McQuaid dismisses ‘populist’ challenge

UCI president Pat McQuaid has dismissed Greg LeMond’s challenge to his authority as “populist” and destined to fail.

McQuaid said the groundswell of support for an interim man to take over the head of the sport of cycling’s governing body hasn’t concerned him in the slightest.

Earlier this month, some of the world’s most outspoken critics of doping and how it has been policed, gathered in London for the ‘Change Cycling Now’ (CCN) conference and from it, came a suggestion that three-time Tour de France winner LeMond replace the Irishman until next September’s election.

But McQuaid said he hasn’t given the issue a second thought.

“No I haven’t even thought about it,” he said. “LeMond isn’t a politician. It’s a bit populist, what he’s at. I mean, I know Greg, I know him very well. He rode my Nissans as world champion and Tour de France winner. A guy like him is popular among a certain number of fans who follow elite cycling only and elite cycling is not the UCI. Elite cycling is only one part of the UCI, so he may know a little bit about cycling but he knows nothing about BMX, he knows nothing about Africa, I would contend to know a lot more. I can offer the UCI a lot more in terms of what it needs, not just elite cycling.”

As for the conference itself, which saw Irish journalists Paul Kimmage and David Walsh join 12 other speakers in discussing how the sport’s direction can be altered, McQuaid — who has served four two-year terms as head of the UCI to date, was equally dismissive.

“Look, any group of people, be it journalists or fans of cycling, can sit around a table and decide what they want to do. But to come and propose an interim president, talking about changing this and changing that because they say that’ll change cycling — that’s a little bit too idealistic and a little bit too opportunist. It doesn’t work like that. If they want to propose a president, there’s a system and a structure in place for that. The UCI is a democracy, I’m dealing with all the stakeholders. The UCI has taken very decisive action in the past six weeks since the Armstrong thing to deal with it, both in setting up the Independent Commission to look after the allegations against the UCI contained within the USADA report. And to hopefully, from my point of view, to show that the UCI wasn’t compliant in any doping or wasn’t hiding or covering up doping.”

He also admitted he was “tired” of cycling being “picked on” and said the sport is, in fact, doing more than any other sport to combat doping.

“I don’t think it. I know it is doing more. And what annoys me is why cycling is picked on all the time.

“You take the Balco affair for instance, Marion Jones, Dwain Chambers, Tim Montgomerie, Justin Gatlin. The same Jeff Novitzky (Investigator) caught them, they were sanctioned. Jones went to jail and there wasn’t a word said — no-one asked for Lamine Diack to step down from the IAAF, and nobody said the IAAF didn’t do enough in the fight against doping. It’s all quiet. Why is it, that in the Armstrong case, everybody is picking on cycling? I don’t think that’s fair.”

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