“Alright, stop! Collaborate and listen”. So said Vanilla Ice at the start of his No1 hit, Ice Ice Baby. While nobody could say the Miami rapper was a philosopher, there is a message in these words that the heads of sporting governing bodies across the world would do well to heed.
Yesterday the UCI held a press conference to
respond to the USADA report concerning Lance Armstrong and doping. It’s
chief, Pat McQuaid, started strongly saying that “Lance Armstrong had
no place in cycling”. He went on to say that the UCI was to uphold
USADA’s decision to strip Armstrong of his 7 Tour de France titles. A
positive start then but it wasn’t going to last long.
Lance Armstrong affair has raised certain misgivings about UCI’s
handling of the case, both at the time and subsequently. In 2001
Armstrong presented ‘suspicious data’ relating to EPO tests. Mr McQuaid,
although not president at the time, admitted he did know about the
results of these tests. However whether more aggressive follow up
testing of Armstrong and others happened is at best open to
interpretation. More worrying was McQuaid’s acknowledgement that a
payment accepted by the UCI from Armstrong, allegedly to cover up a
positive result, something he strenuosly denied, was probably a mistake.
However this would not stop him from accepting further payments from
“We are not an agency or organisation
that has unlimited funds. We are not FIFA with billions in the bank. We
spend all our money on the development of the sport and when we can get
sources of funding we will do so.”
“It would have been
best if we had not done it (taken LA’s money) but if we do it in the
future it will be done in a different way. If any riders came to UCI
now and wanted to contribute to the development of the sport or
ant-doping or training programmes then the UCI would accept that money.
But we would accept it differently and announce it differently than
When pushed on whether he thought this was a
conflict of interests Mr McQuaid appeared to get angrier and the tone of
his replies became more aggressive. Later one on one interviews would
show this tension remained close to the surface, as he called
whistleblowers Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton ‘scumbags’.
though isn’t the only sport whose chiefs have adopted an ostrich, head
in the sand, style defence. This summer’s European Championships in
Football was clouded with worries over racism and hooliganism. FIFA
showed a reluctance to deal with this head on but were far more
proactive, and quicker on the trigger, when it came to fining Denmark’s
Nicholas Bendtner over his display of a sponsor’s logo on his
Racism and football have been in the news
nationally over the last weekend and beyond. High profile cases such as
Louis Saurez and John Terry have brought the issue back into sharp
focus. This weekend saw the start of the Kick it Out campaign’s annual
highlighting of the issue. Players from all clubs were to wear t-shirts
bearing the Kick it Out logo. However the apparent lack of action by
the FA and other governing bodies to tackle racism prompted certain
players, most notably Rio Ferdinand, to choose not to wear them as a
mark of protest.
The problem is rather than highlight the
problem of racism and to allow all parties to come together to discuss
potential solutions, the focus has switched to Sir Alex Ferguson’s
disapproval of Ferdinand’s actions.
This is the same with
the UCI. Following on from the USADA report, the focus has moved from
where in reality it needs to be. There are important issues and
questions that need answered, whether it be the way forward for the UCI
and their management of cycling of what actions the FA and other
governing bodies are now going to take in regards to racism in football.
Unfortunately all the sideshows and other stories that have spawned
from these have taken the spotlight away. Unless governing bodies stand
up and face these problems and questions head on, these issues will
never go away.
‘Alright, stop! Collaborate and listen’? Wise words indeed Mr Ice.