Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Vanilla Ice - The solution to problems with governing bodies?

“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.

The 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 current riders.

“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 before”.

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’.

Cycling 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 underpants.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment