WADA to cycling body: ‘Take blinkers off’

Says UCI won’t regain credibility unless officials who presided over drug-tainted Armstrong era are removed

Written by Agencies | Sydney | Published: October 24, 2012 1:26:21 am

World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey said on Tuesday that “everybody doped” in cycling during the Armstrong era and the sport’s administrators at the time should take some responsibility. Asking UCI to “take the blinkers off”,Fahey said those in charge at the time must bear some responsibility.

“There was a period of time in which the culture of cycling was that everybody doped. There is no doubt about that. The administrators have to take some responsibility for that,” the Australian told ABC radio. “Is that period gone? That’s something which I think the jury is out on and I think UCI are meeting this Friday to consider a number of aspects,including what their response must be,going forward.”

Pressed on whether he meant everyone — literally — in that era used drugs,Fahey replied: “The evidence that was given by those riders who are teammates of Lance Armstrong,one after the other,they said the same thing — that you could not compete unless you were doping.”

In all,26 people — including 11 former teammates — told USADA that Armstrong and his team used and trafficked in banned drugs.

Fahey said cycling would only regain credibility when the senior officials on watch during the “debacle” were removed. “Looking back,clearly the doping was widespread,” he said. “If that doping was widespread,then the question is legitimately put: ‘Who was stopping it? Who was working against it? Why wasn’t it stopped?’ I think it’s relevant to ask those questions.” Fahey added that anyone involved during the Armstrong years could not justify their place in the sport’s hierarchy at the UCI.

‘moral authority’

Meanwhile cycling’s top official said the sport can succeed despite the doubts of many. “By the decisions we have taken (Monday) it has given us the moral authority,” UCI President Pat McQuaid said after the UCI accepted the sanctions which stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and all other race results since August 1998. Skeptics still insist that the UCI protected Armstrong from scrutiny for many years,and was reluctantly forced to disown him by a devastating report published this month by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

“We really had no option but to make the decision we made,” McQuaid said. McQuaid’s denunciation that Armstrong “deserves to be forgotten in cycling” was surprisingly strong after the UCI had previously backed Armstrong’s failed legal fight to deny USADA jurisdiction in the case.

“We haven’t tried to find a way to defend an icon in our sport — we’ve accepted reality,” the UCI president said. “We’ve accepted the facts and the facts are there. I’m a pragmatic person and I believe no matter how bad the situation might be,you take the decision you have to take and move forward from there.”

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