SKINS chairman Fuller calls on McQuaid to act decisively over doping scandal or resign
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Friday, October 19, 2012

SKINS chairman Fuller calls on McQuaid to act decisively over doping scandal or resign

by Shane Stokes at 5:28 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Industry figure says UCI is ‘at the precipice of universal disgrace’

Pat McQuaidIn what is an all-guns-blazing open letter directed at Pat McQuaid, the chairman of one of the companies backing several cycling teams and federations has called on him to either put the sport on the right footing or resign from his position as president of the UCI.

Jaimie Fuller, chairman of the SKINS compression clothing company has written a critical message to the president, saying that the Lance Armstrong debacle has ensured that the sport is on very bad footing and in danger of suffering irreparable harm.

“The Lance Armstrong scandal has exposed the sport to an embarrassing level of global disrepute. In short, world cycling is a mess and as President of the UCI, you and those of your colleagues charged with its executive management, must act now to restore confidence in world cycling or withdraw from office,” he said in a letter issued this week.

“Currently, my company, SKINS remains a commercial partner to a discredited sport and has invested considerable amounts of time and money to develop the sport of Cycling and it is the responsibility of the UCI to act appropriately in support of SKINS and the other commercial stakeholders and sponsors around the world.

“As President, you must move immediately to repair damage that, if left to suffer further inertia from the highest office, will be impossible to rectify.”

Fuller pointed to the USADA dossier against Lance Armstrong, saying that it contained a bulk of evidence that was “so deeply damaging to the sport's reputation that the current inertia from those at its heart would be laughable if it was not so potentially dangerous.”

He pointed to the steady stream of sponsors walking away from Armstrong as an indication of the trouble the Texan is in, yet notes that he has remained silent. Fuller demands that the UCI must persuade Armstrong to publically address the accusations against him without further delay, suggesting that every passing day causes further harm.

“The UCI itself currently stands at the precipice of universal disgrace. It is an organisation that bizarrely accepted a generous personal donation from Mr. Armstrong ten years ago to 'develop the sport' and you will be aware there is mounting speculation as to the motivation for such benevolence. The phrase ‘conflict of interest’ immediately springs to mind.”

He pointed to media reports this week of an alleged payment of $500, 000 on behalf of Armstrong to former UCI President Hein Verbruggen as a further issue which must be addressed, and said that this plus the Dutchman’s previously-reported assertion that Armstrong had ‘never, never, never doped’ were issues that further eroded the UCI’s credibility.

“The UCI has a responsibility to pro-actively defend sport rather than overtly or covertly defend Lance Armstrong,” he said. “If those charged with upholding or repairing the dignity of the UCI cannot present credible and transparent answers to critical questions with a clear conscience, there is only one option.”

He concluded by imploring McQuaid to either ensure that Armstrong addresses the evidence against him, or to resign in order to “allow others to steer the recovery path at this crucial time.”



The full open letter is as follows:


An Open Letter to Mr. Pat McQuaid, President UCI from Jaimie Fuller, Chairman SKINS

Mr. President,

As the Chairman of SKINS, a global high performance sports brand originating in Australia, and a commercial partner to Cycling Australia, Bike NZ, Rabobank Professional Cycling teams, Team Lotto Belisol and Team NetApp, plus the anti-doping organisation, Bike Pure, I am writing this open letter to urge immediate action to prevent the irreparable implosion and collapse of world cycling.

The Lance Armstrong scandal has exposed the sport to an embarrassing level of global disrepute. In short, world cycling is a mess and as President of the UCI, you and those of your colleagues charged with its executive management, must act now to restore confidence in world cycling or withdraw from office.

Currently, my company, SKINS remains a commercial partner to a discredited sport and has invested considerable amounts of time and money to develop the sport of Cycling and it is the responsibility of the UCI to act appropriately in support of SKINS and the other commercial stakeholders and sponsors around the world.

As President, you must move immediately to repair damage that, if left to suffer further inertia from the highest office, will be impossible to rectify.

As the Chairman of an active performance cycling industry participant, I demand that your response to USADA's comprehensive report on Lance Armstrong's activities includes a transparent and credible reparation programme. You must act as your position demands, or step aside. Tell the world what you intend to do or allow others with energy and fortitude to lead the sport through its current crisis.

The USADA dossier includes supporting evidence from a long list of professional athletes, medics and support staff that is so deeply damaging to the sport's reputation that the current inertia from those at its heart would be laughable if it was not so potentially dangerous. Your reflection of a 21-day period to present a response to USADA's report is simply unacceptable. Every day that Mr. Armstrong refuses to respond to the serious and comprehensive evidence USADA has presented, damages the sport you govern and likely strengthens public perception of irreparable harm. In the last 48 hours, a series of sponsors have ended their associations with Mr. Armstrong but the silence from him remains deafening. The evidence suggests that denial from Mr. Armstrong would now appear illogical but turning away without any explanation shows a complete lack of respect for a sport that has provided Mr. Armstrong with so much - however it was achieved. The UCI and you as President, must use this process as a platform for redemption and change.

The UCI itself currently stands at the precipice of universal disgrace. It is an organisation that bizarrely accepted a generous personal donation from Mr. Armstrong ten years ago to 'develop the sport' and you will be aware there is mounting speculation as to the motivation for such benevolence. The phrase ‘conflict of interest’ immediately springs to mind. The UCI must therefore clarify its independence beyond all doubt and persuade your erstwhile benefactor to confront these allegations publicly. This must be done now to prevent further damage to the sport's withering credibility and lasting reputation.

I condemn Lance Armstrong for any drug-related misdemeanors, but equally, I praise the philanthropic brilliance he has shown to make such an impact in the fight against cancer. Such work, of course, could not have been achieved without success as a professional cyclist and I firmly believe that a public response by him on the evidence delivered in the USADA report is vital if long-term redemption is to be achieved for all parties. Evasion and delay is not only unsatisfactory, it is morally reprehensible.

Allegations of UCI complicity are also gaining dangerous momentum with accusations not only that senior officials knew what was going on but also failed to act in the wider interest. One recent media report provides evidence of a statement given under oath, which alleges a payment of $500,000 into a bank account that belonged to your colleague, Mr. Hein Verbruggen, during his period as president. The 2006 deposition claimed the payment was made to ensure that a positive drugs test on Mr. Armstrong was covered up. Mr. Verbruggen, who is now of course Honorary President, has also been ridiculed for apparently suggesting Lance "never used doping." I understand Mr. Verbruggen has since denied making the comment, but a pattern of critical doubt is emerging about the overall credibility of the UCI and its most senior officers and seriously questions the culture within the UCI. The UCI has a responsibility to pro-actively defend sport rather than overtly or covertly defend Lance Armstrong. If those charged with upholding or repairing the dignity of the UCI cannot present credible and transparent answers to critical questions with a clear conscience, there is only one option.

The British cyclist, David Millar confessed to his misdemeanors and is now an active anti-doping campaigner. The American athlete Marion Jones continued to deny the use of performance enhancing drugs and ended up in jail. I implore you to either ensure that Lance Armstrong confronts the allegations of being a 'serial drugs cheat' in order to start the process of restoring confidence in the great sport of Cycling, or resign your position to allow others to steer the recovery path at this crucial time.


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