Home
“It was done with the best interests"...

One of the biggest sticks being used to beat serving UCI president Pat McQuaid was that the UCI accepted a large donation from Lance Armstrong in 2002. McQuaid has previously said that accepting that donation was a mistake, and yesterday repeated that sentiment.

“On reflection, it would have been better had we not taken that money,” McQuaid, told BBC Radio 5 live.

McQuaid is seeking re-election as UCI president, and is opposed by British Cycling president Brian Cookson.

Lance Armstrong was banned from sport for life last year after the United States Anti-Doping Agency found he had been involved in “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.” He subsequently confessed, and has since claimed that it was impossible to win the Tour without doping.

The Armstrong donation was used to buy a Sysmex blood analysis machine, and McQuaid says there was no question of any ulterior motive at the time in the donation or its acceptance.

“When we took it, we announced publicly, with a press statement, that the money was being given and what the money was being used for.

“It was done with the best interests, not in any underhand way.”

McQuaid said in 2010 that Bruyneel and Armstrong visited the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, in May 2002. Armstrong signed over a personal cheque for $25,000 to go toward drugs testing in junior races, and he also promised to donate $100,000 to it to help develop the sport.

He finally paid that money in 2005, after the UCI sent him a reminder, and that was the money the UCI used to buy the Sysmex machine. By that time, accusations had started to mount against Armstrong.

In his election manifesto, McQuaid makes the point that the UCI’s spending on anti-doping has increased on his watch. But when the organisation catches dopers, it gets no credit.

“When we catch cheats, it’s used in a sense as a stick to beat the back of the UCI and I think that’s a little bit unfair,” he said.

“We spend in the region of seven million Swiss Francs (£4.87m) a year to catch cheats.

“You don’t spend that sort of money and fail. You don’t spend that sort of money and not want to catch cheats.”

McQuaid said in 2010 that Bruyneel and Armstrong visited the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, in May 2002. Armstrong signed over a personal cheque for $25,000 to go toward drugs testing in junior races, and he also promised to donate $100,000 to it to help develop the sport.

He finally paid that money in 2005, after the UCI sent him a reminder, and that was the money the UCI used to buy the Sysmex machine. By that time, accusations had started to mount against Armstrong.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.