Bugno: Manifesto offers talking points, but no one is talking

Gianni Bugno, leader of the riders' association, says dialogue with his group is a necessary part of moving on from the Armstrong Affair

MILAN (VN) — In a week of independent commission calls and a manifesto from major European newspapers, the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) is concerned at the lack of talks.

“Let’s come together and talk about it. (The manifesto’s ideas) are all talking points. This is a good starting point and we can work from there,” CPA president Gianni Bugno told VeloNews. “One might say they are strange ideas, but let’s talk about them — let’s talk. The more we talk about it, the more chances we have to come up with a solution.”

In the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, the UCI on Friday announced that it would enlist an independent commission to review the federation’s treatment of doping over the last two decades. The next day, five European newspapers went further, outlining a roadmap for the sport that included a vote of no confidence in current UCI management. The Times of London, L’Equipe, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Het Nieuwsblad and Le Soir on Saturday printed their concerns for cycling, placing the blame on everyone, including themselves, and offered eight objectives.

But Bugno, the head of the riders’ association, said that an open dialogue was missing from the sport’s attempt to move forward since the UCI enforced the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s lifetime ban of Armstrong and stripped him of all results since August 1, 1998.

“We need to come together and look over the important steps,” Bugno said after looking over the manifesto in La Gazzetta.

The manifesto called on the UCI to make several key changes. The federation already moved on creating a commission to investigate corruption, but, according to the manifesto, it needs to re-examine how it awards team licenses and pass its doping controls to third parties.

“The biological passport is nothing to laugh at. The UCI has put together an important control over the last three to four years,” Bugno said. “They are doing a lot more controls and going down the correct path. They see the problem and they are facing it.”

The manifesto also called for stricter penalties for doping. It said teams should not employ riders for two years if they have served a ban greater than six months.

“It seems to be a little overboard to do that,” Bugno said. “A lot of riders understand the problem, and they are racing ahead without any problems.”

Bugno raced through the 1990s when EPO started to become widely abused and Armstrong made his pro debut in Europe. He won the Giro d’Italia, Milan-San Remo, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, four stages in the Tour de France and twice the world championships before retiring in 1998. He tested positive for elevated caffeine levels in 1994, denied using caffeine other than coffee, and served a reduced ban as a result.

“(The UCI) are taking on Armstrong now, but there wasn’t even the bio passport eight years ago,” Bugno said. “I respect Armstrong. He’s paid, but he’s going to remain what he was before, a highly regarded cyclist… What happened, happened.”

Above all, Bugno urged all parties to talk in light of the Armstrong doping case, calls for an independent commission and the publishing of the manifesto.

“We need to all get together: riders, DSs, team managers, UCI, organisers,” he said. “We need to meet and take on this problem together.”

However, at this point, Bugno said the UCI has yet to respond to his letter, dated Friday October 26, backing the AIGCP’s review request.