Millar calls for Verbruggen’s resignation, says sport must move forward
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Millar calls for Verbruggen’s resignation, says sport must move forward

by VeloNation Press at 10:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
“It was under Verbruggen's presidency that it was at its worst, yet there were all these denials from the UCI”

David MillarFollowing on from this week’s publishing of USADA’s explosive files on Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team, which revealed a vast doping network which reaped huge success including seven Tour de France titles, British rider David Millar has called on Hein Verbruggen to resign.

Verbruggen was president of the UCI at the time and until the 1998 Festina Affair, denied that the sport had a widespread problem.

He continued to play down the extent of the issue in the years since, and last year was quoted by the AD.nl website as saying that he was sure that Lance Armstrong didn’t use performance enhancing products.

“That's impossible, because there is nothing. I repeat once again: Lance Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never.”

This week, one year and five months after the article was printed, he has denied he said that.

Millar recently put questions to current UCI President Pat McQuaid at the road race world championships. He was there for the BBC and asked if McQuaid accepted that the UCI had a share of the blame for the doping epidemic which had prevailed.

McQuaid rejected it, saying that the UCI could not be faulted.

Writing for the Daily Mail today, Millar has said that there needs to be change at the top, and that Verbruggen, who is the UCI honorary president and a current member of the management committee, must relinquish those positions.

“The UCI have to accept they have to carry some responsibility for this because it was obvious what was going on,” he said.

“The UCI had all the blood data, the medical reports, it was part of the culture of the sport and in the big races the majority of riders were doing it on drugs. There was only a tiny minority getting good results without drugs and they really were the outsiders.

“The first step for the UCI is that Verbruggen has to be removed. There is no doubt about that - [current president] Pat McQuaid has to distance himself because it was under Verbruggen's presidency that it was at its worst and yet there were all these denials coming from the UCI.

“He was at the head of organisation with the biggest doping problem in history of sport. He's still there. He doesn't have to commit hari kari, he should just admit that mistakes were made and we have all made mistakes.”

Millar served a two-year ban after he admitted in 2004 to using EPO. He returned in 2006 and has been outspoken about the issue. He is also a member of the athletes committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

He said that he felt the sport was on a far better footing now than before, but that more steps need to be taken.

“Cycling went into an abyss but we have climbed out and changed the sport, yet there is still all this baggage we are carrying around.

“Hopefully this will remove that baggage and the sport can confront and be honest about the past and not deny it, and not have the confusion so that no one knew what to believe.”

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