Legendary Italian framebuilder Ernesto Colnago has warned that cycling is “destroying” itself in the fallout from the Lance Armstrong affair and is calling for a life ban for riders caught using performance enhancing substances.
Meanwhile Fausto Pinarello, who runs his family business which supplies frames to Team Sky and Movistar has stopped short of calling for such extreme measures, but has said that the battle against doping must start at youth level, including the coaches and parents of young riders.
Both were speaking to Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, which yesterday joined British newspaper The Times, French title L’Equipe and the Belgian titles Le Soir and Het Nieuwsblad in launching a ‘Manifesto for cleaner cycling.’
“We can’t go on like this, we’re destroying ourselves,” insisted the 80-year-old Colnago, who launched his framebuilding business in 1952 after his own racing career was cut short, and would go on to make the bikes that the likes of Fiorenzo Magni and most famously Eddy Merckx would ride to victory in cycling’s biggest races.
“We’re all pointed out as dopers, a disgrace,” he continued. “We need a complete about-turn, we must find intelligent people who love cycling and who can guide us.
“I believe that the starting point could be a life ban at the first positive test, without any discounts, without looking anyone in the face. Gentlemen, enough: who commits wrong, pays.”
Pinarello, who heads the family business founded by his father Giovanni in the late 1940s, commented: “The Manifesto could be a good idea, but I ask myself, ‘No-one knew anything before?’
“The public and TV want spectacular races, the sponsors want victories. Many of those who direct the riders have had problems with doping and the current system of points for the awarding of licences is wrong.
“We must take a look at ourselves and be clear, then work on the future, on young riders and on who puts them in the saddle: coaches and parents. It’s cycling’s fortune that people love the bicycle.”
The eight-point Manifesto launched by the five newspapers yesterday calls for:
• The creation of an independent and neutral commission, under the responsibility of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), to investigate the role of the UCI in the Armstrong affair and to report on any mistakes, abuses of power or complicity by the governing body.
• Drug testing structures on all professional cycling events should, from now on, be instigated by Wada and administered by the national anti-doping agencies.
• Penalties for doping offences should become more severe; professional teams should not employ riders suspended for more than six months for a supplementary period of two years.
• The universal acceptance among all teams that a rider implicated by a formal doping investigation is automatically withdrawn from competition, pending the outcome of that investigation.
• The clear understanding of shared responsibility among all sponsors for the ethical health of cycling and for the credibility of the teams that carry their name.
• The reform of the World Tour of leading races, of its systems of points and the awarding of team licences, which encourages a closed shop, lacking in transparency and accountability; we propose that team licences are awarded to sponsors and not to team managers.
• The publication by the UCI of an annual report clarifying, in a transparent manner, all its activities and progress achieved each season.
• The undertaking that all of the above will be in place before the start of the 2013 season in order to establish a new and more credible structure and new governance and regulations.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.