Former UCI chief defends policy

Thu, Jan 24, 2013, 00:00

CYCLING:The under-pressure former president of cycling’s international governing body has defended its doping policy during the Lance Armstrong era, after admitting it regularly informed riders about suspicious test results.

Hein Verbruggen, who was head of the UCI between 1991 and 2005 and remains its honorary president, told the Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland it had informed dozens of riders including Armstrong over a period of years if they had recorded suspicious test results.

“It used to be the UCI’s policy – and indeed also of other federations – to discuss atypical blood test results, or other test results, with the riders concerned,” said Verbruggen yesterday in an attempt to justify the policy. “Riders who were doping [but who had yet to fail a test] were effectively warned that they were being watched and that they would be targeted with the aim of getting them to stop doping,” he said.

“However, if the atypical test results were genuinely not caused by doping, the rider also had the opportunity to have a medical check.”

Suspicious test

Armstrong’s suspicious test at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland led the UCI to set up a meeting with a laboratory director to explain how the test worked. The UCI has vehemently denied that donations totalling $125,000 that were received in 2002 and 2007 from Armstrong’s camp were linked to covering up a failed test at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland.

The policy of telling riders about suspect tests was formed “after some considerable debate and deliberation”, said Verbruggen. “Its purpose was to protect clean riders against competitors who might be doping, rather than to let those clean riders continue to be put at a disadvantage until such time that the drug cheats could be caught. It was intended to be a two-pronged attack on doping: prevention both by dissuasion and repression.”

This week the French newspaper Le Monde published a doping control document relating to Armstrong’s positive test for a corticosteroid during his first Tour win in 1999. Armstrong, who has been stripped of his seven Tour titles and banned from elite sport for life, admitted to Oprah Winfrey last week he used a back-dated prescription to avoid sanctions for doping. However, Le Monde’s evidence suggested the UCI should have disqualified Armstrong anyway for breaching its rules requiring declarations of therapeutic use of substances.

McQuaid replaced

Pat McQuaid, the embattled president of the UCI, has stood down from the panel assessing host cities for the 2020 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee has confirmed. McQuaid’s position as UCI president has been under scrutiny following the Armstrong scandal, with an independent commission set up to establish the relationship between cycling’s world governing body and the Texan.

McQuaid has been replaced on the committee by Patrick Baumann, secretary general of basketball’s world governing body.

An IOC spokesperson said: “Pat McQuaid decided to step down from the IOC evaluation commission as he was unable to attend the three visits to the candidate cities in March. He has been replaced by Fiba secretary general and IOC member Patrick Baumann.”

The remaining cities competing for the Games in 2020 are: Istanbul (Turkey), Madrid (Spain) and Tokyo (Japan). The election of the host city will take place on September 7th, 2013, at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Dekker to testify

Thomas Dekker, who was suspended for two years for doping, will give the Dutch Anti-Doping Agency the full extent of his knowledge about cheating, the Garmin-Sharp rider yesterday. Dekker said in a statement: “There are many details and people involved with my doping past. All of that, including the names of people who helped me will be given to the Anti-Doping Authority.”

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