BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — Anti-doping expert Michael Ashenden sharply criticized Union Cycliste Internationale president Pat McQuaid this week, calling into question his leadership and noting the Irishman sought to “dodge” responsibility for the Lance Armstrong scandal.
Ashenden, who used to review biological passport tests for the UCI and has also questioned the depth of its passport testing, is widely regarded as one of the top anti-doping experts in the field. His comments are in response to an interview VeloNews conducted with McQuaid last Saturday, in which he sought to distance himself — and the UCI — from the deep controversy surrounding cycling. Ashenden quit the UCI’s biological passport panel in 2012, at odds with a confidentiality agreement.
Ashenden said the McQuaid and Armstrong scandals are now intertwined.
“He might surprise me in the future, but I don’t see how Pat McQuaid could become any more compromised. The [World Anti-Doping Agency] consider him to be deceitful, the [U.S. Anti-Doping Agency] have said he tried to stymie their investigation into Armstrong, yet McQuaid sees no reason why he should resign. Here is one very good reason: McQuaid flip-flops hopelessly on how to steer cycling forward,” Ashenden wrote in an e-mail to VeloNews. “One week he says cycling needs an independent commission, the next week he shuts it down. One day he opposes a truth and reconciliation process, the next day he wants to start one up. One moment he accuses WADA of running a vendetta, the next moment he asks them to cooperate with him.”
Ashenden also said that McQuaid was looking for a way out of responsibility for the Armstrong affair, but that he wouldn’t find one.
“McQuaid seeks to dodge responsibility for the Armstrong scandal, but he cannot. McQuaid has admitted that he pursued Armstrong and demanded a hundred thousand dollars from him even though [former UCI president Hein] Verbruggen has since acknowledged that the UCI realized that Armstrong had been using drugs. Not once it would seem, but on three separate occasions that have so far come to the surface (cortisone 1999, EPO 2001 Tour de Suisse, EPO 2002 Dauphiné). McQuaid’s refusal to step down after such a grimy act speaks equal volumes about his integrity and the UCI’s credibility,” he said.
A point of contention in Armstrong’s confession to Oprah Winfrey is his comeback in 2009 and 2010; the Texan maintains he rode those years on bread and water, but USADA says otherwise. Ashenden has also voiced concern over what he considered suspicious blood values.
McQuaid, though, said that Ashenden may have even reviewed Armstrong’s blood data from the comeback years, which never tested positive for tampering, McQuaid said.
Ashenden says that’s false.
“With regard to McQuaid’s slippery assertion that I had reviewed Armstrong’s blood profile, I lay London to a brick that I did not. If in fact I’m wrong, and I did review the profile, I hereby give the UCI full permission to publish whatever opinion that I gave on that profile. The ball is now in the UCI’s court on that one,” he wrote.
“And finally, just to pick up on two of the more glaring inconsistencies in McQuaid’s interview. First, it is not the independent experts who take the decision whether to open an anti-doping rule violation, it is the UCI Anti-Doping Commission,” he wrote. “Second, as anyone can establish for themselves by reading the minutes from the 2010 CADF meeting, a meeting that McQuaid presided over, it was in fact clearly for financial reasons that the UCI did less passport testing in the last half of that year.”