The two-day Change Cycling Now summit got under way in Central London yesterday, with three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond calling for responsibility for overseeing the policing of doping within the sport to be taken away from the UCI. The conference concludes today, with the 14 delegates expected to announce an action plan of their vision for cycling’s future this afternoon.
"Myself and Eric Boyer called for independent doping back in 2008," stated LeMond to his fellow attendees, who included the French former rider, who went on to manage Cofidis until June this year.
"The Amaury Sports Organisation [ASO, owner of the Tour de France] were all for it, but unfortunately, the UCI was not,” added LeMond, quoted on the website Inside The Games.
"There has to be transparency provided by a third party, no question,” he continued. "The UCI should be focused on promoting the sport, not unilaterally policing it.
"Doping, its operation and its sanctions should be the responsibility of a body that is clearly outside of UCI jurisdiction and there has to be a system that looks much more closely at the source of doping and supply rather than just on those who dope.
"At the moment, there is no incentive for riders to confess and reveal what's going on because it's only them who're being punished."
Attendees at the summit, originally the idea of Jaimie Fuller, chairman of compression clothing business Skins, include Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters, blood doping expert Michael Ashenden, former rider Jorg Jaksche, journalists David Walsh and Paul Kimmage, Andy Layhe of the anti-doping campaign group, Bike Pure, and two members of the Cycling Fans’ Voice group set up to lobby for fans to have a say in how the sport is run.
Gianni Bugno, president of the pro riders’ association, the CPA, is due to attend today and address the meeting, as is the US Anti-Doping Agency's CEO, Travis Tygart.
Ashenden, who pioneered the UCI’s biological passport programme but left earlier this year due to a dispute over new contractual terms it was seeking to impose on him, was first to speak.
He set forth the issues the sport currently faces and made the point that the problems confronting cycling go well beyond the US Postal scandal, in contrast to some – notably the UCI itself – who insist that it reflects the actions of a past generation of riders and that the war against the cheats is being won.
"This is not just about Lance Armstrong," insisted Ashenden. "This is about the whole issue of doping within cycling and the negative impact the UCI's approach has had on its credibility."
Boyer, who has in the past been critical in the French press of Vaughters, who succeeded him in 2009 as president of the professional teams association, the AIGCP, said that their past differences were behind them.
"It is true that in the past we have had our differences, but we now realise we share a common goal in making a better future for cycling and everything is fine," he explained.
"We have spoken about the past during the day and are now committed to helping Change Cycling Now force change for the benefit of everyone in the sport.
"We have worked together through the day to accomplish our mutual aims and I look forward to doing so again in the future."
In a statement released after the conclusion of yesterday’s opening session, Andy Layhe, co-founder of Bike Pure, said:
We (Bike Pure) feel strongly about the issues raised at today's first sit down meeting. It was a highly constructive day and evident from the offset that the energy and passion for urgent transformation of the way in which the sport is governed was going to be the catalyst for the day's agenda. Off the back of the Lance Armstrong scandal, the sport sits in a precarious position, where the desire for a new way forward has to be grasped urgently. Someone has to take responsibility at the top of the chain for what has happened in recent weeks, the UCI have ignored fundamental issues and must be held accountable for the damage that has been incurred. If this were a government scandal or failings at the top of a multi national company, people would have been fired, lost their jobs for the complete mishandling of the situation.
Cycling has seen numerous fresh starts, new beginnings and strong vocal support for change but being present in today's meeting it's clear that this present group of individuals have an awful lot to offer in regards substantial and long lasting change for the better of the sport. The desire and feeling emanating from the meeting room today was more than satisfying to see and this will be evident in the proposals put forward during Monday afternoon's press conference.
We have a fundamental opportunity, and all those associated with the sport can do their part. Once proposals are published, we urge cycling fans to get behind the proposals for change and do their own part in shaping a sport that they can be proud of, which will hopefully produce productive leadership and change.