Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond called on International Cycling Union head Pat McQuaid to quit and for riders to skip buying race licenses from USA Cycling, saying he was in a “rage” over possible corruption in the sport.
“I want to tell the world of cycling to please join me in telling Pat McQuaid to resign,” LeMond, who won cycling’s most prestigious race in 1986, 1989 and 1990, said on Facebook. “The sport does not need Pat McQuaid or Hein Verbruggen -- if this sport is going to change it is now. Not next year, not down the road, now! Now or never!”
McQuaid, from Ireland, is the president of the group, also known by the French acronym UCI. Verbruggen, from the Netherlands, was president from 1991 to 2005 and has since been an honorary president.
Enrico Carpani, a UCI spokesman, declined to comment on LeMond’s letter in an e-mail.
LeMond’s comments follow UCI’s decision Oct. 22 not to appeal the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to strip Lance Armstrong’s record seven Tour de France titles and ban him from competition in sanctioned events after Armstrong declined to contest doping allegations. Armstrong, 41, has denied performance-enhancing drug use and said he never failed a drug test.
“Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling,” McQuaid said at a news conference when revealing UCI’s decision. “He deserves to be forgotten in cycling.”
With USADA, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, providing more than 1,000 pages of evidence that doping was rife in the sport, McQuaid knew what was going on, LeMond said.
“You are the epitome of the word corruption,” he wrote about McQuaid.
UCI, based in Aigle, Switzerland, has faced allegations that it helped Armstrong cover up a suspicious drug test at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland, assertions McQuaid and Verbruggen denied. Armstrong later donated $125,000 to the group to help the fight against doping, UCI confirmed this week, according to the Britain’s Telegraph newspaper.
LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France, has long been a critic of Armstrong. He said in 2004 he no longer supported his countryman following doping allegations in the book “L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong,” according to the French newspaper Le Monde.
The 51-year-old LeMond also urged riders not to buy racing licenses from USA Cycling and for them to “give up racing for a year, just long enough to put the UCI and USA cycling out of business.” USA Cycling is the sport’s American governing body.
“We can then start from scratch and let the real lovers in cycling direct where and how the sport of cycling will go,” he said.
USA Cycling, which ceded its role investigating and punishing dopers when USADA was created in 2000, responded in an e-mailed statement, saying it is not responsible for drug testing and anti-doping control and that no license fees collected from the thousands of national events it sanctions each year are sent to UCI.
“LeMond’s suggestion that cyclists abandon USA Cycling is misguided and betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of USA Cycling’s role in the national and international cycling community,” the statement said. “Indeed, USA Cycling has evolved significantly since Mr. LeMond’s retirement from cycling in 1994 and, frankly, Mr. LeMond would be gratified to learn that cycling within the United States today is actually governed in the manner he heralds.”
Tyler Hamilton, a former teammate who testified to USADA that he and Armstrong doped during their cycling careers, also called this week for McQuaid to step down.