From a 2003 interview of Hein Verbruggen, at The Daily Peloton by Janna Trevisanut
The UCI submitted a nearly 80 page annotated document to WADA, proposing code language and including 30 pages of practical and philosophic comments. Among these UCI comments are a few very significant disagreements with the wording and/or spirit of the Anti-Doping Code, specifically on ensuring that the code is evenly enforced across all sporting disciplines, redundancy of testing (harmonization), and the sanctions for athletes who test positive in a doping test (called a "control"). The Daily Peloton contacted UCI President Mr. Hein Verbruggen for his comments on these and other points.
"This code is written by mainly by USADA people [the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency], by Mr. Richard Young, and this code is made extremely detailed, extremely detailed – it is done as you do it in America. In America, if you arrest somebody, for instance, you have to say, ‘These are your rights, you’re entitled to have your lawyer, this is the Constitution.’" [Mr. Young is a member of the WADA Anti-Doping Code Project Team]
I am not against sanctions. I’m surely not. But these sanctions are unfair for our athletes. It is because they made a mistake, but the WADA have put in two years minimum [as a sanction]. And the two years minimum – I’m not against a minimum, but if you take a minimum sanction of two years, that sanction, for certain sports, means not only a minimum, it’s immediately a maximum because the athlete can’t make it back to the sport.
"And at the same time, if there is a shooter, a shooter doesn’t lose a job because it’s not a professional sport. He can continue to practice. If he’s been found positive, he’s out for two years, he can continue to practice – he might even be a police agent who practices shooting anyhow – and after two years he can take up his sport again and become a world champion again. He hasn’t lost any income. And he can continue because he has a sports career of thirty years, perhaps. Whereas a cyclist, he has a sports career of ten years. If you give him two years, if ever he can make it back, and that’s questionable, it’s 20% of his sporting career."
In Athens we have two athletes that test positive, an American professional cyclist, and an American professional basketball player. The American cyclist is two years out of his job - in the same games – he is positive, two years out of his job. And the American basketball player just goes home and continues to play.
"I haven’t received any answer from WADA. But I’m very curious, because Mr. Richard Young, who wrote the code – as a matter of fact I discussed it with him – this was no surprise [to him]. I discussed it with him. I said, ‘Richard, are you really, really proposing that kind of discrimination between an American cyclist and an American basketball player?’ And he looked at me and he said, ‘Ah well, yeah, that’s the consequences.’ And I said, ‘Then you’re going to have a letter from me,’ and he said, ‘I can understand.’ This is what has happened."
Until now, it often is the case that when I talk with colleagues from other federations, I have had comments like, ‘Jesus, Hein, you have serious problems with this doping,’ and I would say to them, ‘What about you?’
"And they would say, ‘Well, fortunately we don’t have the problem.’ And then I would say, ‘Do you control?’ And they would say, ‘We don’t control because we don’t have the problem.’[...]
If cycling has a doping problem, it also has an anti-doping policy. And this was set already, six, seven, eight years ago. And the thing is, if you test, you find. If you don’t test, you don’t find. And this is not something I’m just saying – many people have said, ‘At least they test in cycling,’ and also the riders want to test, you know; so this is positive.
However, the UCI made its first appeal to governments to face the challenge of doping in sport, not in the 90’s, not in the 80’s, but in 1967 in the Le Monde Cicliste cycling journal. And they have not stopped since. So regardless of your own opinion about doping in this sport, it is clear that pro cycling will continue to be at the forefront of the fight.
A comprehensive history of the UCI’s forty years of anti-doping activities can be found in Acrobat format here.
We remind readers the UCI and Verbruggen are reported to be suing Mr. Pound in 2008 over claims that Pound has defamed the historical anti-doping efforts of the UCI.