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January 31/13 22:24 pm - Cycling Canada President Sends Open Letter to UCI

Posted by Editoress on 01/31/13

John Tolkamp, President of Cycling Canada, has released a letter that he sent today to the Management Committee of the UCI:

January 31, 2013

To: UCI Management Committee
cc: National Federations

Lance, the biggest figure in the history of cycling, admits to doping. Not just doping but a systematic, decade long program designed to compete with, and beat what turns out to be an epidemic of doping in the peloton. And the ONLY public press release by our international federation, the Union Cycliste International (UCI) is one of vindication.

REALLY? ... Is that OUR best response to the world?

To the world we are a dirty, drug infested sport. Yes we have been leaders in anti-doping; leading the way with programs like the biological passport and no needles. However, to the public this falls on deaf ears - Lance's "confession", (not to mention Operation Puerto) is what they have heard and equate with cycling.

Our event organizers, our trade teams, our national federations, the club and amateur riders now wear this tarnished public perception. All pro riders of today ride under an air of suspicion – with the media and public not just raising questions but assuming they are dirty.

Sponsors, supporters, governing funding bodies are fleeing – our inclusion in the Olympics has already been questioned.

As a sport we need to be contrite; we need to acknowledge there has been a problem. More importantly we need a vision, a plan forward - the last thing we should be doing is to feel vindicated.

We need our international federation, our national federations, our athletes, our event organizers all committed to gaining back the public's trust.

I believe we can create this vision, a plan where we not only address this issue fully, but are envied by the sporting world. An example of a sport which took a long, hard look at itself and said "Enough - we can do better!”

It will take federations putting in place educational programs, athletes speaking up when asked or put in positions of compromise, athletes being saluted for speaking up for racing clean, teams dedicated to a clean program, it will take changes to our detection, investigation and penalties. It must be foremost and on top of ALL cycling stakeholder minds. We must be asking each and every one of us:  “what are you doing to save this sport?’

What can we be doing, what can be done to bring about this change? Well lots, such as:

• UCI requiring every national federation & trade/pro team to develop and implement an anti-doping, fair sport educational program targeted at youth, developing and neo-pro athletes. Without which national federations would lose their official standing and trade/pro teams would lose their licences

• Working with WADA to improve testing, consequences and legal avenues to investigate and prosecute cheaters

• Modifying scope and mandate of Anti-doping Commission to being more focused on driving culture of change and education instead of only focused on detection and penalties

• Promoting, high lighting prominent athletes who speak out against doping and champion clean sport; there by building a culture 180 degrees opposite to the “Omerta” culture

• Implementing salary “hold backs” to fund an individual athlete pensions which is only accessible after a rider retires and is clear of any doping infractions

• Involving all stakeholder groups (professional rider associations, event organizers, commissions etc) in developing deterrent and positive educational strategies

• Leveraging the recently announced national federation “UCI Sharing Program” to highlight successful “fair sport” programs such as our Cycling Canada’s “Race Clean, Own your victory/Roulez gagnant au naturel” initiative

• Allowing national team and trade teams to promote their anti-doping/fair sport programs on competition clothing.

It will also require UCI leadership relinquishing the current defensive attitude, and taking on a contrite, conciliatory tone - focused on a clear and unrelenting vision for a clean sport.

Recently we learned that the UCI’s Independent Commission would not complete its mandate due to the lack of participation of key anti-doping bodies including WADA and the USADA. At the same time we learned that the UCI was going to strike a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission” however; it will work with WADA and other anti-doping stakeholders to set the terms of reference and other key details of operation. Among the issues to be determined is the manner in which anyone who came forward would be sanctioned if they implicated themselves with their testimony.

If the UCI follows through on this undertaking we would strongly suggest that it be an independent body and that its oversight be provided by the WADA rather than the UCI. The UCI can’t be seen or perceived to be in a position where it could control the commission’s work or reporting.

I believe we can create a clean sport to be envied. One parents, athletes, sponsors, fans are proud of.

After all, cycling is a beautiful sport.

Yours in cycling,

John Tolkamp
President, Cycling Canada


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