For years three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond has been an outspoken critic of the International Cycling Union (UCI) and its methods for handling doping scandals and testing of riders on the professional circuit. Now he wants to be a part of the process of cleaning up that institution and the sport that he dearly loves.
Yesterday it was revealed that Lemond has said that he would be willing to step in as the interim president of the UCI while investigations proceeds over the Union’s relationship with Lance Armstrong, who some allege current UCI President Pat McQuaid, and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen, conspired to protect.
Last week the UCI announced that a three-person panel would investigate McQuaid and Verbruggen’s dealings with Armstrong to look for any impropriety that may have occurred over the years. In the past, Armstrong had donated large sums of money to the organization, which it has been alleged were payoffs to cover up failed drug tests or to get investigators off the now-disgraced cyclist’s back. For his part, Armstrong has always said that those donations were to help fund the UCI and support efforts for cleaning up the sport, something that seems particularly odd considering recent revelations.
At a recent meeting of the Change Cycling Now organization, LeMond questioned how McQuaid could continue to run the UCI while the investigation into any wrong doing was under way. He felt that having an interim president step in to run the Union while things are sorted out was in the best interest of the sport, and while he says he isn’t campaigning for the job, he has offered to step into the role if necessary.
Now that Armstrong has been stripped of his Tour de France titles, LeMond is the only American to have ever officially won that race. The two men have sparred with one another in recent years with LeMond urging Armstrong to come clean about his use of performance enhancing drugs while competing. Armstrong always denied those allegations of course, saying that LeMond simply had an axe to grind because he was no longer seen as America’s top cyclists. It wasn’t until the past few months that we saw Armstrong’s house of cards collapse that we began to see the full picture of what was happening during those seven Tour wins.
Whether or not LeMond will actually become the UCI president remains to be seen, but he does seem like the right man for the job. He has been an outspoken critic of the sport of cycling for quite some time and he has always been committed to helping clean it up. It is hard to say how much he could do serving in an interim role, but if the job were to become more permanent, I believe we’d see some drastic changes.
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