After picking myself up off the floor, dusting myself off, and applying tiger balm to my mid-section due to the agony from chortling upon viewing the McQuaid press conference, I had only one thing I wanted to say to McQuaid in person:
“Thanks for the abdomen workout; my torso hasn’t seen that much effort since I first viewed Monty Python’s Flying Circus as an impressionable young lad.”
This is our governing body, ladies and gentlemen. The commentary provided by the motley UCI panel begged for Michael Palin to leap out from stage right and scream, “No one expects the Spanish Inquistion.” It could be said that the way they answered the questions was reminiscent of John Cleese attempting to buy a licence for his pet fish, Eric. Or the argument with David Bond over the nuances of suspicious results could be a remake of the dead parrot sketch. I was waiting for Bond to yell, “You’ve nailed his feet to his perch, you git!”
I might be inclined to say the interaction between Philippe Verbiest and Pat McQuaid on the dais could be compared to the “wink, wink, nudge, nudge know what I mean” sketch with Eric Idle. The performance overall – because based upon the content of the presser I can call it just that – was so ridiculously poor that I’m dreadfully embarrassed to call them the governing body of the sport.
How can you DEFEND the donation by Armstrong to the UCI? How can McQuaid not view this as a conflict of interest? There are those in the public sector who are resigning, and in some cases are being investigated criminally, for similar behaviour in England, the United States, and other countries at the moment. Phone hacking scandal, anyone?
The worst part? How can McQuaid defend the donation by saying he would repeat the mistake? Sure, why not? Let’s have all the cyclists donate to the UCI because that wouldn’t be a conflict of interest, no sir. The punchline of those thoughts by McQuaid would have to be in his attempt to assert the Armstrong donation was conducted with “transparency.” As one Twitter commentator pointed out to me, if this were the case why not allow CyclingNews to photograph the receipt/invoice when it was shown to them in Aigle? Of course the donation was never made public until after it was discussed by riders, who brought it to the UCI’s attention. McQuaid was more concerned about writing revisionist history instead.
In fact, it could be argued that their behaviour over the donation symbolizes the Verburggen/McQuaid regime. Proactive stance on anything? Doubtful. The UCI refuses to ever take a proactive stance unless it involves money in their pocket. That makes them complicit at the best of times, and corrupt at the worst of times. Excuse me, allegedly corrupt, as we wouldn’t want yours truly to end up in Swiss Court… No, we have twenty years of this type of activity, which should say to all in the sport it’s time for a change.
I can’t help but wonder, however, what was going through the mind of Pat McQuaid as he sat there. Here’s a few prospective thought bubbles, if you’ll indulge me:
I hope to Christ the handout package will give these wolves enough info to not ask any questions.”
How come no one bothered to iron the table cloth? Never coming back to Geneva.”
Why is Hein at the back of the room smiling? Rotten bastard should be sitting up here with me.”
Great. A question from a French journalist. Can’t understand them half the time.”
I wonder if anyone noticed me staring at Rossi’s blouse? I might have to buy her dinner tonight.”
Not our fault. Check. We did the best we could. Check. It happened on someone else’s watch. Check.”
Glad no one brought up my stint on the road commission during Hein’s reign. Glad that Simon MacMichael isn’t here. He would have mentioned it.”
David Bond off the Christmas Card list.”
Why is the German media here? No Tour broadcasting, no press conference admittance. Must speak to Enrico about it.”
Should have sprung for thicker bond paper on the press packet. This cheap paper is giving me a rash.”
No one bring up Contador. No one bring up Contador.”
Glad no one pointed out I missed Contador when I rattled off all the cheats after 2005.”
No Aussies in the room. Good. No questions on the rule-bending for Armstrong’s return at the 2009 TDU.”
I think it’s a good night for filet mignon. Must have Rossi pick out the wine.”
Not looking forward to seeing Greg at the Tour next year. Maybe I’ll skip it.”
I think I handled that extremely well. They bought it, I’m sure.”
So here we are yet again. The governing body has thrown another high-profile rider under the bus. One they’d vigorously defended since 1999. One they bent the rules for in 2009 for his return. One they “couldn’t do anything about” when it involved suspicious test results, as they didn’t have the tools to determine a proper response. Does this mean Lance Armstrong was the problem? He was the Keyser Soze of the cycling world?
The back room power brokers feel they’ve dodged another bullet. Business as usual. Ban ratified means the questions will stop. They’ll go on their merry way, finish up the Paul Kimmage lawsuit and head off to the Maldives over Christmas to count their allegedly ill-gotten gains and plan for next year.
Let’s hope those who need the resolve to push change over who are in power positions continue to do so. Let’s hope the riders and team owners continue to speak out and challenge. Let’s hope the fans continue to educate themselves on what is really happening.
Your sport was stolen by the UCI. Lance is just the latest in a long line of Lee Harvey Oswaldesque patsies. Time to take cycling back, and put Monty Python’s Flying Circus where it belongs, on our televisions and not in our sport.