The UCI has published private correspondence between its president Pat McQuaid and John Fahey and David Howman, respectively president and secretary general of the World Anti Doping Agency, in an attempt to set the record straight over what was said between the two organisations in recent days.
The exchange reveals the acrimony between the two men heading up the bodies that will have most influence in how the sport moves on from the damaging revelations in recent weeks – on the one hand, the president of the governing body, on the other, the man who presides over the global agency tasked with fighting the menace of doping.
Much of the argument centres over who should pay for a Truth & Reconciliation Process, and according to WADA, the bill rests with the UCI, with Howman confirming that he had told McQuaid in a telephone conversation: “I suggested you might have to consider raising money by way of mortgage on the extensive property in Aigle with some Swiss Bank if necessary,” – a suggestion McQuaid describes as “somewhat facetious and unhelpful.”
The unusual move followed Fahey’s condemnation of the UCI earlier today as “arrogant” and “deceitful” regarding its decision, announced last night, to disband the Independent Commission it had set up to examine its role in the Lance Armstrong scandal, and to move ahead with formulating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in partnership with WADA – something the agency says isn’t true.
The United States Anti Doping Agency has also been highly critical of the UCI, and the Independent Commission has also issued a statement responding to yesterday’s events in which it questions the ability of the UCI and WADA to work alongside each other.
The correspondence released by the UCI this evening is as follows (with links to the documents on the UCI website):
1. An email from Howman to McQuaid dated Tuesday 23 January 2013 (three days before the Independent Commission’s public hearing last Friday).
2. An email from McQuaid to Fahey (c/o Howman) dated Monday 28 January 2013 in reply to an email from Fahey dated Saturday 26 January 2013.
As far as the tones of the correspondence is concerned, it has to be said that McQuaid’s comes across as more conciliatory than Howman’s, although that does in some ways reflect their natural styles.
It perhaps also reflects the fact however that the UCI is seen by WADA to have done too little too late and that the time has passed in which they could have been reconciled to each other’s respective positions. McQuaid is therefore trying his best to build bridges; Fahey, exasperated, is rejecting the approach.
It’s also clear, however, that they both have a very different take on what was said between them, and short of a transcript of the conversation between them suddenly materialising, it’s impossible to determine exactly where the truth lies.
The ball is now back in WADA’s court to respond to the UCI. It’s likely to take exception not only to the governing body’s wildly differing version of events, but also the fact that it has gone public with what was presumably intended to be a private exchange without apparently receiving prior permission.
There seems little prospect yet of a rapprochement between the parties.
In a press release commenting on WADA’s response earlier today and the UCI’s own decision to put the correspondence in the public domain, McQuaid said:
“I am very saddened that it has come to this, but I cannot allow the latest blatant and aggressive misrepresentations contained in WADA’s most recent press release to go unchallenged.
“Mr Fahey is saying one thing in public and quite the opposite in correspondence with me, as the attached communications show.
“The UCI reached out to WADA in a spirit of partnership. This is about doing what is right for cycling. This is not the time for showmanship, or political point scoring.
“The UCI is perplexed that WADA has now chosen to rebuff and attack the UCI’s willingness to establish a TRC, having just demanded that the UCI establish exactly such a commission.
“We have now reached this sorry juncture because WADA publicly questioned the independence of the Independent Commission, criticised its terms of reference as being too Armstrong-centric (despite that being the whole basis for its establishment), repeatedly called for a broader inquiry into doping in the peloton, and over this past weekend stated unequivocally, both orally and in writing, that it had no faith in the Commission which it referred to as ‘the so-called Independent Commission’ and which it asserted was ‘too compromised’ to continue in office.
“Mr Fahey stated clearly in his letter to me that he believed ‘the process should start over from a new beginning’, regardless of the cost consequences for the UCI.
“Astonishingly, now that the UCI has once again tried to work with WADA by establishing the very body that it has been loudly calling for, it is disappointing, to say the least, to see Mr Fahey expressing support for the Commission that he had just condemned as having ‘no credibility’.
“In my letter to Mr Fahey, the UCI reached out to WADA in a spirit of partnership and cooperation. It is time to put personalities aside and work together for the future of cycling and sport more generally.
“In his letter to me, Mr Fahey’s recollections of our telephone conversation differs in a great many important respects from my own. As just one example, shown in the emails we have been forced to release today: Mr Fahey knew very well that I would call him, but not (as he claims) because he had been informed by the media, rather because we had arranged the call several days earlier in an email exchange with his Director General David Howman, with him in copy.
“The UCI is determined not to dwell on WADA’s inconsistent behaviour. We wish to reaffirm our commitment to establishing the TRC, and hope and expect WADA, NADOs, National Federations, Tour Organisers and professional teams to engage in that process for the benefit of the sport.
“I would therefore urge the President of WADA one more time to try to set his personal vendetta and crusade against cycling aside and to support the UCI in doing what is right for cycling. Our aims are the same: to rid cycling and indeed all sports of the scourge of doping.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.