Looks like the not-so-cold war between the UCI and the ASO is escalating. Today’s big news is that Pat McQuaid is now trying to organize a boycott of the ASO’s Paris-Nice race, which is due to start less than 2 weeks from now.
McQuaid told the Associated Press:
“It’s about power and it has nothing to do with sport.”
Truer words, from the mouth of Pat McQuixote. McQuaid continues by saying, “We cannot allow this to happen.” Hmm. Now, about this power thing: Perhaps someone at the UCI is grumbling a bit because his organization is in danger of losing some of their power?
McQuaid says that the current action being undertaken by the UCI, which includes sending a letter to all UCI-registered professional cycling teams asking them not to participate in the Paris-Nice race, comes because the ASO is organizing the “Race to the Sun” under French Cycling Federation (FFC) rules. In years past, the Paris-Nice race has been sanctioned by the UCI.
Cycling’s international governing body called the ASO’s actions “utterly irregular,” warning that the organizer’s actions ” will have far-reaching consequences for all parties involved.” The UCI also said in a statement that if France’s cycling federation “insists on maintaining this position, the race will take place entirely outside the regulatory and organizational structure of the UCI.”
Perhaps that was the ASO’s point? The UCI also notes that, “No anti-doping controls will be carried out by the UCI, nor will it be involved in the management of any tests which may be carried out under national law.” The organization also warns that ASO’s Paris-Nice race will have “no links to organized sport or to the Olympic movement, of which the UCI is the sole organ of reference for all disciplines of cycling.” Now there’s a threat that’s got to have Christian Prudhomme quaking in his boots.
McQuaid has already suggested that this latest move by the ASO to operate outside of the UCI’s jurisdiction will have adverse effects on the organizer’s biggest race, the Tour de France. McQuaid is threatening to sanction any team that participates in the Paris-Nice race, as well as impose sanctions on the FFC.
“According to UCI regulations, international teams cannot participate” in the race, McQuaid said. “We will take away anti-doping inspectors. Any penalties that would then apply don’t have value on an international basis.”
I’d like to see which of the UCI’s regulations says that international teams can’t participate. Or that the UCI can sanction teams who do. I did a scan tonight of the UCI’s for road cycling races and teams, and I found no rules that suggest the UCI has such authority. Perhaps I missed the pertinent rules. If they actually exist, they’re pretty obscure and very well hidden.
I did see a rule that says only UCI-approved riders can participate as members of a UCI Pro Continental team in UCI-sanctioned races. (I suspect there may also be such a rule for ProTour races, though I didn’t find it.) Nothing in there about non-UCI sanctioned races. Nothing in there about sanctioning national federations who run races against the UCI’s wishes.
According to the AP article, the UCI won’t recognize the winner of the Paris-Nice race, nor will they award points (towards what? the overall ProTour championship?) to the winner. Threats, to be sure. But from where I see it, pretty empty threats.
In waging a war (or for that matter contesting a stage race), one needs to know how to pick his/her battles. The fight that Pat McQuixote is picking with the ASO (and vice versa), especially with the hyperbole involved, may well do more to damage the cycling federation than the race organizers. I suspect that Christian Prudhomme and others within the ASO organization are sitting back, waiting for McQuaid’s efforts to fail. If so, that could be their wisest move of all. Pat McQ may prove that the UCI is nothing more than a paper tiger, which could well damage the organization’s ability to govern cycling effectively. But in the meantime, who’s really going to suffer in all of this? Mostly, it’ll be the riders.
Meanwhile, Back At The Rock Racing Ranch…
VeloNews.com has a story that suggests one Mr. John Doe/Kayle Leogrande may be in a whole heap o’ trouble. That is, if what the story says is true.
former team soigneur says Rock Racing’s Kayle Leogrande told her last July that he used performance-enhancing drugs at Wisconsin’s International Cycling Classic, also known as Superweek.
In a sworn affidavit obtained by VeloNews, dated October 27 and filed with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Suzanne Sonye says Leogrande confided that he had used testosterone gel, had taken “lots of things,” including EPO, and that he had put soap on his wrist prior to entering a doping control at Superweek, hoping that by urinating on the soap, it would “f– up the test.”
Sonye’s affidavit could be used as a part of a non-analytical positive prosecution of Leogrande, if USADA is pursuing such a case. However, Sonye would most likely have to testify and hold up well under cross-examination before her story could be used to convict Leogrande of doping. That’s because the standard of proof required for such a case is closer to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that applies in criminal cases, a precedent set during the first successful uses of the non-analytical positive to convict Michelle Collins, Tim Montgomery and Chryste Gaines.
Michael Ball, owner of the Rock Racing team, said, “Rock Racing supports all of our riders. We live by the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty. Kayle Leogrande has denied the allegations regarding an alleged admission by him of an anti-doping event. We are asking that everyone respect the proper process. If there is a finding of a doping violation, we will address it internally and determine the appropriate course of action that should be taken. As always, Rock Racing subscribes to the highest principles of conduct as well as fairness and we stand by those principles.”
That’s a fair point to make. Leogrande deserves the presumption of innocence, at the very least until a tribunal looks at the evidence and makes its own determination. The reality, however, is that just the report of this story is going to be enough to convince many people that Leogrande is guilty.
If what Suzanne Sonye is saying is true, then Leogrande’s future as a professional cyclist is decidedly cloudy. Especially if, as the story contends, Rock Racing management was made aware of Leogrande’s statements to Sonye. You’ve got to wonder, though: Exactly how did a copy of her affidavit wind up in the hands of a VeloNews reporter? Did it come from USADA? Did it come from Sonye, or another current or former Rock Racing employee?
For what purpose was the affidavit released? Sonye has certainly put her own reputation on the line. If USADA ever pushes a case against Leogrande, it will be interesting to see whether she testifies, and what she would say if she does. My guess is that the cross-examination would be pretty intense.
But what if no charges are ever brought against Leogrande? What would the point of releasing this information be? And who would be benefiting from its release? We need to look at information from many angles before we leap to any conclusions — even though the obvious conclusion right now leads us in a certain direction. One thing is true, however: If Kayle Leogrande wants to continue racing as a professional cyclist, he’s got some explaining to do.