The two Irish journalists who led the investigations that ultimately led to Lance Armstrong’s exposure as a drug cheat have reacted with scepticism to yesterday’s press conference by UCI president, Pat McQuaid.
Paul Kimmage and David Walsh both took to the airwaves to raise questions about some of McQuaid’s comments, particularly his statement expressing shock at revelations in the USADA investigation.
“When I listened to that press conference I had conflicting emotions” said Kimmage on Today Fm. “Absolute rage at the brass neck of McQuaid and his cohorts there. And also a huge sense of deflation and disappointment “because what was absolutely totally obvious… was the absolute certainty that whatever happens, Pat McQuaid is not responsible, that Hein Verbruggen, his predecessor, is not responsible. And that nothing that happens next Friday or the next five years is going to change that.
“The message Pat McQuaid is sending out is that it’s business as usual here. They want to do with Lance Armstrong as they’ve done with everybody who has ever spoken out against doping, or been convicted of doping, in the history of the sport. That is, get him under the carpet as quickly as possible and not address how this happened.
“What he said, which I found most interesting, was in trying to renege on the responsibility and the accountability he and his governing body share. He said ‘we didn’t have the tools to address this’.”
Kimmage read excerpts from his book Rough Ride, and Walsh’s two publications LA Confidential and From Lance to Landis, that included Kimmage’s own admission he had been forced to take drugs, as well as testimonies from many of the same people included in the USADA report.
“When Pat McQuaid talks about not having the tools, he’s being very disingenuous” was Kimmage’s withering summation.
Walsh was equally scathing.
“Pat McQuaid is giving the impression this report shocked him” said Walsh on RTÉ. “My question to Pat is, ‘how could it shock you?’ All the evidence has been out there for a long time. Floyd Landis sent his e-mails two years ago. Did Pat McQuaid ring up Floyd Landis and say ‘Floyd what you’re saying is unbelievable. I need to speak to you. I need you to give me details’.
“If I went back four years before that, in 2006, Frankie Andreu, a former US Postal rider, did an interview with the New York Times where he said ‘I doped to help Lance Armstrong win his first Tour de France in 1999’.
“Pat McQuaid was president of UCI at that time. Did he ring up Frankie Andreu and say ‘Frankie, you doped to help Lance. Was there much doping in the team? Could we speak? Will you tell me more?’
“Frankie Andreu would have told him everything. But the point is Pat McQuaid didn’t want to know.
“He said he wasn’t impressed and he was thinking of going back and trying to get the prize money that Frankie Andreu won in the 1999 Tour de France. McQuaid wanted to penalise him for telling the truth. The UCI has never wanted this report. They have never wanted the honesty that has led to it. They are embarrassed by it now and basically they have thrown Armstrong under the bus. But they haven’t done it for the right reasons. They have done it to protect themselves.”
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