UCI president Pat McQuaid on Tuesday strongly denied allegations leveled by ex-pro Floyd Landis that cycling’s governing body accepted a bribe and covered up a positive test by Lance Armstrong during the 2001 Tour de Suisse.
McQuaid cited documents from labs in Switzerland and France as well as from the Tour de Suisse that he said prove the UCI could not have orchestrated a cover-up.
“All this information supports that there’s no way that the UCI or my predecessor, Hein Verbruggen, could have accepted a bribe to bury a positive control — it’s just not possible,” McQuaid said. “We will not protect anybody if we have evidence that they were cheating.”
Among Landis’ most explosive accusations was that Armstrong bribed the UCI to cover up what he said was a doping positive for EPO during the 2001 Tour de Suisse.
McQuaid said that the UCI takes the claims seriously, but said it would be impossible to cover up a doping positive because the anti-doping controls were conducted by independently-managed laboratories in Switzerland and France.
McQuaid said positive doping results are simultaneously shared with officials not only from UCI, but also with the French and Swiss cycling federations as well as the International Olympic Committee and, later, the World Anti-Doping Agency.
McQuaid did confirm that Armstrong pledged to give the UCI $100,000 in 2002 (though the money was not received until 2005) and that the UCI used the money to buy a Sysmex machine, which is used to test blood.
“Lance and Johan (Bruyneel) were visiting the UCI headquarters in 2002 just after it opened. They got a guided tour of what we’re doing there, so in that context, Lance offered $100,000 to help in the aid and development of cycling. The UCI decided to use that money to buy a Sysmex machine, which we purchased some time afterward,” he said. “I don’t believe there is a conflict of interest. The machine still in use today and we test riders before the grand tours. If there is money left over, it is still in the UCI account.”
He also said that the UCI has directed the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to open an inquiry into the Landis allegations. But he quickly added that he has serious questions about Landis’ credibility.
“The authorities, the UCI, USADA and WADA, spent a lot of money, well over $1 million in prosecuting Landis, and he spent an equal amount in declaring a lie for four years,” he said. “To have him now come out to say he was guilty is really incredible.”
Here are the other highlights of the McQuaid press conference: