French TV channel France 2 featured a documentary on Lance Armstrong, doping and the Tour de France last night. There was little new information, for example claims by Marie-George Buffet, the former sports minister, that she was long in conflict with the UCI’s Hein Verbruggen.
Perhaps the only news was their attempts to meet UCI President Pat McQuaid. At first he is filmed skipping across a road and getting in a car park lift, blanking all attempts at questions. It makes him look a bit shifty when he should probably have said “call my office, speak to my PR” etc rather than trying to flee. But it can’t be fun being doorstepped like this.
The TV crew came back with a hidden camera supplied to coach and “Change Cycling Now” advocate Antoine Vayer who secretly filmed between him and McQuaid. Here’s the script:
“I mean Verbruggen did a lot for the sport, he did a lot for the sport. But his decisions were always - this is just between you can me - any decisions he made on doping and so forth, you’d realize he was never pro-doping, he didn’t encourage doping. But he would always protect the sport. In other words if he had to take a decision and he could see that the sport could be damaged… he wouldn’t take the decision. I think that was his sort of philosophy, protect the sport.
I don’t follow that. Maybe I’m wrong?
It’s a bit sneaky of the TV crew to do this but it gives us an insight into the obvious conflicts of interest between a governing body wanting to promote the sport and maximize revenue and the duty of the same governing body to police the sport.
It also shows how the UCI is slowly - perhaps too slowly? - distancing itself from the past and Hein Verbruggen and how McQuaid is willing to confront problems that were swept under the carpet for too long.