Millar accuses McQuaid and UCI over cycling's doping past, Kimmage takes to Twitter to thank supporters

British rider says governing body shirks responsibility for doping issues, fans raise fighting fund for Irish journalist being sued for defamation

by Simon_MacMichael   September 24, 2012  

Pat McQuaid © Simon MacMichael.jpg

Garmin-Sharp rider David Millar has accused UCI president Pat McQuaid and the governing body of shirking responsibility for cycling’s doping culture rather than trying to learn from the lessons of the past. Meanwhile, a legal defence fund has been set up for journalist Paul Kimmage, who is being sued for defamation by the UCI, McQuaid and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen, and an online petition has also been set up calling on the UCI president to resign.

Millar, who served a two year ban for doping between 2004 and 2006 and has since become an advocate against doping, including sitting on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s athletes’ panel, was working as an expert commentator for the BBC during last weeks UCI Road World Championships where he quizzed McQuaid on the subject of doping during a press conference, reports Inside The Games.

"Don't you think you're sending a wrong message when you said the UCI has nothing to be apologetic for?" he asked the UCI President.

"No,” replied McQuaid. "How could we be apologetic? The UCI is not responsible for the culture of doping.

"We do more testing than anyone else. If we got information at any point in time, we would act on that information.

Referring to Millar’s own past, he said: "You did what you did, and you didn't rush to inform that to the UCI.

"Others doped and then spent small fortunes to tell the UCI and the world they didn't dope, only to later say they did.

"The UCI is not to blame for the culture of doping in the sport."

However, in his autobiography Racing Through the Dark, Millar reveals how after returning from his ban, he contacted the UCI about his suspicions over doping at his then team, Saunier Duval, including writing to McQuaid personally, but he never received a reply.

Speaking after his exchange with McQuaid in the Netherlands last week, Millar said: “The UCI don't seem to accept any responsibility for the last 15 years," said Millar after his showdown with McQuaid.

"We need them to show leadership and acceptance for us to move forward.

"If it is apparent there was a black period, I think it's time for the UCI to say, 'Maybe we didn't do everything we could have done, and we're sorry for that.'

"Now they're just saying, 'Oh, we did everything we could, we have no regrets.'

"It was an era in the sport when doping was prevalent.

“It's something we all have to admit to now.

"It's not that we can just pretend it didn't happen.

"We're seeing now there are repercussions and that's a good thing."

Those repercussions, of course, include the recent lifetime ban handed out to Lance Armstrong by the US Anti Doping Agency, with the Texan also stripped of results including the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005.

While USADA’s full reasons for the sanction imposed on Armstrong have not yeat been made public, part of its case involves an alleged positive test for EPO during the 2001 Tour de Suisse that is claimed to have been covered up by the UCI.

That allegation was previously aired against the governing body by the Irish former professional cyclist turned journalist, Paul Kimmage, and last week a subpoena was served on him on behalf of the UCI, McQuaid and Verbruggen alleging that their reputations had been damaged by articles Kimmage wrote for The Sunday Times and other publications.

Kimmage was made redundant by the Sunday Times earlier this year, and the website NY Velocity has publicised a fighting fund to help him meet the costs of his defence in the lawsuit, which has been filed in Switzerland.

Donations currently stand at more than $17,000, with NY Velocity saying: “The UCI are taking Paul Kimmage to court for writing that they covered up a positive for Lance Armstrong.

"The same accusation is leveled by [Tyler] Hamilton and [Daniel] Coyle in The Secret Race, and will likely be further corroborated when USADA present their case against Armstrong.

"As [journalist and author] David Walsh has pointed out, the UCI are vindictively suing only Kimmage and not the publications in which those accusations appeared (that includes us!). Some friends have set up a Chipin for Kimmage's defense fund below."

Kimmage himself, previously absent from Twitter, set up an account on the social network specifically to thank those who supported him.

“Twitter is not for the impulsive so these are a first and the last,” was his first tweet, quickly followed by five others.

“To those who have supported me - a sincere thanks. I am truly humbled.

“To sports fans: There is nothing wrong with cycling that some truth and honesty can't.

“To Pat McQuaid: An admission, I actually admired you once.

“To Hein Verbruggen, a question: Does this ring a bell?

“'J'ai les moyens de vous faire un coureur positif quand je veux...' [I have the means of making you a rider who tests positive whenever I want - ed.]

That looked like being Kimmage’s final tweet, but he was subsequently persuaded by Walsh to carry on tweeting, explaining: “@DavidWalshST a mentor and best friend since 1982 informs me I have a duty to those who have supported me to keep tweeting.”

Meanwhile, as highlighted recently on the forum, an online petition has been set up to request McQuaid to resign as UCI president. As many of the comments to that post make clear, that’s perhaps wishful thinking, and to date the petition has garnered fewer than 500 signatures.

As in-the-know blogger Innr Ring pointed out in a blog post last year, McQuaid, who succeeded Verbruggen in 2005, is next up for re-election in 2013 and certainly at that time his view was that the voting process made it “near impossible” to dislodge the UCI president.

Whether that still holds true as the Armstrong saga continues to play itself out remains to be seen.

17 user comments

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Petition is here if anyone fancies signing

Now at 400 signatures

posted by Sylvanus Urban [11 posts]
24th September 2012 - 11:25


Sounds like Millar is just passing the buck here. He cheated by doping and faced the consequences, simple as that, regardless of how the UCI dealt with it, surely ....

posted by Karbon Kev [682 posts]
24th September 2012 - 11:47


How has this got anything to do with Millar's past transgression? He took his punishment on the chin, moved on and is now anti-doping. So what?

Millar's making the point that the whole culture within the sport served to encourage, or at the very least turn a blind eye, to doping. The fact that the governing body has presided over that era implies that the UCI could and should have done more in terms of cultural change within the peloton.

As for "I have the means of making you a rider who tests positive whenever I want" - well if Verbruggen (or anyone else at the UCI) ever said that, it's just downright corrupt.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3682 posts]
24th September 2012 - 12:09



We have to move past laying the blame solely on individual riders (though, I don't have time for unrepentant dopers). The riders are each just a small piece of a much larger system. The riders who are doping today mostly can not be the same as the riders who were doping 15 years ago, or 30 years ago, or whatever number of years ago.

You have to look beyond the riders and ask what can be improved in the system in general.

posted by Paul J [761 posts]
24th September 2012 - 12:29


“'J'ai les moyens de vous faire un coureur positif quand je veux...' [I have the means of making you a rider who tests positive whenever I want - ed.]

WoW ! sounds like threat from the Devil himself, scary if you are on the receiving end.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1092 posts]
24th September 2012 - 13:43


Kev, I think you are totally wrong on this point re. Millar. He is certainly not passing the buck, he's talking about the UCI's responsibility.

I thought he spoke well about it on BBC at the weekend, a video of his interview with Jill Douglas here:

I have added my name to the petition. For too long Paul Kimmage has been a lone voice in the wilderness. No-one else had the nerve to go face-to-face with Lance Armstrong in a 2009 press conference and call him "the cancer in the sport". That takes some strength of character! Chapeau, and I hope he kicks Pat McQuaid's fat arse, both in court and elsewhere.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2296 posts]
24th September 2012 - 13:52


And adding to Simon's comment above it should be noted that PK's 'Rough Ride' was well ahead of its time in writing about the doping situation in cycling.

Blackhound's picture

posted by Blackhound [462 posts]
24th September 2012 - 14:13


Bizarrely David Walsh has tweeted that Tyler Hamilton has agreed to auction memorabilia to help fund Kimmage's Defense.
This seems to be gathering a huge amount of momentum

It would be a bizarre twist if the UCI's petty gripe against Kimmage was the card that brings the whole house down. He might be the one person able to galvanise all that disillusionment, fans, riders, media. Whether or not he wishes to do that is another question. I only hope his career as a journalist/writer doesn't become compromised by the whole affair if it does turn into some circus. USADA imminent release of documents will to doubt ratchet this up to another level again.

_SiD_'s picture

posted by _SiD_ [180 posts]
24th September 2012 - 14:23


Blackhound wrote:
And adding to Simon's comment above it should be noted that PK's 'Rough Ride' was well ahead of its time in writing about the doping situation in cycling.

I've nearly bought it in the past, but am wary of being made so totally cynical as to harm my passion for the sport. If I read it am I going to feel that pro racing is pointless afterwards?

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3682 posts]
24th September 2012 - 15:53


Kimmage, Millar et al have all highlighted the cultural problem of acquiescence to and secrecy about doping at all levels in the pro cycling world - all we want (as cycling fans) is to get at the truth so we can learn how better to strengthen/protect clean riders, promote ethical team management and boost confidence in how our sport is regulated.

The sad fact that Pat and the boys at the UCI are targeting Kimmage is proof (if any were needed) that Pat and the boys have a bad case of "lost the plot". They're pursuit of Kimmage is already backfiring badly.


posted by Sudor [184 posts]
24th September 2012 - 16:34


The conundrum the UCI face is difficult escape.

It licences cyclists to race, the behavior of a cyclist impacts on weather or not a licence is given and if the cyclist retains that licence.

Given that McQuaid has identified doping as a generally known culture within cycling of the past. Then why did why did the UCI fail to act?


The UCI was incompetent in that in did not notice that doping was being practiced by a large number the riders it licensed or incompetent in not finding a way to deal with the problem


The UCI was passively or actively involved in covering up doping. Only choosing to act once public and more importantly sponsor pressure actually threatened the existence of the sport.

Thus it it perfectly reasonable to accept the the McQuaid argument. That "The UCI is not responsible for the culture of doping". But it is also reasonable to assume that like the doping cyclist it condemns the UCI is responsible for it's actions or lack of relating to doping.


posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
24th September 2012 - 17:02


A strange statement, KK; I don't see what your argument is. Millar's blaming the UCI for what he did and he got sanctioned irrespective of the UCI? Millar's actually saying that the UCI needs to fess up and confront what has gone on. Otherwise, especially with the sh#t that will hit the sport with the USADA case against Armstrong, cycling will descend from its current high profile back to Festina-era laughing stock. McQuaid and Verbruggen won't fess because they're up to their necks in it (allegedly but looking increasingly complicit) and up their own pompous a#ses. Which brings us to Kimmage, his cause needs supporting, which you can do here:

dullard's picture

posted by dullard [140 posts]
24th September 2012 - 18:50


There are skeletons in the closet for sure. Slapping a subpoena on Kimmage has all the hallmarks of a scared animal backed into a corner. It was a tactic Armstrong used to frighten those who stood against him. It turned out to be futile. I believe the same will be true for McQuad and the UCI. We have yet to hear the full facts of the USADA case, but it is only a matter of time until we do. And it'll be a matter of timing too... Time for a breakaway league anyone?

posted by petejuk [25 posts]
24th September 2012 - 21:39


notfastenough wrote:
Blackhound wrote:
And adding to Simon's comment above it should be noted that PK's 'Rough Ride' was well ahead of its time in writing about the doping situation in cycling.

I've nearly bought it in the past, but am wary of being made so totally cynical as to harm my passion for the sport. If I read it am I going to feel that pro racing is pointless afterwards?

The doping that has happened since Paul wrote Rough Ride in 1990 is considerably more complex, riders' and teams' actions deliberately evasive and financially lucrative. The Festina affair happened 8 years later and, despite the hoo-ha, nothing really changed. Kimmage, David Walsh and Greg LeMond, were among the few that were prepared to stand up and be counted while everyone was siding with Armstrong et al and slinging mud at anyone who dared even mention the possibility of omerta. Oh, and don't forget Betsy Andreu, someone with quite some strength of character!

So maybe it would have put you off 10 years ago but surely not in the year that Wiggins and Froome swept the Tour podium and Cavendish wore the rainbow bands (and to be worn for the next 12 months by an outspoken critic of doping)?

But buy a copy anyway, I'm sure PK could do with the money just now. Or buy a copy of Engage, his recent book about rugby player Matt Hampson, which is Sports Book of the Year.

I read David Millar's book and, if anything, it made me more hopeful that change for the better is happening and will continue to happen. But it's s not all rosy and squeaky clean; just look at the fiasco over Alberto's ludicrous "bad meat" defence or the UCI's current action against Kimmage. We're not out of the woods yet.

So either watch or don't watch; enjoy pro cycling as superficial entertainment or read more and get drawn in by a most complex of sports, which is surely some kind of mirror to hold up to life itself. It's entirely up to you.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2296 posts]
24th September 2012 - 22:50


As said in another thread about the Kimmage defence fund, it's snowballing - there are articles appearing everywhere, including Cycle Sport ( and the excellent Inner Ring blog:

Tyler Hamilton, who has tweeted that racing memorabilia will be auctioned in support of Kimmage's defence fund, is in the Guardian:

A VeloNation interview with Kimmage in August:

The bigger it gets the more untenable the UCI leadership looks. And if you want an insight into the state of mind of Hein Verbruggen look at this interview, published on Friday:
Caution: it's not flattering. He is either deranged or so badly backed into a corner and unable to think clearly.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2296 posts]
25th September 2012 - 11:10


Here's a direct link to the Defense Fund:

Best £10 I'll spend all year and I think probably the most effective as well.
It'll be heading past $30,000 shortly, fairly phenomenal for something only a few days old. Passionate folks these cyclists.

What's RoadCC's editorial stance on this I wonder?

_SiD_'s picture

posted by _SiD_ [180 posts]
25th September 2012 - 12:02


I tried to sign the petition but it's 'closed'!? Thinking Glad to say that I've contributed to the Paul Kimmage Defense fund.

posted by Bird On A Bike [8 posts]
25th September 2012 - 20:47