Wednesday, March 05, 2008

McQuaid Addresses the ECU, full text

Earlier in the week,McQuaid sent a letter to the European Cycling Union. Here is the full-text, from this link at the UCI.

Presidents and Officials of the member-federations of the European Cycling Union,

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Welcome to this annual meeting of the UEC Congress. As always, it is an honour and a pleasure to address the representatives of our Sport in Europe, west and east, north and south. Cycling is increasingly becoming global and winning new followers year on year. However, only one region in the world is the birthplace of Cycling and the repository of its heritage. And that is Europe.

All of us in this room are aware that we live in momentous times. Since we know each other very well allow me to dispense with pleasantries and get to the point… with brutal frankness.


Yes, these are troubled times. Our Sport is faced with a clear and present danger. Never before in the history of the International Cycling Union – the worldwide federation of federations— has the institutional foundation of our sport been threatened in the way it is today.

And yet, we stand divided…

Divided, hesitant and unaware of the lethal nature of the challenges that we face.

Therefore, I cannot stand before you today with a “business as usual” attitude. It is my duty to present to you the grave issues at hand and the enormous stakes at risk. I will do so, as you know I always do, in clear and plain language.

It is also my obligation to advise you about UCI’s position in this conflict, formed in strict compliance with its Constitution and its Regulations. Which I will also do so in unmistakable terms.

And finally, as head of the Governing Body for Cycling worldwide, it is appropriate that I brief you on the stance that UCI will take in this crisis. It will be, in a nutshell, the only possible one: We as an organization, and I as its President, will fulfil our mandate.

One word keeps resonating in my mind lately. I think it’s time to say it out loud: The word is


In the last two years, those who have opposed UCI at every turn have justified their actions with a smokescreen of false pretences.

  • They have misrepresented the facts and played on the good-will of many members of the cycling community to proclaim that their only interest is the regeneration of the sport and its future glory…

  • They have discredited the individuals and organizations that defend the principles of fairness and open competition.

  • They have undermined each and every effort made to consolidate a stable framework for the Sport’s professional elite segment to ensure its appeal to riders, teams, sponsors and broadcasters as a source of genuine passion for millions around the world.

  • And they now even seem to be willing to undermine the great progress achieved in the fight against doping, embodied by the Biological Passport initiative, by not paying their contribution.

Let there be no mistake about who I am referring to. These accusers have a name:

Amaury Sports Organization… A. S. O.

Before going on, I should confess here that I have been too prudent, too patient… some of my closest associates would say I might have even been naïve.

Despite the arrogance and the provocations; despite the breaches of agreements

I made efforts to keep the dialogue open, to accept mediation, to avoid burning bridges…

Dialogue with many parties may have been difficult –even tense—at times, but it has been honest and ultimately productive. As a result, we have reached meaningful solutions for issues with all members of the cycling family… except for one: ASO.

By deciding to run the Paris-Nice race outside the UCI rules of participation, ASO have crossed the line of what is legal, what is proper and what is fair.

If successful, they will attain their main objective: a total shift in the balance of power in cycling:

  • From sport to business.

  • From human effort to financial performance.

  • From the quest for victory to the pursuit of profit.

Never mind that up to now, ASO’s proclamations have defied credulity. Now, they’ve decided they can defile the integrity of Cycling through their actions.

But those actions expose them. The agenda behind ASO’s relentless attitude of refusal to accept anything but their own conditions –their own business imperatives— has finally come into clear focus.

Look at the contract that ASO proposed to the teams for their participation in Paris-Nice.

This is what they mean by regenerating the sport!

This is what they mean by protecting the legacy of some of the world’s greatest races!

  • A draconian contract by which the riders and teams have all the obligations and no rights.

  • A carte-blanche to expel any rider or team, at any time, for even the suspicion, rumour or misconduct.

  • Criteria for participation based solely on personal invitation,

  • An admonishment to remain silent, to forgo any criticism under threat of immediate exclusion…

In summary, one very clear message: “Put-up and shut-up… or get out”.

These most recent events have only one upside. They have once and for all torn down the façade behind which ASO has been hiding its true intent. It is now crystal-clear to all that the merchants will stop at nothing in the pursuit of their exclusive financial interests.

A History professor I met recently at a social event explained to me three key steps in any conspirator’s manual for a successful coup d’état:

  • Take control of the Media--which in today’s world would extend to the broader multimedia space.

  • Disband the Institutions, revoke the laws and…

  • Secure the Treasure”

The similarities to ASO’s methods in its grab for power are striking.

  • Step One –the “Media”— is already achieved through cross-ownership of some print media, with ramifications in broadcast, internet, etc.

  • Step Two –repealing the law—is currently at the height of its execution, and…

  • Step Three –taking full control of the enormous economics behind the business of cycling—is the final goal.

Let’s not fool ourselves. ASO and their allies are not about the improvement of our Sport.

  • They are about definitively turning it into a business category, driven solely by maximum financial gain.

  • They are about creating and controlling an economic cartel –actually a conglomerate—among the so-called “Monument” races that no longer responds to the traditions and heritage built up over decades in each of these races but only to a management board.

  • And they are about having the power to force every other actor of the Sport –the riders, the teams, their Sponsors, the federations, the broadcast groups and the general media—to accept exactly the formula that, every season, in every race, will generate more cash.

Unaware. Hesitant. Divided. I used those words at the beginning of these remarks.

Yes, sometimes I fear we are not totally conscious of the magnitude of the challenge that is being cast at our feet.

  • If we cave in to the wishes of whom I call the merchants, we will be signing the death warrant of elite cycling as we know it.

  • It will cease being a sport where the interests of riders and teams are balanced with those of sponsors, broadcasters and all the different players that have a legitimate stake in it.

I said also that we have been hesitant. We felt that by being prudent we were leaving open the door to acceptable compromises for all.

  • But our adversaries have mistaken discretion for weakness.

  • This is a serious mistake.

  • As trustees of the mandate given to UCI by the federations, we have the resolve to carry out our obligations to the fullest extent.

And we are divided

Today, here, in this room, sits a Federation president that has chosen to throw its support behind the Paris-Nice in the new form that its organizers have imposed

It is difficult for me to witness how the steward that has received the trust of the entire French Federation would take the route of de facto secession to support a private concern. I can not understand how this attitude might preserve the interests of all the constituents of the French Cycling Federation.

And I am saddened when one of our member federations seems unable –or unwilling—to withstand the pressure of economic and political power.

M. Pittalier: Let me make one final appeal to you and your federation today. I make it from the bottom of my heart both as President of the UCI and as a former cyclist…

  • Please reconsider the path you are taking.

    • Please do not mistake defending France and the traditions of French sport with protecting a business that happens to be French but could be from anywhere else. Money has no nationality.

    • Please correct the misconception, apparent even in the Government of your country that the UCI is against France and wishes to destroy the Tour and other legacy races.

The so called “Monuments” of French cycling –the Paris-Roubaix, the Tour-- have been kidnapped and will ultimately become a travesty of their former glory if profit and the blind laws of the market prevail over the values of sport.

And I ask all of you to equally reflect deeply and sincerely on these issues. We have a collective duty here today, and in upcoming days, weeks and months. It is to preserve, to protect and enforce the rules of our Sport. They are there to ensure fairness. They can be changed, of course, through a thoughtful, legal and democratic process… They can be adapted to new demands, to new opportunities… But they can not be thrown out when they cease to serve the interests of just one party.

The UCI is prepared to live up to this duty. And I am personally committed to the two core elements of the mandate I was given when elected to preside our organization:

  • Ensure a return to the highest standards of Governance, cohesion and future development for Cycling around the World, and…

  • Fight without quarter against the scourge of doping in our sport.

The difficulties of this mission carry a significant toll. I am no longer a popular man in many circles.

But these last events have only strengthened my resolve. I am not only committed. I am totally dedicated to this task.

I will not allow a full-fledged aggression of our Organization.

I will continue ensuring that UCI’s resources apply –rigorously but fairly—the full weight of our regulations.

I have said ENOUGH!

I ask you to say the same here today and act in consequence.

Thank you.


Eightzero said...

Where was McQ when ASO was repealing the law vis 2006 S17 results?

He was standing by idly while ASO repealed the laws. UCI had no objection then because it did not threaten their operations.

Now the ASO treachery threatens UCI, so it is time to say "Enough"!


bobble said...

"Despite the arrogance and the provocations..."

In the eternal words of Bender, "oh myyyy gawwddd."

New episodes coming this year to!

Unknown said...

Let me get this straight....UCI is accusing ASO of trying to make money??? Let's see, I organize a race and try to make a profit - Isn't that what I'm supposed to do? And in order for me to make a profit, I invite teams that my country (ie France) want to see in the race. Somebody, please tell me why it's wrong for ASO to try to make money??

Umm...Let's charge Pro Tour teams millions to be part of our 'club' and force race organizers to start 'our teams' against their will. Hmmm...where did all the millions go? It sure hasn't gone to making doping tests more infallible?

I think the UCI has jumped into the deep end with no safety rope. Their blasting ASO for being business oriented. ASO has never tried to deny doping - they want it out of the sport as much as anyone.

There hasn't been any documented information about the biological passport as far as the science goes but the UCI wants ASO to help pay for the development?? Come on, that doesn't make sense, especially with all the concerns brought up by Floyd's case.

The UCI should go back to trying to ensure that cycling is as fair as possible. Let the race organizers do what they do best, organize races. It's the Race Organizers decision who races.

I say scrap the PRO TOUR right now and go back to team selections the way it used to be. Seems pretty simple to me.

ange said...

Notwithstanding the similarities of McQ's statement of "my resolve has never been stronger" to those of the emperor in StarWars 3, McQ makes a good case that ASO IS making a power play and this can not be accepted. Specifics aside for a moment, individual race directors can not and should not solely determine competitive and participation rules. If ASO wants to run races and make money, that is great. What the can't do however, is limit participation to only those teams they like. Given the fact that they own the TdF, Paris-Nice, and other classics which are integral to cycling's traditions, it is irresponsible and childish for them to say that we don't like the Pro Tour (a good, but as yet imperfect construct) so we are going to take our toys and play in anothter sandbox.

The doping issues need to handled on an international basis not a national one. No offense, but I trust ASO/L'Equipe/LNDD about as far as I can throw them