Jonathan Vaughters came to the public defense of Paul Kimmage today and explained why he’s one of the few within the ranks of pro cycling.
“I think that there’s an overarching fear. What the consequences could be. Is it going to hurt your team’s WorldTour licensing prospects, for example? Is it somehow going to put you on a blacklist? I think there’s fear of that,” said Vaughters. “Whether that fear is sensible or not, I don’t know but I would say that’s probably the reason. There’s some fear in the professional ranks that the consequences could be very high if you say something the UCI doesn’t like.”
Anyone who was observed the UCI’s dealings in the last few years understand why that fear exists. The UCI under the leadership of Hein Verbruggen and current president Patrick McQuaid has used intimidation and vindictive behavior as part of they robustness model.
Remember that last year McQuaid allegedly threatened teams with dire consequences if they carried out their plans to boycott the UCI’s pet project, the Tour of Beijing. Quoting from the highly respected blog the Inner Ring “McQuaid assures the team sponsor, failing to appear at the start line in Beijing would result in a summons from the UCI License Commission where the team could lose their race license and the benefits associated with this.”
That certainly qualifies as fear and intimidation and it’s exactly why Vaughters says there other riders, team managers and sponsors are hesitant to publicly support Kimmage. The UCI has singled out Kimmage — and not the paper for which he wrote — for his criticism of the UCI and their anti-doping efforts.
This method of intimidation is standard operating procedure for the UCI and goes back to the days when Hein Verbruggen ran the show. His recent interview at the Worlds with Daniel Benson of cycling new.com showcased the attitude of the UCI toward any critics. “I know what we have to do and we always did. Someone has doubts about that, court, simple. Also Mr Pound. I have nothing to hide,” said Verbruggen.
In the course of what can only be described as a rambling, angry and bombastic interview, Verbruggen even insults Benson for asking the basic rational questions: “God dammit. You’re here with your microphone embarrassing me with all types of questions. I’m mad at people like you.” Does this sound like a man who keeps a blacklist, who takes any criticism personally, who’s be only to happy to punish teams and riders in any number of ways?
When the Landis allegations hit, Pat McQuaid publicly declared that Landis wasn’t worth listening, that he was some crazy nut ball. When USADA said they had a strong doping case against Lance Armstrong, McQuaid initially said it was their affair and the UCI wasn’t interested. But criticize the UCI and suddenly the threats and intimidation begin.
When Jonathan Vaughters inadvertently outed his Garmin-Sharp riders Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde and Dave Zabriskie, the UCI was suddenly very interested and ready to investigate. Yet two years ago in the wake of the Landis allegations, when Vaughters told the UCI that his riders were available for questioning, the UCI wasn’t interested.
So it comes as no surprise that Vaughters is all too familiar with the heavy-handed tactics of the UCI. “At the end of the day I see Paul as someone who had the best interests of the sport of cycling in mind,” said Vaughters. “For the governing body of cycling to be suing him I think is sad.”
Sad and vindictive.