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In this week’s Cycling Weekly - sadly, not somewhere you turn for balanced coverage of the Floyd Landis case - journalist Jeremy Whittle interviews Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI.
McQuaid is famous for speaking before thinking, yet, without a shred of irony, he told Whittle that WADA boss Dick Pound is often guilty of the very same trait.
“Once a journalist shoves something in front of [Pound] he goes AWOL, you know. He does tend to start speaking before his brain engages, which is unfortunate. That’s commonly known.
“I think he does it on purpose, but it may be for a different reason not to help the sport, but for political reasons within the IOC, or something.”
YouTube’s only video of BigPat:
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
In June 2005, I witnessed McQuaid’s leap-before-looking technique at close quarters. At the time he was vice-president of the UCI. I travelled to the UCI HQ in Switzerland to present him with a 10,679 signature petition on the confused and illogical suspension of the kilo track event as an Olympic discipline. Joining me for the trip was track rider Julie Dominguez, a prime mover on the petition.
McQuaid accepted the petition, then spent twenty minutes digging a big hole for himself. I wrote up his eye-popping claims for a story on BikeBiz.com, published it thanks to an open wifi network at the futuristic UCI building, and then took a train from Aigle to Lausanne, heading for the HQ of the International Olympic Committee. By the time I got there, two hours later, the IOC’s press man had read my story and the wheels had been set in motion to slap down Pound’s claims about the IOC.
A week later, McQuaid told Cycling Weekly he was “livid” at finding himself in what the magazine called the “centre of an embarrassing controversy.”
He told Cycling Weekly that his comments, witnessed by two people, were “off the record” even though he had made no mention of such a request.
In a blistering phone call, McQuaid changed this claim. He told me: “In my mind it was off the record.”
Presumably he’s since learned his lesson and his tape-recorded conversation with Jeremy Whittle was all on the record.
Whittle asked: “What’s your response to Floyd Landis, the campaign he is leading and his attacks on the UCI and WADA?”
McQuaid replied:“Well, Floyd attacks everybody except himself. His is very much a public relations exercise to advance his position. The authorities on the other side are not allowed to put publically their position, so it’s a very one-side show at the moment.”
Come again? WADA’s Pound and UCI’s McQuaid have kept schtum throughout the Landis controversy? What colour is the sky on Planet McQuaid?
“It’s still sub-judice so I don’t want to comment on the rights and wrongs of it,” continued McQuaid, and then, ignoring his own comment, he said:
“All I can say is that there are two positive cases against Floyd Landis and when he goes before the hearings in the middle of May he has got to prove how that testosterone got into his system.”
Whittle doesn’t quiz McQuaid on the recent doubt cast on the urine samples in the Landis case but maybe it can be inferred from this question:
“But you have not got any reason to doubt the procedures at the laboratory at Chatenay-Malabry?”
McQuaid: “No, no reason to have any doubts. The lab isn’t one of the favourite labs of the UCI, so to speak â€“ we’re not very happy with some of the things they have done in terms of leakage of information, but in terms of the process we have no doubts. And remember, for the ‘B’ sample, Floyd had an expert there the whole time. His expert watched the whole procedure for the ‘B’ sample. But it’s not for me to judge, it’s the hands of somebody else.”
Let’s be thankful for small mercies.