Pat McQuaid says Greg LeMond move on UCI is a 'PR stunt'
Cycling president is unimpressed by three-time Tour champion's plans to run sports body in the wake of Lance Armstrong doping scandal
Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond's claim that he should take over cycling's governing body to lead the sport out of crisis following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal is nothing but a publicity stunt, according to UCI president Pat McQuaid.
McQuaid said LeMond "knows nothing" about running elite cycling and anti-doping programmes.
"It is a little bit arrogant of Greg to come along and be used — and he is being used — as a PR stunt," said McQuaid, describing LeMond as a "good friend" from the 1980s. "In all seriousness, this is not the time to be pulling stunts."
The UCI leader suggested that LeMond made a mistake by letting cycling activists promote his bid to replace McQuaid after he joined their meeting in London this month.
"The last 25 years, where has he been? Nowhere. Not involved in cycling. He is outside cycling, shouting at it, looking in," McQuaid said.
The Irish official made clear he planned to stand for election to a third four-year term in September.
"We had a big crisis," McQuaid said. "We have a perception problem, I know that, but I don't see me stepping down is going to change that perception. I need to oversee the action that is going on at the moment."
LeMond, a long-time Armstrong critic, emerged as an unofficial spokesman in recent weeks for the UCI's critics. They seized on the US Anti-Doping Agency's (Usada) suggestions that the governing body protected Armstrong from scrutiny, and accepted money in exchange while he helped his teams run massive doping programmes.
"I would love to be part of the process of change and if that means as interim (UCI) president then I would be willing to do that," LeMond said at the Change Cycling Now forum in London. "I am definitely not pushing myself."
LeMond said it would be like "the fox guarding the henhouse" to leave McQuaid and UCI honorary president Hein Verbruggen, who led cycling from 1991-2005, in office.
The UCI has reacted on three fronts since October 22 when it endorsed a Usada report calling for Armstrong to be banned for life and stripped of his race results, including his record seven Tour de France titles.
McQuaid's embattled organisation is co-operating with an independent commission's investigation into its links to the Armstrong case and is asking stakeholders how to improve cycling's future. That future would not include a suggested series of 10 four-day races, he said.
McQuaid has said the UCI was "as shocked as anybody else" to read of the detailed cheating by Armstrong's US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.
He criticised Usada for "unacceptable" attacks on the UCI's integrity, which he insisted would be upheld by the three-member commission hearings in London in April.
"We need a set of independent facts stating what actually happened," said McQuaid, who expected he and Verbruggen to be called as witnesses in public sessions. "That will be a good thing and the UCI has no fears coming from that."
Former Armstrong teammates have accused UCI of covering up suspicious samples in exchange for payments totaling US$125,000, claims that the governing body has denied.
Lawyers for the commission have begun taking documents and evidence from UCI archives, and McQuaid acknowledged there would be "an open paper trail" explaining Armstrong's payments, that went toward anti-doping projects.