LeMond ready to challenge for UCI top job
LONDON (AFP) –
Former three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond said on Monday that he is prepared to challenge for the top job in world cycling as the sport battles to recover from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
Asked whether he was prepared to run for president of the International Cycling Union (UCI) against incumbent Pat McQuaid, who has faced numerous calls to quit, he told a news conference in London: “If necessary, yes.”
“I want to be part of the change process in cycling. But I’m not here to be president. I’m not a politician,” the 51-year-old added after a meeting of the Change Cycling Now pressure group.
LeMond, who won the Tour de France in 1986, 1989 and 1990, is now the only American rider to have won cycling’s most famous race after the UCI stripped Armstrong of his record seven Tour wins and career record to 1998 for doping.
He has since become the figurehead of the Change Cycling Now campaign, which calls for a more robust drive to root out drug cheats from the sport.
“If this sport is to change, it’s now or never,” he added. “What’s the UCI recommending at the moment? Nothing. (The UCI management) should resign. Any honourable person would have done that years ago.”
LeMond admitted that he might not be the best candidate to replace McQuaid, who has been under pressure to explain how Armstrong managed to avoid detection for so long, amid allegations that the UCI accepted cash to cover up a positive test.
But he said that he was prepared to lay the foundations for a more permanent successor to McQuaid, suggesting the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Dick Pound, would be an ideal candidate.
Change Cycling Now in particular wants to set up a truth and reconciliation commission along the lines of that created after the end of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, to shed full light on the extent of doping from riders themselves.
“It wouldn’t be about apportioning blame or punishment but to get the truth out in the open,” said Jaimie Fuller, an Australian businessman who runs the Skins sports brand that supplies a number of cycling teams with compression clothing.
The group recently received the support of a number of former professionals, including French riders Christophe Bassons and Eric Boyer but no currrent sportsmen have given their backing.
Change Cycling Now also proposes the creation of a commission of inquiry into the activities of the UCI, taking doping control out of its control and into the hands of an independent body to create a “cultural shift” in the sport.
The aim of the campaign was to “end suspicion” about race results, they added.
LeMond had long voiced doubts about Armstrong’s performances after he battled back from life-threatening cancer to win cycling’s most famous race a record seven times in succession.
He once said: “If Lance is clean, it is the greatest comeback in the history of sports. If he isn’t, it would be the greatest fraud.”
Now he has been proved correct, LeMond said he was “not in the slightest bit surprised” by the devastating revelations in the US Anti-Doping Agency report about doping on a grand scale that sealed his fate and a life ban from cycling.
But he added: “Now I would like to see Armstrong admit what he has done.”