WADA criticises UCI for failure to investigate … and David Millar says Armstrong must not be forgotten
UCI criticised for failure to act over past doping offences, lessons must be learnt from Armstrong debacle says David Millar
John Fahey, president of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), has welcomed the UCI's decision announced yesterday to back the United States Anti Doping Agency's lifetime ban on Lance Armstrong and strip him of seven Tour de France victories. However Fahey was critical of the UCI's handling of the case particularly before the World Anti Doping Code came into existence in 2004.
David Millar, who served a two-year doping ban that expired in 2004 and now serves on WADA's athlete's panel, said that UCI president Pat McQuaid was wrong to hope that "Armstrong deserves to be forgotten from cycling," cautioning instead that the Texan's fate should be remembered as a lesson for the future, and also hit out at the governing body over its treatment of journalist Paul Kimmage.
Fahey pointed out that WADA has 21 days from 31 October in which to decide whether to appeal the decision, although given the support it has expressed for USADA's stance that is highly unlikely to happen. But it does appear that part of the fallout from the Armstrong affair will be a battle between USADA and WADA not only over what happened in this case, but also between the two bodies' respective approaches to combating doping.
Potentially, that gives rise to the kind of turf war seen in previous years between the UCI and the French anti-doping agency the AFLD, which resulted in Tour de France organisers ASO excluding the UCI from involvement in the doping control process at the 2008 edition of the race.
The UCI was back working on the Tour in 2009, but was criticised by then AFLD president Pierre Bordry who accused it, among other things, of giving favourable treatment to Armstrong and his then Astana team - an accusation McQuaid described as "pure bullshit."
During yesterday's press conference at Geneva airport where the UCI announced its decision. McQuaid made it clear that the UCI viewed the period from 1998 to 2005 as the one in which Armstrong doped, and in effect rejected USADA's finding that he had continued to do so after he returned to the sport in 2009.
In a statement published last night, Fahey said that WADA took heart from the UCI's opinion that the Armstrong case could be used as "a catalyst to thoroughly clean up its sport and remove any remaining vestiges of the doping programs that have clearly damaged cycling over the last decade."
He continued: "For some time now WADA has made it clear that testing and analysis alone is not sufficient to expose the doping of athletes who have the support of sophisticated and unscrupulous individuals. The evidence gathered by USADA in the Armstrong case is proof of that, as it is almost entirely based on non-analytical data.
"It has always been incumbent on anti-doping organizations to undertake a more coherent approach to widespread allegations of doping, and it is not sufficient to claim that enough was done just because testing did not lead to analytical violations."
In its full decision on the Armstrong case published yesterday, the UCI, grudgingly accepted USADA's jurisdiction, which it had previously opposed, expressed concerns over the use of witness testimony, rejected evidence that it had helped the cyclist cover up a "suspect" test and said that if it had been handling the case it would have done so within the WADC's eight-year statute of limitations.
That might have resulted in only the 2004 and 2005 seasons coming under scrutiny, potentially allowing Armstrong to keep the five Tour de France titles he had won in previous years. and Fahey also struck out at the way the UCI had conducted itself in those early years of his reign in yellow.
"The fact the World Anti-Doping Code only came into force in 2004 is not a valid excuse for an organization failing to act on evidence of widespread doping, and nor is the Statute of Limitations contained within the Code an excuse not to investigate evidence of doping that dates back longer than eight years," he said.
Fahey concluded by saying that WADA "will continue to examine the evidence encouraged by the fact that the biggest doping scandal in the history of sport is close to reaching a correct conclusion."
Meaanwhile Millar, writing for telegraph.co.uk, said that McQuaid's insistence that Armstrong should be "forgotten from cycling" as a result of the scandal "would be an absolute disaster."
The Garmin-Sharp rider, banned for two years in 2004 after confessing to using EPO,
continued: "Armstrong, and what he and his doping era stood for, should be at the forefront of minds constantly as this sport moves forward, as I firmly believe it is doing.
"The majority of people involved in our sport have been involved in some kind of doping incident and there are massive lessons to learn from that, and not just for cycling. We must record what actually happened, and why.
"Young professionals making their way need to be alerted to the horrors of the sport at its worst when the doping culture took over and nearly consumed a generation.
Yes, eradicate Armstrong from the record books but we should never forget. It is the story of our recent past and should be retold time and time again."
Millar also urged to McQuaid to drop the defamation case that he, his predecessor as UCI president Hein Verbruggen, and the governing body itself have brought against the Irish journalist and former pro cyclist, Paul Kimmage.
Yesterday, McQuaid attempted to explain to an audience composed of members of the press that the pursuit of Kimmage had no relation to allegations the writer had previously made against the UCI that touched on aspects of the Armstrong case. No-one was convinced, and the impression many were left with is that the lawsuit has aan air of personal vendetta about it.
Millar expressed his disappointment "that McQuaid missed an open goal by not dropping his libel case against the journalist Paul Kimmage.
"In doing so, McQuaid is aligning himself with Verbruggen, they are standing together in this in a joint action against a man who had been trying to expose the doping culture.
"Just how bad does this look to the outside world questioning how cycling is dealing with doping?
"The president and honorary president of a big worldwide sporting body going to court at a time like this to, trying to protect their name in what everybody knows was a legitimate fight by the journalist involved to expose what actually happened."
A defence fund set up by fans to help Kimmage pay his legal costs in the action, due to go to court in Switzerland in December, now stands at more than $60,000.