Armstrong critical of 'pathetic' UCI chief McQuaid

Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 00:00

DOPING IN CYCLING:Speaking for the first time since his Oprah Winfrey interview, Lance Armstrong has criticised International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid and said he believes the Irishman is primarily focused on protecting his position.

“Pat is just in constant CYA (Cover Your Ass) mode. Pathetic,” he told the website cyclingnews.comyesterday.

Armstrong, who was handed down a life ban last August by the US Anti-Doping Agency and later saw that ban validated by the UCI, recently reversed his long-time insistence he never doped and admitted using banned substances for much of his career.

He said then if the sport introduced a truth and reconciliation process, he would be “the first guy through the door”.

He told cyclingnews.comhe recommended that option to the UCI president in the past but was told he wasn’t interested. “When I was on speaking terms with ol’ Pat McQuaid many, many months ago I said, ‘Pat, you better think bold here. A full blown, global, TRC is our sports best solution’. He wanted to hear nothing of it,” said Armstrong.

However, McQuaid has now come around to that way of thinking. This week the UCI controversially shelved the independent commission it established late last year and said it wanted to implement a truth and reconciliation process.

Armstrong said that if it happened, every top three finisher in cycling’s big races should be summoned to appear before it.

“It’s not my place to set the parameters but if you’re asking, I’d say that if you are alive today and you podiumed in a Grand Tour or WC then you should be called. Sounds ambitious but the authorities have proven that nothing with regards to cycling is time barred.”

Amnesty granted

He added that if an amnesty was not granted then no one would show up.

During the Winfrey interview Armstrong avoided mentioning many of those who are believed to have helped him dope, including former team manager Johan Bruyneel. He also downplayed the involvement of the controversial Italian doctor Michele Ferrari. Asked about that, he denied he tried to shield the Italian or anyone else.

“I wasn’t protecting anyone. I was there to speak about myself, my experiences and my mistakes,” he said. “No one else. I know that goes against what we have grown used to in the last few years in cycling but I’m only interested in owning up to my mistakes. I’m a big boy and I’m not in the blame game.”

Meanwhile, McQuaid has responded to criticism of the UCI by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), accusing its president John Fahey of waging a crusade against the sport.

“We have now reached this sorry juncture because Wada publicly questioned the independence of the independent commission,” he wrote in a statement released by the UCI. “I would therefore urge the president of Wada . . . to set his personal vendetta and crusade against cycling aside and to support the UCI in doing what is right for cycling.”

Frustration with the UCI

Wada has faulted the UCI over its decision to abandon the independent commission.

The commission demonstrated frustration with the UCI last Friday when it challenged the governing body over its failure to turn over files deemed important for the investigation. It was also critical of the UCI’s refusal to grant an amnesty to witnesses coming forward.

Q&A: What Armstrong said . . .

Cycling News: Truth is easy to explain but what sort of reconciliation would you like personally and for others that help/testify?

Armstrong: Let’s be honest, folks in my situation have their own selfish reasons. It’s why we are here. Floyd felt singled out so therefore he went public, amongst other things. Removing my selfishness, the fact remains that it is the best thing for cycling.

Cycling News: Would you hope that your ban was reduced if you testified to Wada?

Armstrong: That’s irrelevant. What is relevant is that everyone is treated equally and fairly. We all made the mess, let’s all fix the mess, and let’s all be punished equally.

Cycling News: When you came into the sport, it probably wasn’t to dope, it wasn’t to cheat but at what point, specifically, did you realize that was how cycling worked and that the governing body weren’t dealing with the situation?

Armstrong: My generation was no different than any other. The “help” has evolved over the years but the fact remains that our sport is damn hard, the Tour was invented as a stunt, and very tough mother f**kers have competed for a century and all looked for advantages.

From hopping on trains 100 years ago to EPO now. No generation was exempt or “clean”. Not Merckx’s, not Hinault’s, not LeMond’s, not Coppi’s, not Gimondi’s, not Indurain’s, not Anquetil’s, not Bartali’s, and not mine.

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