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Exclusive interview with UCI president Pat McQuaid, part 1

VN: So you question what USADA CEO Travis Tygart says about Armstrong doping in 2009 and 2010?
PM: I do. I do question what he says, yes. Absolutely. If that was the case, why was it not part of the USADA “Reasoned Decision?” Why was it not in there?

VN: It was in the “Reasoned Decision.”
PM: Maybe it was. Maybe you’re right. But we question that, because, and it was reported to the Management Committee, [Rossi] explained the number of tests he’d had done, and the values. It’s easy to look at one sample and say, “that sample looks suspicious,” or, “that sample indicates blood doping,” but that’s not enough to open up an anti-doping proceeding against an athlete. In the passport, you need to show within the whole range that that one sample is [7min] it. To say it may be evidence [of doping], you may think, all right, but unless you have something to open up a proceeding, you can’t open up a proceeding.

VN: Do you believe Armstrong when he says he was clean during 2009 and 2010?
PM: I can’t say that I believe him or that I don’t believe him. We weren’t able to prove otherwise — so then you have to accept that he was clean during those years. Do you believe anyone when they say anything? That’s part of the difficulty of cycling today. Is anybody believed? It’s unfortunate, but that’s the situation that we’re in. But unless we can prove that an athlete is guilty of something, we have to accept that he’s not.

VN: Last week you engaged in a very public dispute with WADA president John Fahey, and over the past six months you’ve had a very public dispute with USADA CEO Travis Tygart. The perception is that the UCI is obstructing anti-doping agencies.
PM: No, the UCI is not obstructing anti-doping agencies. The UCI has a very good relationship with many anti-doping agencies, and we’ve signed contracts and agreements with many anti-doping agencies, and we’ve worked closely with many anti-doping agencies. In relation to USADA, all we did was ask some questions in relation to the procedure, early on, in relation to the USADA process, which we were entitled to do. After that, we then, as you know, confirmed the USADA “Reasoned Decision” and confirmed the lifetime sanction of Lance Armstrong. We don’t have a problem… people differ on how to do things, and how to approach things. We didn’t make it out to be a public spat. They did.

In relation to WADA last week, yes, the UCI was put into the position — regretfully, and I didn’t like to do it — where we had to publish correspondence which showed that the public position of WADA was different than the private position of WADA. Having said that, the UCI wants to work with WADA, WADA knows that, and I’ve said that to John Fahey. We want to work closely with WADA on a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to set it up and see where it goes. From the meeting on Friday, we’ve set up two members of the Management Committee [UCI vice president Artur Lopes of Portugal and former French federation president Daniel Baal] to meet with WADA and see how we can progress this.

We’re prepared to work with WADA. It’s not a question of politics, or personalities, or anything like that. I think it’s also fair to say that on the ground, operationally, the UCI works very closely with WADA. Our legal people work closely with WADA’s legal people. Francesca Rossi, of the UCI’s anti-doping department, likewise works very closely with WADA, and she’s on one of the committees. It’s a good relationship. You got the off political spat, but that doesn’t affect the working relationship.

VN: The way the dissolution of the UCI Independent Commission [UCIIC] played out over a series of days was difficult to follow. It seemed as though the commission said it was unable to get the documentation it needed from the UCI, therefore they couldn’t do their job, so then the UCI said it was going to disband the commission — the commission it had appointed to investigate UCI wrongdoing — because it couldn’t do its job.
PM: A few of your understandings there are incorrect. First of all, we had produced 16 lever-arched files of documentation to go to the commission; they were with our solicitor in London. But it was only because of the discussions that were going on between the Independent Commission and WADA, and the way that things were looking, we could see that we were being forced into running two commissions, the Independent Commission and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission — or expanding the Independent Commission to embrace Truth and Reconciliation and not know where the end is.

The reason we had given the Independent Commission… we told them they would be completely independent… well, they told us, “we will be a completely independent commission,” we wanted one, and when I first met with [Former Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Otton] they said, “We [UCIIC] will decide the Terms of Reference, we will produce a report, and that report will go public.”

They set up all the boundaries for it. And we told them we wanted the report back by June. The reason we wanted that report back by June is to have certain control on the scope and the amount of work… not so much the amount of work they put in, but… not to allow them, to say, when the process is finished, you do a report… otherwise, it would have cost… it would have given them the possibility to run and run and run and run. And we were paying for it. So it was for budget reasons that we said, “can you do it in six months?” and Sir Philip Otton said to me, “yes, we can do it in six months.”

We got cooperation from everybody, and we get all the information before March, in April we’ll have our hearings, and in June we’ll have our report. But then we started having difficulties with WADA and USADA, and we could see that we had a lot of information from our side to give them, but they weren’t getting any information from anybody else. Athletes seemingly weren’t coming forward, no witnesses were coming forward to them. They then, as a result of discussions with WADA, the Independent Commission recommended, I think they put it in a press release, they said what is really needed is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which meant we had to put the Independent Commission out of commission and set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is what we’re discussing with WADA.

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