haven't received neither the reasoned decision nor the file," said McQuaid.

The UCI president thinks the fight against doping is beginning to be won with the 2008 introduction of the biological passport, which allows the monitoring of blood data from all professional riders, a major tool.

"Our goal is to create a good platform for those coming into the sport," he said. "There has been a culture of doping in the sport. Our objective is to change that culture. You don't change a culture overnight. I think we will get there.

"The UCI is doing its utmost in changing that culture. There is the biological passport, there are education programmes for athletes coming into the sport."

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