The UCI has a high threshold of pain.
Despite the recent CAS ruling against Alejandro Valverde, which essentially said the Italian two year ban was legal and based on admissible and convincing evidence of guilt, the Spaniard is racing again. He and his Caisse d’Epargne back-up band are playing in Saturday’s Grand Prix Miguel Indurain.
Strange but true and fresh proof that the self-proclaimed governing body of the sport has an inexhaustible supply of cheeks. Smack, slap, insulted again. The UCI stated it would move to ban Valverde after the CAS decision but first had to wait — yes, there’s that word again — wait for someone else to make a decision.
It would be easy to laugh or cry or rage or just engage in a hour of baffled head shaking when it comes to president Patrick McQuaid and his band of gutless functionaries at the UCI. The word governing calls to mind all sorts of leadership qualities: integrity, decision-making, vision and pro-active engagement in the sport. None of these apply to the UCI.
Valverde announced that he’s “really motivated and hungry for racing.” The people who care about professional bike racing are hungry for a resolution to this four year Operacion Puerto mess. Since his alleged involvement in doping, Valverde has won over 20 major races, including last year’s Vuelta. He’s the black eye on wheels, the embarrassment that never stops pedaling.
The Court for Arbitration in Sports handed McQuaid and the UCI the legal justification for a global ban on Valverde the instant the ruling came down. There’s no need to wait for an additional CAS ruling on whether the Spanish Federation should have prosecuted their rider. That case has no real bearing on the UCI imposing a ban.
McQuaid admitted he’s been frustrated for years by Valverde’s legal tactics, the stalling and constant appeals based on jurisdiction, not evidence. He’s on record as saying he believes Valverde is both guilty and a constant embarrassment to cycling. This doesn’t seem to prevent him from turning his cheek once again.
What happens when an organization is incapable of decision making, is that other, bolder, smarter organizations are forced to take control. CONI waited for the UCI for several years then decided to take matters into their own aggressive hands and banned Valverde.
You can be sure the French are the next to fill the UCI decison void. ASO, the group that runs the Tour de France, and the French Anti-Doping agency (AFLD) have a low opinion of McQuaid’s operation. Right now they’re drumming their fingers on the table waiting for the UCI to ban Valverde all over the planet.
The fact is, no matter what the UCI does, the French will join the Italians in banning Valverde. When that happens it will be hard for Belgium to allow Alejandro to race in their country. If McQuaid waits much longer, he’ll have nothing left to rule on except whether Valverde can race the Tour of Oman or not.
The UCI lost its credibility a few years ago. Slap, smack, turn the other cheek.