Cycling: UCI must accept blame for rampant drug culture, says Millar

Scot says president during Armstrong era must be removed from governing body

David Millar believes cycling's governing body has to accept responsibility for not preventing a culture of drug use from developing within the sport. Millar, a reformed doper and now on the athletes' committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency, yesterday said that process should begin with the resignation of the honorary president of the Union Cycliste International (UCI), Hein Verbruggen.

The UCI is currently studying 1,000 pages of evidence assembled by the US Anti-Doping Agency revealing a programme of wide-scale doping among Lance Armstrong's US Postal team between 1998 and 2005. Verbruggen was president of the UCI at the time and remains on the management committee.

"The UCI have to accept they have to carry some responsibility for this because it was obvious what was going on," said Millar, who served a two-year ban from 2004 after admitting using the blood booster EPO.

"The UCI had all the blood data, the medical reports, it was part of the culture of the sport. In the big races the majority of riders were doing it on drugs. The first step for the UCI is that Verbruggen has to be removed. There is no doubt about that – Pat McQuaid [Verbruggen's successor] has to distance himself because it was under Verbruggen's presidency that it was at its worst and yet there were all these denials coming from the UCI.

"He was at the head of an organisation with the biggest doping problem in the history of sport. He's still there. He doesn't have to commit hara-kiri, he should just admit that mistakes were made and we have all made mistakes. But the UCI is not a commercial company so there is no one to answer to."

The Usada report details Verbruggen's response to suggestions that the UCI covered up a positive test recorded by Armstrong in 2001. "That's impossible, because there is nothing," said Verbruggen on TV in the United States. "I repeat again: Lance Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never. And I say this not because I am a friend of his, because that is not true. I say it because I'm sure."

Cycling in the Armstrong era is so tainted that the Tour de France's race director, Christian Prudhomme, said yesterday that the American's seven titles should not be awarded to any other rider. "When you read the Usada report, you can't be indifferent," Prudhomme said. "It depicts an era and a system which are forever soiled. The best solution is to say that there should be no [Tour] winner those years."

Last night, Johan Bruyneel, once Armstrong's team manager at US Postal and accused of being a key player in the doping conspiracy, left RadioShack by "mutual consent." Bruyneel is contesting Usada's charges.

The UCI is facing growing criticism for its handling of the affair. It received the Usada report three days ago and has 21 days to respond, including whether it will ratify Usada's decision to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. McQuaid yesterday sought to defend the governing body. The report is critical of the UCI, suggesting members of Armstrong's team were tipped off about when drug tests were to be conducted.

"All we can do is test and test and test and send the tests to the lab, and if they come back negative they come back negative," he said. "If athletes, not just cyclists, can beat the system, the system isn't strong enough."

McQuaid believes the testing system has improved, and that the reputation of the UCI will not face long-term damage. He said: "It's not something that we have never dealt with before, we've had problems like this before. We've got through and the sport has got through and we will work through this one as well."

Millar echoed Bradley Wiggins's sentiments in insisting current riders are largely drug-free. "A whole generation are now going to have clean careers and results that should never be doubted," he said. "Cycling went into an abyss but we have climbed out and changed the sport, yet there is still all this baggage we are carrying around. Hopefully this will remove that and the sport can confront and be honest about the past."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'