THE PRESIDENT of cycling’s world governing body the UCI, Pat McQuaid, has rejected calls to resign over the Lance Armstrong scandal and vehemently denied suggestions that a six-figure payment made by the disgraced rider to the UCI constituted hush money.
McQuaid confirmed yesterday that the UCI would ratify the US Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) demand that Armstrong be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life following the most serious doping allegations in the sport’s history.
Questions have been raised over Armstrong’s donations of $100,000 (£62,000) in 2002, which came shortly after the UCI had summoned the American to explain a suspect sample collected during the 2001 Tour of Switzerland.
But McQuaid said: “It’s certainly not a resignation issue. It would be better if we hadn’t done it, and if we were to do it in the future, we would do it in a different way.
“There is no connection between the donation given to the UCI and a test being covered up because there was no test covered up. Don’t try to make the connection between the suspicious test and the donation. There were no positive tests from him.”
McQuaid, who took over the presidency in 2005, the year of Armstrong’s last Tour title, acknowledged cycling was in the midst of the “biggest crisis” of its chequered history but insisted he would remain in place to help it “begin anew”.
“Cycling has come a long way,” he added. “I have no intention of resigning as president of the UCI.
“What I will say is I’m sorry we couldn’t catch every damn one of them red-handed and throw them out of the sport.”
On another chastening day for Armstrong, who denies doping but is not contesting USADA’s claims, American insurance company SCA Promotions demanded the repayment of $7.5m (£4.7m) in bonuses, interest and fees while sunglasses maker Oakley became the last of his sponsors to dump the Texan.
British cyclist David Millar, a reformed doper who now sits on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s athletes’ commission, called on the UCI to take greater blame for presiding over a tainted era.
“They denied there was a problem and even now they are denying they had knowledge of it,” said Millar.
“The buck has to stop somewhere and I think the UCI have to assume that responsibility.”