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Dublin: 18 °C Friday 10 April, 2020

European newspapers publish reform manifesto

A number of papers have joined forces to promote an eight-point plan for cycling’s future.

Lance Armstrong (file photo).
Lance Armstrong (file photo).

FIVE EUROPEAN NEWSPAPERS on Saturday published a manifesto to reform cycling in the wake of the Lance Armstrong affair, saying the sport was mired in a “terrible mess”.

Britain’s The Times, L’Equipe in France, Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, and Belgian papers Het Nieuwsblad and Le Soir joined forces to promote an eight-point manifesto designed to fix both cycling’s governance and its reputation.

“Professional cycling needs fundamental reform,” The Times said in its editorial. “Professional cycling is, in short, in a terrible mess.

“The authorities have lost all credibility and there can be no new beginning for the sport without a radical sweeping away of those who are associated with, and responsible for, a regime that allowed cheating on its watch.”

A damning report last week by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) concluded that seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong helped orchestrate the most sophisticated doping programme in the history of sport.

The five newspapers were “coming together to promote a manifesto to repair the governing structure of professional cycling and redeem its reputation before it is too late”.

They demanded a thorough overhaul of cycling’s structures, rules and leaders.

The manifesto called for the creation of an independent and neutral commission, under the responsibility of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), to investigate the International Cycling Union (UCI)’s role in the Armstrong affair and report on any complicity.

It said drug-testing structures should be instigated by WADA and enforced by national anti-doping agencies.

The manifesto called for harsher penalties, saying teams should not employ riders suspended for more than six months for a supplementary period of two years.

All teams should accept that a rider implicated in a doping probe should automatically be withdrawn from competition pending the investigation’s outcome.

It called for reform in the World Tour of leading races and its points system, proposing that team licences should be awarded to sponsors and not team managers, to defeat the “closed shop”.

It said the UCI should publish an annual report clarifying its activities and progress.

And finally, it asked for “the undertaking that all of the above will be in place before the start of the 2013 season in order to establish a new and more credible structure and new governance and regulations”.

The newspapers said that the continuing revelations of doping showed “we can clearly no longer have confidence in the leadership or the effectiveness of the UCI or in the behaviours of team managers, many of whom are implicated in cheating, now and in the recent past.

“There is a new generation of riders and teams with a different, more open philosophy, who believe that change is possible.

“So for their sakes and for the sakes of those who love cycling and who want to believe in it, we believe it is impossible to continue with the same structure, the same rules and the same leaders.”

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