UCI Boss Pat McQuaid Wants Four-Year Bans for Dopers
Pat McQuaid says two-year suspensions 'unfair' for clean riders.
International cycling federation president Pat McQuaid favors four-year bans for serious doping offenses to help clean up a sport battered by drug scandals.
In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, McQuaid said standard two-year suspensions are not tough enough to deter cheaters and should be doubled in cases of premeditated doping.
On a separate issue, McQuaid said the UCI is not "dragging its heels" in the investigation of three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, who remains provisionally suspended after testing positive for clenbuterol while winning this year's race.
"I'm increasingly going for four years because two years is very quick," McQuaid said of doping bans. "An athlete returns to the peleton very quick. I think it's unfair to the clean athletes that guys who have cheated in premeditated cheating can come back so quickly."
Under World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines, suspensions of at least two years should be applied for serious doping offenses. While WADA allows for sanctions of up to four years, few sports impose the longer penalties.
McQuaid said he has instructed the UCI's anti-doping department to seek four-year penalties and urged national federations to do the same.
"At least cycling has made the statement that we're serious about getting rid of dopers," he said on the sidelines of the Global Sports Industry Conference in London.
Despite the Contador case and a slew of other doping scandals that have marred the Tour de France and the sport in general, McQuaid said cycling is doing more than others to fight the scourge of cheating.
"You can take a sort of fatalistic view and say, 'Yes the sport's been damaged, the credibility of the sport has gone down,'" he said. "But you can also take the view that more and more people are taking - that we're a sport that is actually going and doing something about it.
"We're testing. We're testing in great detail, in great numbers, and we're catching athletes. We're not afraid to catch an athlete, big or small. It's transparent. It's open. All the results come to us and go to WADA. We're doing our damnedest to catch cheats."
McQuaid defended the UCI's handling of the Contador case, which dates back to a drug test during the Tour on July 21. The Spaniard claims traces of the banned drug clenbuterol in his sample came from contaminated steak, and has also denied that tests found traces of plastic residues that could indicate he underwent an illegal blood transfusion.
The UCI has still not decided whether to press doping charges against Contador.
"The UCI is not dragging its heels," McQuaid said. "We're working with WADA. Our scientific people and their scientific people are working together to try to determine how the clenbuterol got in the system ...
"We're waiting for WADA to come back to us with a report. As soon as we get that, we'll take decisions within hours."
McQuaid said he had no timeframe for a decision but added, "I think the point might be fast approaching."
Asked whether the investigation was also looking into plastic residues found in Contador's samples, he said, "I couldn't tell you."
If the UCI decides to pursue disciplinary action against Contador, the case will first be referred to the Spanish cycling federation for a hearing. If found guilty, Contador would be stripped of his Tour title and face a ban.
Contador has suggested he might quit the sport regardless of the outcome of the investigation.
"I understand the athlete has been barraged by media, particularly the Spanish media," McQuaid said. "He's in a pretty difficult situation. I can understand that and I have sympathy for him in that situation."