The war of words between UCI president Patrick “hot air” McQuaid and the Spanish Cycling Federation boiled over Thursday in Madrid.
Insulted and offended by McQuaids’s recent remarks about Spain having a serious doping problem, the Federation counter-attacked by banning the Irishman for two years.
“Who is laughing now?”‘ said Javier Del Epocera. “If he has such a low opinion of Spain then so be it. He is forbidden to enter our beautiful country for two years.”
In Geelong during the World Championships, the UCI president was openly critical of Spain’s efforts to combat doping. “There is a problem in Spain because … a large percentage of our doping cases come from Spain. There doesn’t seem to be, so far, the will to tackle that in Spain and that really needs to come from the government down,” said McQuaid.
What has come down from the Spanish government is the two year ban on McQuaid. “The Spanish borders are closed to McQuaid — no rioja, no cava, no tapas, no paella,” said Spanish Sports Minister Luis Testostoro. “The only problem we have with doping is this foolish man. Now, he is forbidden.”
In recent months 2010 Tour champion Alberto Contador, Vuelta runner-up Ezequiel Mosquera and teammate David Blanco as well as mountain bike world champion Marga Fullana were all accused of doping. Nevertheless, in a joint statement today in Madrid, Spanish authorities reiterated that doping is not an issue in Spain.
“Cycling is a difficult sport and sometimes riders take illegal substances to help them win races but just because they were born in Spain and have Spanish sounding names, does not mean we have a problem,” the statement read in part.
Reached for comment, McQuaid admitted to surprise at the Spanish ban but made it clear the battle was far from over. “I prefer the Italian reds anyway and don’t even speak to me about cheap Spanish cava when I can simply go to France for champagne,” said McQuaid.
McQuid himself had attempted to ban the entire country of Spain and the Court for Arbitration in Sport will no doubt be ruling on the legality of both suspensions in the near future.