UCI president Pat McQuaid has called for more support from the World Anti-Doping Agency following comments by WADA president John Fahey which placed doubt on cycling’s future at the Olympics.
WADA chief Fahey said Monday that cycling was among several sports, including weightlifting, that risked their Olympic futures if they continue to be plagued by doping.
McQuaid, speaking a day after it was announced that Spanish cyclist Maria Isobel Moreno had tested positive for EPO (erythropoietin), admitted that cycling has been left with an unwelcome legacy.
But the Irishman affirms the UCI is one of the international federations proactively fighting the cheats. And, he insists, the fact that more cheats are being caught proves the battle is being won.
In comparison, he said some other international governing bodies were still dragging their heels.
And McQuaid said he expected support, not criticism, from the chief of the world’s anti-doping agency.
“I admit that cycling does have a problem, and we have to deal with that,” McQuaid told AFP in Beijing. “We are catching cheats, but that’s mainly because we are looking for them.
“The UCI has been one of the leading international federations in the fight against doping, which is not the case of some bigger federations.
“We’ve been doing blood tests on the riders for years. In comparison FIFA (the international football federation) only began doing blood tests last year.”
Fahey was quoted as saying in the report: “I think weightlifting understands, as cycling understands, that there is a huge risk for both those sports if the cheating is continued and continued to be exposed.”
McQuaid believes that weeding out the dope cheats is a better option than catching none.
And, having launched an innovative ‘blood passport’ scheme which could be taken up by other sports, the UCI chief said he would expect more support from the WADA president.
“I will be hoping to talk with the WADA chief while I am here, and I’m sure we’ll have plenty to discuss,” McQuaid said. “But I would expect him to be more supportive.”
“The UCI is comparatively small compared to athletics and football but we are at the forefront (of the doping fight), we have pioneered the biological passport scheme which is costing five million euros to launch, and which is going forward.”
Asked whether he believes that cycling risks being ousted from the Olympics, the Irishman was unequivocal: “First of all it’s not the WADA chief’s decision whether we stay in the Olympics or not.
“And I don’t believe you should punish a sport because it is finding cheats.”
McQuaid claims that cycling, despite its image problem after years of major scandal and, more recently, some isolated cases, ultimately has the support of International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge.
“He (Rogge) has stated publicly in the past that he supports us,” said McQuaid.
“We have had nothing but support from the IOC – even from the IOC medical commission, who understand what we are trying to do.
“They know we are out there chasing them (cheats).”