Cycling president says drug cheats exploit anti-doping holes
Lance Armstrong grimaces prior to the start of the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Wanze, Belgium, Tuesday, July 6, 2010. (AP / Christophe Ena)
Published Friday, October 12, 2012 7:44AM EDT
BEIJING -- The president of the International Cycling Union defended his organization's efforts to catch drug cheats in the wake of a damning report on Lance Armstrong's doping practices, saying Friday that the testing system must be more stringent.
UCI President Pat McQuaid refused to comment on the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's report this week that accused Armstrong of systematic doping. Instead, McQuaid cited inadequacies in the anti-doping system for failing to catch drug-using athletes.
"At UCI, all we can do is test and test and test and send the tests to the lab, and if they come back negative they come back negative," McQuaid said at the Tour of Beijing. "If athletes, not just cyclists, can beat the system, then the system isn't strong enough."
The UCI has yet to decide whether to ratify USADA's decision to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. The USADA report said that Armstrong was able to cheat doping tests because some staff members of the U.S. Postal Service team knew in advance when testers were going to be at races.
McQuaid said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on that and other allegations while the organization was in the process of examining the report.
He said, however, that the anti-doping system has improved since the 1998-2009 period of Armstrong's career examined in the report. He was optimistic that the cycling union can recover from the blow the report dealt to the sport and his organization's reputation.
"Time will tell. It's not something that we have never dealt with before, we've had problems like this before. We've got through and the sport has got through and we will work through this one as well," McQuaid said.
Asked if the report will prompt changes in how the UCI is run, he said that "we have to wait and see exactly what's in there, and if there are things to be learnt from it, well, we will do so."