UCI must look at themselves

By Roger Vaughan,

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    First, the good news – the UCI got it right. Or, as their growing number of critics would argue, they didn’t stuff it up.

    The only correct response for cycling’s world governing body was to endorse the US Anti-Doping Agency case against Lance Armstrong.

    Thanks to overwhelming evidence, he has lost his record seven Tour de France titles and is banned for life.

    What’s worrying is that in the immediate aftermath of the UCI announcement, they appear highly reluctant to turn the spotlight on their role in this saga.

    More will become clear once the UCI meet again on Friday.

    But the strong message coming so far from president Pat McQuaid and his Australian cohort Mike Turtur can be summed up as “we draw a line in the sand and look forward”.

    No-one doubts the UCI have been much more vigilant about their anti-doping measures since 2006.

    But if they are not careful, they are probably another six years away from being right back where they were in the early 2000s.

    There are too many questions arising from the Armstrong era – was he tipped off about tests? Were positive tests covered up? What the hell was the UCI doing when it accepted donations from him?

    Amazingly, McQuaid has not ruled out accepting donations from riders in the future, albeit in a different way.

    It was not his finest moment in a media conference where for the most part, McQuaid was impressive.

    What’s the saying? Those who fail to heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

    History bears that truism out, time and again.

    The Armstrong scandal also bears out what track and field’s Marion Jones case strongly suggested – that never testing positive means nothing.

    Armstrong has always trumpeted that he never failed a test.

    But only the truly unlucky or the very dumb usually test positive in top-level sport.

    USADA’s evidence against Armstrong emphasises that if an athlete has good medical advice, it is not hard for the fox to stay one step ahead of the hounds.

    It is very rare that anti-doping officials devise a test that puts them ahead of the cheats.

    Once they do, word gets around and the window slams shut pretty quickly.

    It’s thorough investigating and confessions, not positive tests, that will bring down the dopers.

    And those in charge must be above reproach.

    © AAP 2018

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