UCI announces anti-doping hotline and seeks to assure riders that it will listen to concerns
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

UCI announces anti-doping hotline and seeks to assure riders that it will listen to concerns

by Shane Stokes at 2:24 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Governing body seeking to build bridges in advance of USADA report

UCIResponding to complaints that it didn’t do enough when people in the past tried to highlight doping problems, the UCI has released a letter it has sent to professional riders committing itself to setting up a hotline for people to voice concerns.

The president of the governing body, Pat McQuaid, has said that it welcomes greater involvement from riders who have information about doping practices in the sport, and that a confidential hotline will be established in the weeks ahead.

“When we read in the USADA dossier that Lance Armstrong and others were able to use doping throughout their careers, we have to admit that the tests provided by the scientific community were simply not adequate enough to combat the problem,” said McQuaid in the letter, which is reproduced below.

“Therefore we must all continue to work to keep improving the culture in cycling through education, prevention and as far as you are concerned by making the one choice that counts. At the end of the day it is you the riders who have the ultimate say about whether our sport is clean.”

For those who are racing without doping products but who know others who are, McQuaid said that the new phone line would enable them to act on those concerns.

“Naturally, we need to do more to ensure that the UCI is as accessible as possible, and in particular to you the riders, should you wish to discuss issues or concerns relating to doping. That is why, during the coming weeks, also after a small time frame to set up the logistical side, the UCI will be looking into establishing a new open line – a confidential ‘hotline’,” he wrote.

“I know that it will take some time to build trust and confidence in this new line of communication, but I am confident that, with the best intentions from both sides, we can build that trust. And by doing so, we will accelerate the change in culture that we need in our sport.”

McQuaid, former president Hein Verbruggen and others have been faulted by several riders in the past, with whistleblowers such as Paul Kimmage, Graeme Obree, Gilles Delion and others being dismissed when they publically voiced their concerns. In fact, for many years prior to the Festina Affair, the UCI – led then by Verbruggen – suggested doping was not a major issue in the sport, and journalists who wrote about it were at times berated for focussing on this area of the sport.

More recently, the German Jörg Jaksche said that the UCI did nothing to communicate with him when he spoke out about doping in the sport. The former CSC and Liberty Seguros rider was implicated in Operacion Puerto and admitted doping on June 30th 2007.

Jaksche said that the UCI showed no interest in his offer of information. Others such as Tyler Hamilton have also said that the governing body took no initiative in seeking details after they spoke out. Last month, McQuaid was quoted by various media as calling Hamilton and Landis ‘scumbags’ at its press conference discussing the USADA report.

In the letter, McQuaid seeks to play down any suggestions of inaction, contradicting what those professionals said. “We are aware that some riders have complained publicly that despite having shared knowledge with the UCI, there was an inadequate follow up,” he wrote. “I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that the UCI did act on information provided in the past and it will always do so in the future, within the bounds of what is legally feasible.”

He added that the UCI “has listened to the world’s reaction to the Lance Armstrong affair and it has taken – and will continue to take – decisive steps in response to all matters raised.”

These steps include the previously-announced establishment of an independent commission to look into the findings of the USADA report, as well a consultation between cycling’s various stakeholders.

He told the pro riders contacted that he welcomed members of the peloton to get involved.

“This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads. Nor is it the first time it has had to engage in the painful process of confronting its past and beginning afresh,” he wrote. “It will do so again with renewed vigour. Its stakeholders and fans can be assured that cycling will find a new path forward.”

Many have called for anti-doping to be removed entirely from the UCI, particularly in the wake of the Armstrong affair.



The full letter is as follows:


Dear rider,

I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the latest developments and decisions we have taken in response to the current crisis in our sport.

You will have seen in recent media reports that Philippe Gilbert, Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins among many others have been strong voices in telling the world that today’s cycling is cleaner than ever before. Of course, they are right. You, today’s riders not only participate in the most innovative and effective anti-doping programs in sport but above all you have understood which choice to make for your career and for your sport. The result is that our sport is cleaner.

Actually the UCI has always been a pioneer in the fight against doping, a fact recognized by WADA and the IOC among others. We pride ourselves on the fact that we were the first sport to introduce a whole range of scientific measures as tools in this fight. These include the haematocrit test, the EPO tests, the homologous blood transfusion test and the blood passport, which I do not need to tell you about, as you are in the front line and have been overwhelmingly supportive of these initiatives. We are aware that this extensive anti-doping program causes much inconvenience for you, and we thank you for having accepted the hassle for the greater good of cycling.

Nevertheless, when we read in the USADA dossier that Lance Armstrong and others were able to use doping throughout their careers, we have to admit that the tests provided by the scientific community were simply not adequate enough to combat the problem.

Therefore we must all continue to work to keep improving the culture in cycling through education, prevention and as far as you are concerned by making the one choice that counts. At the end of the day it is you the riders who have the ultimate say about whether our sport is clean.

Naturally, we need to do more to ensure that the UCI is as accessible as possible, and in particular to you the riders, should you wish to discuss issues or concerns relating to doping. That is why, during the coming weeks, also after a small time frame to set up the logistical side, the UCI will be looking into establishing a new open line – a confidential ‘hotline’. We will be sending more information about this once in place. I know that it will take some time to build trust and confidence in this new line of communication, but I am confident that, with the best intentions from both sides, we can build that trust. And by doing so, we will accelerate the change in culture that we need in our sport.

We are aware that some riders have complained publicly that despite having shared knowledge with the UCI, there was an inadequate follow up. I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that the UCI did act on information provided in the past and it will always do so in the future, within the bounds of what is legally feasible.

Clearly the UCI has to work within the rules and in particular in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code. At this time the rules do not allow general amnesties but the current review of the World Anti-Doping Code may provide different possibilities in the future. The rules do currently allow reduced penalties. We are aware, and doing the utmost to address your proposals/needs in the effort to do the best by our sport.

As far as repairing the reputation of our sport, I would like to add that the UCI has listened to the world’s reaction to the Lance Armstrong affair and it has taken – and will continue to take – decisive steps in response to all matters raised.

To make sure that the UCI and cycling can move forward with the confidence of all parties, we are now establishing a fully Independent Commission to look into the findings of the USADA report and make recommendations to enable the UCI to restore confidence in the sport of cycling. John Coates, the President of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS), has agreed to recommend the composition and membership of the Independent Commission. The UCI has already begun contacting the people Mr. Coates has nominated. The names of the panel members will be announced as soon as the Commission is convened. The Commission’s final report and recommendations will be published no later than 1 June 2013 – and you can be confident that the UCI will take whatever actions are deemed necessary to put cycling back on track. We are confident that the Commission will conclude that the UCI has been one of the strongest of all sporting federations in fighting doping in sport for many years.

As part of the effort to eradicate doping from our sport the UCI has made a considerable investment in education and implementation of the True Champion or Cheat program, the ‘no needle policy’, the ethical evaluation as part of teams’ registration and the modules in the Sports Directors training programme. These are all measures to achieve the necessary changes in the culture of our sport.

Finally, while the Independent Commission carries out its work, I feel it is also important that UCI works on restoring the credibility of our sport. I have decided that, during the first quarter of 2013, the UCI will set in motion a wide-ranging consultation exercise involving all cycling’s stakeholders to tackle issues of concern within the sport and work together to build a bright future for cycling.

The UCI will welcome your participation in this consultation, which will also look at how we can continue the process of globalising the sport, encourage wider participation and take measures to make the sport even more interesting for spectators.

This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads. Nor is it the first time it has had to engage in the painful process of confronting its past and beginning afresh. It will do so again with renewed vigour. Its stakeholders and fans can be assured that cycling will find a new path forward.

This summer in London, we saw that cycling is one of the world’s most popular sports. Its future will be defined by you the current generation of riders, who have proved that you can compete and win clean. In December, I will be meeting all first and second division teams to address the issues which will ensure a clean, anti-doping culture going forward.

Together, we can maintain cycling’s popularity and ensure its bright future.
Yours faithfully,


Pat McQuaid
President, UCI

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