Oct 272012

UCI President Pat McQuaid (Stephen Farrand)

Pat McQuaid, President of the UCI, whom Greg LeMond has said should “f##k off  and resign,” apparently thinks Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton are “scumbags.”

Mc Quaid is entitled to his opinion, of course, on these kinds of esthetic character judgments.  But I have to admit that, if given the choice of sitting down for a beer with Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, or Pat McQuaid, I’d be inclined to choose the disgraced doping former cyclists over the current UCI president.

It’s not that I have any particular love for scumbags.  It’s that Pat McQuaid is one of the last people I’d ever trust to pick out the scumbags from any crowd.  Why?  McQuaid, even if he isn’t actually corrupt, may just be irredeemably stupid.  Being a mere scumbag isn’t a bar to an interesting conversation.  Stupidity, sadly, often is.

I don’t know Hamilton, Landis, or McQuaid.  But from what I’ve seen over the past few weeks, McQuaid’s bulb doesn’t burn very bright.

The UCI, in ratifying the USADA’s decision to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France victories and ban him for life, admits by that action that USADA’s reasoned decision is persuasive on the question of whether Lance Armstrong won those Tours by cheating and using PEDs.  If it is persuasive about that question, it cannot but be even more persuasive on the question of whether doping was prevalent and widespread during the years Armstrong was racing.  Armstrong himself has never admitted to doping, but riders like Hincapie, Leipheimer, Zabriskie, etc. all confessed to repeated doping, with the assistance of a support network of doctors and directors sportif who looked the other way or encouraged the cheating.

Who was supposed to be in charge of policing these riders and teams?  The UCI.  Clearly, the UCI failed miserably in that mission.  That’s point one.

Point two is that since the USADA investigation was made public and the UCI was forced to strip Armstrong of his victories, Pat McQuaid has done only the bare minimum required to convince the sponsors and fans of cycling that the Armstrong affair won’t just be another repeat of the 1998 Festina affair, where a big stink was made about doping and then everyone got right back to it when the fuss died down.  He’s giving every appearance of kicking and screaming the whole way.

Point three: Pat McQuaid refuses to drop his lawsuit against Paul Kimmage.

Point four: Pat McQuaid publicly accuses Landis and Hamilton of being “scumbags” at the very moment that the problem of an omertà in the professional cycling peloton is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  That, Pat, will do nothing to squelch that rumor.  It would be stupid of you not to realize that.

Point five: Pat McQuaid, after finding the USADA reasoned decision persuasive enough to strip Armstrong’s titles and impose a lifetime ban, goes on about how flawed the USADAs investigative techniques were, about how the USADA report included “animated or overstated language,” and implies that the USADA had a conflict of interest in investigating Armstrong. “It would have been better that the evidence collected by USADA had been assessed by a neutral body or person who was not involved in collecting the evidence and prosecuting the defendant.”  REALLY?  The USADA is the neutral body who was investigating Armstrong, because the conflicted body, the UCI, wasn’t doing it.  The breathtaking stupidity of this statement boggles my mind.  Travis Tygart of the USADA responds succinctly: “We set forth our position on why they were conflicted in this case on many different grounds. They accepted money from him (Armstrong), they accused us of a witch-hunt (without seeing any evidence), they sued the chief whistleblower, they discouraged witnesses from participating. They simply are trying to divert attention away from their own failures in this whole sad saga, and those that love the sport of cycling and clean sport should not allow that to happen.”  Exactly.  But Pat McQuaid says the USADA is the conflicted party.  That’s not just defensive; that’s stupid.

Point six: Pat Mc Quaid, if he wasn’t so stupid, would realize that the cloud of mistrust and suspicion that hangs over the UCI will not go away if he, Pat McQuaid, does not resign.  His failure to see that is the stupidest thing he’s done so far.

Tyler Hamilton may be a scumbag; I don’t know.  I’ve never met him.  But he’s certainly correct about the Armstrong affair and the role of Pat McQuaid: “Pat McQuaid’s comments expose the hypocrisy of his leadership and demonstrate why he is incapable of any meaningful change,” Hamilton said in a statement released on Tuesday.  “Instead of siezing an opportunity to instill hope for the next generation of cyclists, he continues to point fingers, shift blame and attack those who speak out, tactics that are no longer effective. Pat McQuaid has no place in cycling.”

Pat McQuaid should do as LeMond suggests.  Resign.  Perhaps it won’t save cycling and its fans from his corruption, but it will save them from his stupidity.