MONTREAL (AFP) — This weekend’s meeting between the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Montreal will have a chilly atmosphere in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal, which had already revived tensions between the two sporting bodies in the weeks and months prior to their upcoming meeting.
The relationship between WADA and the UCI has often been stormy, particularly in 2008 when honorary UCI president Hein Verbruggen, who was head of they latter from 1991 to 2005, filed suit against then-WADA head Dick Pound for his comments about the ineffectiveness of the UCI’s anti-doping efforts.
That suit was settled in 2009, and the tones had softened in recent years to the point of seeing WADA highlight efforts by the UCI to clean up the sport.
The current president of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, who oversaw the introduction of the first-ever biological passport in professional sports, will meet with WADA’s Executive Committee and Board of Trustees in a closed-door session Saturday and Sunday.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency implicated the UCI in the U.S. Postal Service scandal when it wrote in its “Reasoned Decision” that Armstrong was able to take drugs such as EPO and corticosteroids throughout his career, all while passing doping controls, due to complacency and complicity by the UCI.
McQuaid has argued that the UCI never covered up or facilitated Armstrong’s use of performance enhancing drugs, citing the scientific limitations of drug testing in past years as a reason for the Texan’s ability to evade detection.
Several former riders, including American three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond, have called for the resignation of McQuaid, who arrived as president of the UCI a few months after Armstrong’s seventh Tour victory, and his predecessor Verbruggen, who still sits on the steering committee of the UCI.
WADA has fired its own diplomatic arrows at the two men.
“It was a period during which the cycling culture was that all the world is [doped]. There is no doubt about it. Leaders must take a part of their responsibility for it,” said current WADA president, Australian John Fahey, who did not address the work of WADA during the Armstrong years; the organization did not play a role in the American’s downfall this year, although it did not appeal the UCI’s November 2 ban of Armstrong.
Pound, Fahey’s still-vocal and still-influential predecessor, pointed out that the UCI was “not credible” when it said it was unaware of Armstrong’s doping. WADA director general David Howman has said that he is awaiting the findings of the UCI’s independent commission.
McQuaid has promised that the independent commission would assess the role of the UCI in the Armstrong Affair. But in forming this commission, the UCI did not select anybody affiliated with WADA, preferring instead to take advice from the president of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Australian John Coates.