It's "now or never" for change insists LeMond as he offers to be interim UCI President

Monday, 03 December 2012
By Mike Rowbottom at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in London

Greg LeMond in front of Change Cycling Now logo 2December 3 - Greg LeMond insisted here today that it was "now or never" for cycling to change its governance and culture in the wake of the doping scandal involving Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Services team – and added that he was willing to stand as an interim President for cycling's world governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI).

The three-time Tour de France winner, speaking at the launch of a Charter published by the recently formed pressure group Change Cycling Now, said: "I believe if this sport can't change today – it's now or never.

"This is a big moment for cycling.

"It's the time to change."

LeMond added: "When the USADA [United States Anti-Doping Agency] report was published the lack of reaction from the governing body to make real change was truly shocking.

"I would love to be part of the process of change and if that means an interim Presidency I would be willing to do that."

The Charter of the Willing – the result of a weekend's brainstorming by experts brought together under the Change Cycling banner by Jaimie Fuller, chairman of Skins, the sports gradient compression brand – starts from the premise that the sport's credibility and reputation have been "harmed by the actions and inactions of the UCI", and proposes changes in four key areas.

lance-armstrongThe Lance Armstrong doping scandal has rocked the sport to the core

"The fall-out from the Lance Armstrong affair has made it virtually impossible for the UCI to govern with any level of credibility," said Fuller in a press release.

"They have lost the confidence of all stakeholders and our aim is to force change at the very top of cycling and reaches its full potential.

"As a President who is under investigation by a review committee, Pat McQuaid's position is untenable and the same applies to the UCI's Honorary President, Hein Verbruggen."

Fuller told the press conference: "We are looking for people to sign up to our petition and to put pressure on national federations and the International Olympic Committee [IOC] to make the point that we are really angry and we aren't going to take it anymore.

"Something.

"Must.

"Change.

"We need someone to step into the world governing body who is beyond reproach, a person in whom the whole world can trust.

"And we challenge national federations and the IOC in why they would not want to endorse this Charter."

The experts assembled – including LeMond; Michael Ashenden, one of the world's leading authorities on blood doping; John Hoberman, a sports specialist from the University of Texas; and journalists David Walsh and Paul Kimmage, who have campaigned against doping abuse in cycling – are calling for an independent commission to investigate the UCI and senior management, fully independent doping controls, a cultural change in the UCI and the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which would enable riders to talk frankly about the doping culture which has ravaged the sport.

pat mcquaid 03-12-12There have been calls for Pat McQuaid to step down as President of the UCI in light of the USADA dossier on doping in cycling

Ashenden commented: "Cycling requires strength and reconciliation.

"It requires true leadership and a comprehensive investigation of its recent past.

"We want to be the first sport in the world where the athletes work side-by-side by with the authorities against doping.

"Independence of testing is a prerequisite for future confidence.

"The operation has to be totally beyond the UCI's control – who to test, when to test, what drugs to test them for.

"But as a scientist who specialises in blood doping research it is my opinion that independent testing by itself will be insufficient.

"The riders must help us to help them.

"Telling us, through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, what conditions existed that made them take the decision to take drugs.

"In the short term the assistance we are seeking from the riders will mean we put into place next year a system that will guarantee that the winners of the major Tours have not blood doped.

"It is a short-term, intensive approach that will restore public confidence in the riders.

"It is for the riders and it is very much by the riders.

Change Cycling Now press conference London December 3 2012 2Change Cycling Now have called for a series of changes to help clean-up the UCI

Ashenden added: "I honestly believe that the winner of next year's Tour de France could be clean.

"That would be a remarkable day, when a rider could stand up and say 'I won without blood doping'.

"The unfortunate reality is that everything that a rider can say today Lance Armstrong already said.

"So there is going to be doubt when a rider says 'I'm clean, I've never taken drugs'.

"We've heard that before and we've been let down."

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