Pat McQuaid, the colossally inept president of the UCI, has been quiet for a number of months. This is out of character for the blustery Irishman who often has trouble controlling his need for rambling pontification. Since the successful surgery back in May to remove his foot from his mouth, he’s kept a relatively low profile.
But McQuid and his private club, the UCI, is back in the news trying to take over the USAFA doping investigation into Lance Armstrong (and company) during his Tour de France domination with the United Postal and Discovery teams.
The UCI request was a surprise and not a surprise. McQuaid had previously said that USADA has jurisdiction and the UCI had no interest in running the investigation. No doubt they were hoping the embarrassing case would simply go away eventually — like the Federal one that was dropped after two years on the whim of Federal attorney Andre Birotte.
However, the USADA case isn’t going away and the agency CEO Travis Tygart isn’t backing down. Today he turned down the UCI request and made no bones about the position of USADA. “The USPS Doping Conspiracy was going on under the watch of UCI, so of course UCI and the participants in the conspiracy who cheated sport with dangerous performance enhancing drugs to win have a strong incentive to cover up what transpired,” said Tygart. That’s legalese for”stick it where the sun don’t shine.”
McQuaid was perhaps thinking he and the UCI could stall the investigation and let it die a protracted but media-silent death. Not gong to happen and Tygart has shown he doesn’t take crap from anyone, not Lance, not Bruyneel, not McQuaid and the UCI.
Should USADA win its case against Armstrong, it will be damaging for the reputation of the UCI in general and McQuid in particular. This is a man who lied about not one but two financial “gifts” from Armstrong to the UCI — s staggering conflict of interest and blatantly unethical. McQuaid has gone out of his way to support Armstrong and dismiss the allegations of former teammate Floyd Landis.
In fact, one wonders why the UCI even bothered to make the request. Perhaps it was just part of a larger strategy to make USADA look hell bent on persecuting Armstrong — a strategy the Armstrong camp has used in their battle over public perceptions of the case.
So far Tygart and USADA had done a terrific job of steering the case through the media and past Armstrong’s lawyers. “The participants of the USPS Doping conspiracy made their decisions to use dangerous banned drugs to win and our job is to apply the rules whether someone is famous or anonymous,” said Tygart. “We will do that on behalf of the millions of people who demand clean sport despite these external pressures.”
The UCI tried to exert some external pressure to no vail. As is so often the case, the UCI would have done better not making the request. When it comes to McQuaid, making noise generally backfires.