McQuaid deflects blame for scandal away from UCI, defends Verbruggen’s presidency

UCI president Pat McQuaid defends the UCI against claims that its conduct left the door open for a doping scandal

Photo: AFP

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GENEVA (AFP) — UCI president Pat McQuaid warned against blaming the sport’s authorities for doping scandals after the UCI banned Lance Armstrong for life and stripped him of his seven Tour de France wins on Monday.

McQuaid’s predecessor in the post, Hein Verbruggen, has come under scrutiny for his role in the Armstrong Affair, as he was at the helm of the sport throughout the American’s run of consecutive Tour wins between 1999 and 2005.

In particular, Verbruggen has been accused of shielding the Texan, amidst claims that Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service teammates received advance notice of the arrival of drug testers. The UCI also accepted a donation from Armstrong in 2002 that Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton have alleged was intended to cover up a positive test for EPO from the 2001 Tour de Suisse.

Responding to questions about whether he supports Verbruggen in his current role as honorary president, McQuaid told AFP, “It’s not a case of me supporting him or not. There’s been nothing proven in the USADA case that he did anything wrong.”

“With respect, I think some of the athletes who are calling for his resignation, what they’re doing is trying to shirk their own responsibility. These are guys who are adults, and who took the decision to dope,” he said. “And I don’t think that’s anybody else’s fault but their own. You can’t pass that responsibility on to the president or whoever. It’s their own fault.”

Retired Spanish rider Oscar Pereiro, who won the 2006 Tour de France after American rival Floyd Landis was disqualified for doping, said he believed that “the whole of the UCI should resign” over the Armstrong Affair.

Pereiro said, “If the accusations of Lance’s former colleagues prove accurate, for instance, saying they were tipped off ahead of tests, then the UCI is also caught up in this — they should all resign.”

McQuaid, however, said the UCI had seen no evidence that U.S. Postal Service riders received advance notice of drug tests.

He added, “I don’t think you can blame the authorities for what these guys were doing and I think it’s wrong for these guys to try and do that.”

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