Many demands made from press in relation to Armstrong/USPS affair

Armstrong LandisThe UCI will have hoped that yesterday’s announcement that it will allow an independent commission examine its role in the Lance Armstrong/US Postal Service affair plus general anti-doping structure would have enabled the dust to settle at least temporarily on the issue, but media pressure looks set to keep a drive on for further reforms.

Major European newspapers De Telegraaf (Netherlands), Le Soir and Het Nieuwsblad (Belgium), The Times (UK), La Gazzetta dell Sport (Italy) and L’Equipe (France) today each published what they titled a ‘manifesto for a credible cycling.’ In it, they stated that they love the sport, strongly believe in its future, but are very concerned about the current situation.

They feel the UCI has a strong responsibility in what has befallen the sport, even though the governing body has repeatedly denied any fault.

“To the long blacklist of doping scandals that has clouded the horizon of cycling in recent years must be added the Armstrong case, the confessions of several of his former teammates, the report of the American Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which points to a malfunction or complicity of the International Cycling Union (UCI). Disturbing reports have filtered in from the Padua investigation, and the Puerto trial in Madrid opens in January,” they stated.

“The recent revelations show clearly that we can not put our faith in the UCI or any team managers complicit in the deception. But the failures lie with all the families that make up cycling.”

While acknowledging that things appear to have improved recently, the statement argues that it is impossible to continue with the current structures, rules and people.

Because of that, it recommends a series of measures and reforms. These are:

– That the UCI recognizes its responsibilities in the Armstrong case and apologizes.

– The formation, under the responsibility of the Agency (WADA), of a neutral and independent commission to investigate the role and responsibility of the UCI in the Armstrong case and the fight against doping in general, and to report errors, abuses and possible complicity.

– That the organization of controls at the biggest races is the direct responsibility of WADA and anti-doping agencies.

– That the suspension penalties applicable in doping cases are more severe and sports groups pledge not to sign for two additional years any athletes suspended for more than six months.

– The restoration of the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ which provides that a rider who is under investigation for doping is automatically suspended by his team.

– A stronger involvement and accountability of the title sponsors who fund teams.

– Reform of the World Tour, its points system and licensing, which remains closed and opaque. We also propose that the licenses are no longer issued to the managers, but the sponsors.

– The organisation of a major ‘cycling summit’ before the start of the 2013 season in order to define the new structure and new rules.

The manifesto concludes by saying that the newspapers hope that the opportunity of a ‘fundamental reform’ is seized at this point.

Aside from being powerful newspapers, some have an additional involvement in the sport. These include L’Equipe and La Gazzetta dello Sport, who are very closely linked to the organisers of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia respectively.

Because of that, they have greater clout than being media entities alone. As a result, pressure remains on the UCI at what could be a time of great transformation in cycling.


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